Saturday

30 July 2022

So what have you been up to in the bajillion days since you last posted, Thumper? Threes of people really want to know.

Largely, this:

 I finished the vomit draft of the next Wick book. It's super raw, way too much dialog and a whole lot of "he shrugged," "he snorted," and "he turned to X person." All placeholder crap for the actual first draft, which I'll start working on...checks watch...in about 15 minutes.

This may actually wind up being two novellas. It's told in two parts, the second much longer than the first, so there may be some tweaking and additions to make the first part stand on its own. My gut says it will be a better story if I do it that way, and it also says that once my editor has it in hand, she'll agree. 

Chapter by chapter (I hope), as I get into this, I'll post what I've gotten done on (I hope) the website for this part of the Wick series. I'm still looking for ways to better protect the content, but I'm coming up dry, so it may just wind up in whole on its blog, and I'll take a bunch of chances with piracy. 

Will it eventually make it into print? Sure. But this isn't about the money or the sales; never really has been, except for the efforts of sales to generate Max's annual toy drive. I may (still dunno, I am so on the fence about this) slap a tip jar on the site, with anything raised being used for the toys. 

I considered using Patreon, but I keep hearing horror stories about creators locked out of their accounts, Patreon changing terms, and a whole bunch of other complaints. I support several people on P, but I haven't been able to make myself leap to the Creator thing. It still might happen, though, if I can offer free content with a pay-as-you-want option.

I've considered Medium, as well...but again, not sure about the terms, and to get any traction you pretty much have to bank on your readers being $5/month members. And it sounds like the payments are paltry. Again, not about the money, but I have issues with platforms making a lot off their content provides while giving little in return.

See, here I am, talking myself into posting everything at The Lost Boys of Everywhen blog...

Looking at it, there needs to be a design shakeup, too.  It does not look super nice at this point, but I tossed the background on just to have one, and then used it to create the title image. Reminds me of the early web, when we though we were so cool to have figured out a modicum of HTML and everything was eye-popping, painful neon and spinning images.

I had a site on Prodigy, uploaded soon after they released their web browser...super early on. IIRC, it was a lot of dark blue and bright red, occasionally so seeped in contrast that it made my eyes hurt after looking at it for a few minutes.

I kind of miss those days, when the truly simple and gaudy was SUPER AWESOME COOL and a basic site could get you offers to create something for someone else. For real money, even. No Paypal or Venmo, just paper checks in the mail because for gawd knows why, we trusted each other enough for that.

In any case, sooner rather than later, there will be content on The Lost Boys of Everywhen...I'm ot working at my usual speed, thanks to a 2nd project I have in the works (bikes!) and to not having my writing partner, but it'll get done.

I just need to work on the whole cliffhanger thing to keep y'all coming back for more.




26 June 2022

20 Years Ago...

Two decades. It alternately feels much longer and just a while ago. But 20 years ago, right about this time of day, I was in a wicked amount of pain, despite the morphine I was given (over my I DON'T WANT TO STOP BREATHING objections.) One should expect that after getting a brain tumor removed, but my stupid asterisk likely (I don't really remember now) thought that I would avoid the screaming pain in favor of just a little ouchiness because they weren't sawing off the top part of my skull to get at it.

Nope, the neurosurgeon was only going to cut under my upper lip, lift part of my face off, and drill through my sinuses to get at the fairly large mass that had its sticky fingers wound around my pituitary gland. It was large enough and shaped oddly enough--a tendril working its way up the pituitray stalk toward the hypothalmus--that he didn't want to waste any time getting to it. What would have been a 4-5 month wait for surgery turned into 3 weeks, which was, honestly, terrifying.

Pushing other patients around to get at it was not great news, right?

Spoiler: I did not die.

I still have multiple issues related to the tumor. I will forever be on medication to control diabetes insipidus (which is not "diabetes" but more like "water diabetes." Like...I pee a lot. A lot of a lot without the meds, and I will drink every cold thing in sight), my thyroid is jacked, I overheat, I have blood sugar issues, cortisol issues, and everything combined is why my fear of flying is so exacerbated.

Cortisol and blood sugar problems can do nasty things to a person.

In any case, 20 years ago a very talented neuorsurgeon named Joseph Watson yanked that sucker out, and a couple weeks later called personally to tell me the good news: it was not only benign, but would never return. 

I'll live with the complications from having it in the first place, but in the grand scheme of things, that's not so bad.

Not too long after getting the good news, I started this blog...and this was my first post.

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The Thing Inside My Head
(eh, this is long...)

Okay... so I had this thing growing in my head. Initially I thought I was in menopause (and relished the idea), but in late March or early April I realized I was drinking an awful lot; it sort of crept up on me, varying degrees of thirst day after day, until I realized one morning that I was sucking down at least 64 ounces of anything cold and fluid I could get my hands on first thing every morning, and I kept drinking in massive quantities all day long. The end result of drinking so much is... well, you know.

What I didn't realize is the... well, you know... was causing the incredible thirst. Being so thirsty all the time spurred The Spouse Thingy into making me an appointment with our Primary Care Doc here at Travis AFB; he thought I might be diabetic.

The doc agreed with him; this was something that needed to be looked into. He made note of the fact that I was pretty sure I was in the throes of menopause (oh, come on, do I have to spell it out for you?! Something was missing!) and ordered a shitload of blood work to be done. The vampires at the lab surely loved this - they sucked out at least 5 tubes of blood and made me pee in this tiny, tiny cup (ok, a Big Gulp cup is tiny when you're drinking 3 gallons a day.)

My blood sugar came back at 95. Perfectly normal.
My prolactin level, however, came back at 118. Normal is less than 10.
And then there was this merry go round of drinking and peeing.
(“What did you do today?” “I peed.”)

Something was amiss. My doc, being fairly sharp, caught the implications right off the bat. The likely culprit to my problems was a pituitary tumor. He ordered an MRI - and I complied, as much as I didn't want to - and the evidence was right there. Glaring bright white against the black film of the MRI.

I had a tumor.
A brain tumor.
And it was big.

The MRI immediately went to the base hospital's neurosurgeon; she looked and measured, checked my lab values, looked some more, and decided this was an unusual tumor, unusual enough that she didn't want to handle it. She wanted me to see a civilian pituitary specialist. Someone who could look at the MRI and have a better idea what it might be. Someone who wouldn't just be using me for the value of experience. Between her efforts and the efforts of my primary care doc, and numerous inquiries by The Spouse Thingy, I got an appointment - fairly quickly, too - with a civilian specialist.

He took one look at the MRI and was brutally honest. He couldn't tell exactly what it was, either. It appeared to be cystic in nature, but it was not the ordinary pituitary adenoma. The only way to know for sure was to take it out.

Take it out.
Of my BRAIN.
Holy shit.

I did a lot of reading about pituitary tumors while I waited for this appointment; I knew how he would take it out (go in under the upper lip, drill through the sinuses to get to the pituitary gland, yank that sucker out, pack my sinuses, close up, no scar), and I knew that the surgery itself was becoming almost routine. But this was MY brain. My pituitary gland. My tumor.

I was terrified.

In between that visit and the day of surgery, I had every possible ill outcome running through my head. The least of which was the chance that I could come out of this blind - the optic nerve runs far too close to the pituitary for my taste. So do the carotid arteries. More than anything I wanted a feeling of serenity about this, some sign that it would be all right. Some sign that I wasn't seeing things for the last time. Something to tell me I would see my son's face again, see my husband. Something to tell me that my last breath was not going to be drawn on an operating table.

Over the three weeks between seeing the neurosurgeon and the scheduled surgery, people with pituitary tumors seemed to be coming out of the woodwork. They popped up in email, in casual conversations. Invariably, they had the same message. "I have one. I had one. I'm doing fine."

They were comforting, but this was still My Brain Tumor, and inside I was shaking like the proverbial leaf.

Two days before the surgery The Spouse Thingy and I had dinner at the BX Food Court. Normally we don't get the Chinese food there - it's not the greatest - but this night we did. Each dinner came with a fortune cookie; I never eat mine, I always give them to the Spouse Thingy. He shoved it towards me and told me I had to at least open it myself. 


He read his; it was typical fortune cookie nonsense. Scratch your palm and blink twice and all life’s richest will come your way.

I read mine: You will live a long and happy life.

I wanted to cry. It felt like the sign I'd been—literally—praying for.

The next day was dedicated to pre-operative appointments: getting a chest x-ray, more blood drawn, an EKG. As part of that appointment merry-go-round I was also given my scheduled surgery time.

First case of the day.
Be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m.

The hospital, UCD Medical Center, is in Sacramento. We live 50 miles away, at Travis AFB, which meant that we’d have to get up by 4 a.m. and be out on the road before 4:30. In the fricking morning!

Did I mention I am not a morning person?

I took my pillow with me and snoozed the ride up there (as opposed to puking up my toenails the entire ride, which is what I was sure I'd be doing). We checked in at 5:30, whereupon they handed me this tiny gown designed to allow me to moon the entire hospital, stuck us in a room where we waited for at least an hour for an OR escort (not as kinky as it sounds). I expected to be hurling large chunks across the room, but didn't.

By this point I think I was resigned to the idea that there was no escape. They had my clothes; where was I going to go with my backside shining like a bright white beacon off the shores of the California coast? They had me. I was doomed.

The OR escort finally arrived; I was put on a gurney and taken up to the recovery room, where The Spouse Thingy introduced me (a re-introduction, actually) to the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist he had hand-picked to knock me out and keep me knocked through the surgery. Nick (said CRNA) carefully explained what he would be doing to me, including all the things I would never remember, and then stuck an IV in my hand. While I laid there, contemplating the dark, dreary recovery room, the neurosurgeon (Spouse Thingy hand picked him, too) popped in to say hello (and promised, no, I won’t sneeze while I have my fingers in your brain); Nick gave me something through the IV (Versed, I think), and I was off to LaLa Land. I felt all warm and fuzzy... and then nothing.

Next thing I knew I was in the recovery room; someone sitting at my side (recovery room nurse, male, that's all I know) was urging me to breath. Deep breaths. More. That's good. The Spouse Thingy appeared at various points (I should point out that he moonlights at UCDMC and was allowed where family members normally are not); I recall hearing the nurse tell him that I'd been given morphine and my breathing rate was depressed, at 8-10 per minute.

My brain interpreted that as "She stopped breathing."

After about 3 hours (or so I'm told) I was finally taken to my room. I was transferred to a bed (don't ask me how, all I remember is a motor; I don't recall being moved), and while lying there half out of my head (but not in pain), I hear him.

The Yeller.

I couldn't tell exactly where he was on the floor, I could only hear his booming voice echoing through the hallways. HELP ME HELP ME! WHERE'S MY DOCTOR? I WANT TO GO! I was thinking "oh shut the phk up," but all I could do was moan. HELP ME! Gawwwddd.... At some point - it felt like minutes later but could have been hours - a nurse placed these THINGS on my legs. White THINGS with Velcro straps. The Spouse Thingy told me they were to massage my legs, and to keep me from developing blood clots.

My intelligent response: "Noooooooooooo."
Later he tells me I'm getting a roommate. "Nooooooooooo."
I whined a lot.

The Spouse Thingy stayed until at least 11:30 that night, making sure that I could reach my water and keeping my pitcher full. He stayed until he was sure that I could get the cup on my own, refill it using the pitcher on the table, and call for a nurse to bring more water when I needed it. The water was critical; the tumor had caused a condition called Diabetes Insipidus (the short of it - my body didn't make the natural anti-diuretic hormone, causing my kidneys to just let water flow through with no stops; I have a medication for it but they weren't giving it to me so they could see what would happen… at some point what happened was a burst collection bag and massive amounts of urine all over the floor) and I needed to be able to input as much as I was outputting (all hail the might catheter!) He had gotten nine pitchers of water for me throughout the day; that night I drank six more.

I was more coherent the next day; so was The Yeller. At some he must have been sedated, but I awoke to the familiar strains of LET ME OUT! HELP! Over and over... The Spouse Thingy appeared, followed shortly by the Physical Therapist Lady. They sat me up at the side of the bed, and then helped me stand; I was on my feet for only about a minute, which garnered me praise worthy of an Oscar Nominee (or at least a Gold Star), but it left me with the Headache From Hell.

The nurse said she would get me morphine; by this point I was half out of it and started crying, telling the Spouse Thingy "Noooooooooo... I don't want to stop breathing!" He tried to assure me it would be fine, my breathing rate might slow a little bit, but I kept whining "I don't want to stop breathing."

Okay.
I was terrified, really.

They gave me the morphine and I was determined to not fall back asleep; I was going to stay awake and BREATHE. Deep breaths. Numerous breaths. I would inhale as if I were trying to suck up the mother of all lines.

Right around lunchtime my son and the Spouse Thingy's parents showed up, finding me sitting up, a bowl of Jello in hand - fast asleep. When I did stir, I proclaimed that the Jello sucked, then went back to sleep, periodically waking up with a start, forcing myself to breathe.

Nope, I would not let the morphine do me in. I was going to breathe.

(Yes, all right, hindsight tells me that if I was waking up, I was breathing all along, but dammit, I was being proactive! I was breathing!)

Early evening came and the Spouse Thingy said he needed to get home early because The Boy had to work and couldn't feed the animals. My mature reaction?

"Nooooooo... I don't want to be alone."

So, being the Good Spouse Thingy that he is, he stayed a little longer and talked to my roommate's husband some.
This would be Mumbling Mary. She had disk fusion done, herrington rods inserted to stabilize her spine, and a nerve in her leg worked on. She was in some serious pain. They started her out with a boatload of narcotics, but they were giving her less than what she normally took for the pain. She was four year post-major-car-accident and existed on Percoset and Other Fun Drugs. A pain management team finally stopped by to assess her, doubled what she was getting, and that 2nd day she finally got some rest.

This was a good thing for Mary, but... it totally screwed up her sense of day and night, and left her high as a kite. That third day I was pretty coherent, sitting up, even walked the hall some (and got my nasal packing out - giant tampons they'd shoved into my sinuses), and she slept through most of it, occasionally waking to tell her husband to fix the clock already; she determined that it said 3:30 and she knew it was 8:30 (it was 1 p.m.). Around 9 p.m., just as I was falling asleep, she thought it was daytime. The nurses came in to turn her (an exercise in agony for poor Mumbling Mary) and she wanted to know where her husband was; they tried to explain that it was night time and he'd gone home, but she was sure they were lying. He couldn't have gone home - he didn't fix the clock!

I was *almost* asleep when The Yeller started back up. He was also throwing things, creating a general atmosphere of unpleasantness and construction zone noise - and I was finally able to determine that he was in the next room. He was screaming for the hospital administrator, calling his nurse 'Nurse Ratchet,' begging to leave, wanting to go home. Go anywhere. Mary, in the meantime, couldn't find her call button, so I pulled the curtain back and asked if she needed help. "Oh no, I just need to find this," and she was moving around so much I was afraid she'd hurt herself, so I buzzed the nurse from my bed.

After that Mary decided I was her Bestest Friend and proceeded to talk. And talk. And talk. The thing was, she wasn't really talking to me, she was carrying on conversations with the voices in her head. Around 4am she turned on her TV, and Wimbledon was playing. She muttered things like "Don't hit that tennis ball. You'll break the vase." She talked to everyone she knew, allllll night long.

It was too funny to be annoying.

No, what was annoying was the blood they wanted to draw from me, every six hours around the clock. After the first 2 days the veins in my right arm pretty much shut down and because of the IV they couldn't take blood out of my left. My arms had track marks worthy of a junkie, but they were getting no blood. Needle after needle... the blood just would not flow. I was bruised, sore, and still they wanted more blood.

Saturday morning I woke up, felt great, walked the hall without the aid of a walker, talked to an endocrinologist and a few surgical residents, whom all deemed me fit to go home. The ride home totally wiped me out. I got home and went to bed, and for the most part stayed there for a couple more days. The fatigue clung to me for almost a week. So did the swollen face. Initially I looked like I'd gone a round or two with Mike Tyson; after a few days I only looked like a TeleTubby.
Tinky Winky.

I had survived. The surgeon didn't sneeze with his fingers in my brain. I didn't go blind. He got it all. All we could do from that point was to wait for the pathology report, and hope that I wasn't one of the Very Rare People to get pituitary cancer.
I wasn't.

I am one of the Very Rare People to get lymphocytic hypophysitis. Very rare. Extremely rare.

Extremely lucky.

It's a long term that basically means, because I had the tumor removed, I'm cured. It probably won't come back. I won't need further treatments, other than the occasional MRI, just in case.

So, I had this brain thingy.
It's gone now.
But it was proof, after all, that I have a brain.
Life is good.


Spouse Thingy and I moved to Ohio just 5 or 6 weeks after the surgery. I have some complications as a result of the tumor—I’ll have Diabetes Insipidus for the rest of my life, and I don’t produce some key hormones, but all that has been successfully replaced by medications.

Life really is good.

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 It's still really good, and y'all are part of the reasons why.

Wednesday

25 May 2022

I would not have a child today.

If I were young enough, no matter how much I wanted to, I would not have one.

I know the pain of infertility; I know the disappointment of not having that child. I also know the impotence of something happening to one’s child, happening right next to them. I know that stab of crying why without having an answer. I also know I was so very lucky in that the outcome was landed in my favor, and I went home with my baby.

He was right next to me. Someone tried to run off with him. I have had nightmares about that since it happened almost 39 years ago. I feel the panic, the nausea, and the pain…but I got to take my baby home.

In the years since, I’ve felt he was safe. I allowed him to go outside and play. I sent him to school without worrying that the worst would happen; I never felt that someone with awful intentions would breach the school and hurt him. I had faith that the adults in charge could protect him.

But now?

Every day, putting him on a school bus, I would worry. Dropping him off, I would worry. Is this the school in someone’s sights? Is this the day?

When the Boy was growing up, I always felt like I could keep him safe. He was damn near stolen from me, and yet I felt I could keep him safe. I always felt the schools could keep him safe.

I no longer feel that way.

Our kids are not safe. No matter how much lip service we pay, citing stats and theoretical likelihoods…they are no longer safe.

I would not bring a life into this world the way it is now. It's more than this; the reasons are many, but right now this is at the top.

Our leaders are not willing to do the hard things necessary to stop the violence; too many people are so attached to their guns and shout about the second amendment, they vote for the people who are happy to take money from the gun lobbies, and for what?

Because their guns are more important than our kids?

Every time this happens, every time there’s a school shooting—yesterday’s was #27 this year, and we’re not even 6 months along—some of the first reactions are “Well, now the libs are gonna try to take our guns.” Kids die, and they’re more worried that some ethereal liberal deity will swoop down and pull from their mostly untrained hands weapons that they don’t really need. That’s not an exaggeration; Ted Cruz immediately began spouting about how the left would use yesterday’s shooting as an excuse to take away guns. There were posts all over social media spouting rhetoric: well, this is why I always carry; no one’s gonna do anything like that while I’m around.

Yes, they will. And you won’t be able to stop them. Your notion of the good guy with the gun fails to take into account that they’re going to have a bigger gun, don’t care about you or your life, and will probably enjoy taking your life. It especially doesn’t take into account the fact that once law enforcement arrives on scene, they won’t know that you’re the so-called good guy. They’ll just see someone with a gun. And they’ll do their jobs, react as if you’re the bad guy with the gun. They don’t have a choice.

It’s only been a day, and the outrage over just the idea that someone might take their guns has people shoving aside the fact that 21 people are dead, 18 of them children. The grumbling is so loud that they’re not listening, but for once, maybe, shut up and pay attention to something other than yourself.

No one is coming for your guns. The “libs” just want some common sense. Registration of weapons. Training. Testing. All those things you’re willing to do in order to get a driver’s license.

A waiting period. No one needs a gun right then and there. If you can’t wait, you probably shouldn’t get it. And no, I don’t care if you feel like you need to be able to pop into Guns & Ammo to buy a rifle for that last minute hunting trip. Plan better. That’s on you.

If you’re one of those who clings to the notion that the left just wants to take what’s yours, if you’re more upset at the idea of losing those things over the deaths of people, your unwillingness to accept some gun control tells me so much about you.

You want armed guards in school before you’ll accept gun control. You want to arm teachers before accepting gun control.

You want to turn our schools into prisons before being willing to do the most basic things to protect those kids.

But we’re the United States of America and we have rights!

I’m guessing that won’t be for much longer.

I honestly don’t think that a child born in the U.S. today will be a citizen of the U.S. in twenty years. We’re imploding on so many levels, we’re regressing, we’re racist as fuck, we’re angry and lashing out, and gun violence is one of the symptoms.

We’re not safe.

Our kids are not safe.

And we’ve done this to ourselves.

 

Thursday

19 May 2022

Ok, wow, I did not realize that I’d gone so long without posting anything here…which goes to show how much I talked about my cats. Without those furballs, I don’t seem to have a lot to contribute, unless you want me to geek out over all the new Star Trek choices or Doctor Who. Because I can do that; especially with the new Doctor announcement, I can squeal a lot.

I can squeal over what I’m writing…I’m about 150 pages into a Wick book (which has been surprisingly difficult to write without Max sitting here meowing at me nonstop; I’ve scrapped hundreds of pages in the last 6 months but I’m in a groove now.) And when I’ve got the vomit draft done, the first draft will debut online first, on its own site. Will I monetize that, when I’ve never done that with a blog before?

Probably, even if its just a tip jar. Max’s books are how we generate our annual charity donations, and last year, without a new book, it was a bit…slim…by the end of the year. The Spouse Thingy made up the difference for the most part, but still. That was something I felt helped me make a contribution, and I’d like to continue it.

Other book in the works is the cycling book. I’m nowhere near as far along with it, but that’s fine. I’ve done some long-term test rides on a couple of bikes and have notes; the cargo bike was terrific but I sold it to make room for the next one, and it’s a keeper.

Today I took delivery on 2 folding electric bikes, and I’ll ride them over the summer…but not solely because book or not, I have a 300 mile goal in September for the Great Cycle Challenge and I can’t see doing it on one of these.

By the time I got them put together (10 minutes each bike, tops, it was mostly unfolding the frames) and charged, it was 90 degrees outside. We opted for a very short test ride to the little park nearby, where we rode around in circles for a bit. Only 1.5 miles total, but I can already say that I am too tall to ride this for more than 8-10 miles, which is fine because I suspect that’s as long as the battery will last.

It could turn out to be a fun in-town or take-to-a lake kind of bike, or for someone with a short commute to work. But, we’ll see. It’s hard to tell anything in 1.5 miles.

Well, it was easy to tell I did not get the clamp on the seat post tight enough, as evidenced by the seat sinking all the way in when I sat on it. That was slightly undignified. Would have been funny if it had happened slowly, while in motion, leaving me to wonder WTF was happening.

Too many tacos, Karen, that’s what was happening.

As we’re rolling into summer, that’s what I’ll be doing: writing and riding, often at the same time because that’s how my brain works. I get the mental work out of the way when I’m on the bike, and get the words written down when I get home. And sometimes, they even match up. Sometimes. More often it’s: ride, come up with a sterling narrative—a BRILLIANT narrative, one destined to ear awards—get home, sit down, and that’s when the drooling starts because my brain just nopes right out of there.

At least my brain is doing something.

Shuddup.

 

 

30 December 2021

 EOY Oddz N Ends...B'bye 2021

This year was not as bad as 2020 was, at least not for us. But I am still smarting from 2020, which kinda left a simmering wound on 2021, and I am just starting to not hurt as much as I was this time last year. If you'd told me I would spend the better part of a full calendar year grieving two cats, I doubt I would have believed you. But here we are, more than a year after they died, and after a lot of false starts thinking I was ok, I am finally ok.

These beautiful kitties made me realize that yes, I have healed enough to (almost) be ready for another pet. They were hiding under the space between the boardwalk and a restroom, and popped out while I sat on a bench to wait for the Spouse Thingy. There was a third, but he scrambled back under when my phone came out.

I really wanted to scoop them up and bring them home. They're completely feral, though, and that's not something I'm ready (or skilled enough) for. 

But...I am very close to being ready for another furry friend. We've been talking about a dog this time, and I'd really like another Golden Retriever. So maybe by spring...

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2021 starts with some rearranging of furniture. We figured out a layout that will allow me to keep my beautiful desk but add another smaller one I can actually write at, and at the same time we'll wind up with more room for the Peloton, rower, and bikes inside. 

Unless they just don't fit, I'll have 2 bikes on trainers; one on a typical wheel-on trainer (both wheels still on the bike) and one with the front wheel off and rear wheel resting on rollers. 

This is all a precursor to the sweat equity that will go into one of my 2021 projects:

If my back allows it (and lately that's questionable) on the 1st of January I'll start racking up miles and taking notes for a new book. We (meaning the publisher and me) expect this to be a year-long endeavor, during which I'll test out a few different type bikes and approach it all as a senior with some experience riding, but not as a hard-core dedicated cyclist. 

It's my favorite thing to do and my bikes are my favorite toys, but I am not a hard-core cyclist...who knows, maybe I'll become one. To start, I'll be riding a road bike, an electric road bike, am electric cruiser, a cargo bike, and a single speed. Possibly a crank-forward ebike, too, if the Spouse Thingy lets me borrow his. I'd also like to find an e-trike, but just to rent for a few days, since I've had a few people ask me about them.

And if I'm lucky, by the end of the year, a large part of my asterisk will be in the rear view mirror.

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I am not happy about the weight gain of 2021, but also? I am not horrified by it. And I've reached the point where I'll be okay with whatever the results are. I'll get into better shape no matter what, barring injury. If my weight shifts, fantastic. If it doesn't? Meh. I have been battling my weight my entire life, save for a few years in my teens, and then in my late 20s and early 30s when I was training in TKD but also too nervous about it to eat. Other than that, I've been overweight.

It's time I was okay with that. I refuse to torture myself with strict dieting; I've done it, the weight never stays off. So now I eat normally, I'll exercise, and let the flab fall where it may.

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We very nearly ended 2021 with a tragedy, one that left me tossing and turning for a while last night. I was upset and had that oh-no weight in the pit of my stomach.

The Spouse Thingy's Nintendo Switch would not turn on. We were pretty sure it had bit the dust.

Now, laugh if you want to, but one of the things we did a lot of this year was play a lot of Animal Crossing together. Not on the same island, but in the same room. We set up Max's old room to be a game room, with each of us having our own TV and Switch. We've swapped stuff and watched each others' islands go from nothing to pretty freaking sweet, and the idea that he'd just lost it all?


It was oddly upsetting.

He managed to get it to turn on and did a soft reset, but by then I was asleep. This morning I spent some time looking for a new one online, and there's a nice, long delay in getting a new one. I'm almost tempted to order one for us to have a backup if either of ours breaks for real.

Hell, if it had been mine, I probably would have cried. I like the idea of starting over, but I'd want my main player and all the money he's accumulated...I'm greedy that way. If the Switch croaks? So does he and all his $$$

We are so winning the whole Being an Adult thing.

And yes, trapping him on a toilet made me LOL

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 Speaking of Animal Crossing...it's calling to me. Tonight I am going deep sea diving, and then just might tear down an entire cliff to rebuild something else.


Sunday

12 December 2021

 :::blows the dust off the blog:::

This was supposed to be the Year of Celebrating. Spouse Thingy and I both turned 60, and we're a week away from out 40th anniversary. For years we talked about doing Something Big to celebrate the milestones, and a trip to Hawaii was at the forefront of those plans.

Then came COVID, and we scaled back the expectations. But surely we could still do a few things. By the time his birthday was approaching, we'd both been fully vaccinated and assumed it would be fine to go do something, somewhere. He'd put in for a week off for his birthday, mine, a week in November to go to Disneyland, then a week for our anniversary.

For his birthday, we were leaning toward the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We've never been but always wanted to go, it's not too far, and it was something.

Then Delta reared its ugly head and we both agreed: not worth it, not yet. We still had my birthday to look forward to, and surely in 4 months we wouldn't feel so squirrely about it. Surely Delta would subside, right?

It did not.


We did a few things locally, and on my birthday we hit up the Crocker Museum and a bicycle shop. The museum had controlled, timed entry, but once inside they couldn't stop people from being stupid, and we found ourselves a bit too close to groups that didn't seem to care. And in the bike shop...not a single mask to be seen, other than our own. We didn't run out screaming--hell, we bought the Spouse Thingy a new bike while there--but maybe we should have left.

We both woke up the next day with sniffles. Mine lead into a full blown upper respiratory thing, which was thankfully not COVID, but it still ticked me off. The rest of the week was spent at home, coughing.


But hey...we still had Disneyland in November. Until I went to make reservations, and saw how much prices had gone up. Because of my assorted krap, we really need to stay on site, but the rooms had shot up from a couple hundred a night to six hundred. Tickets have gone up. Fast pass was gone. A couple of cast members I spoke to online warned that they expected the parks to be slammed from early November onward.

We noped right out of that idea and were okay with just having a week off at home to go do whatever we felt like on a whim. Movies. Walk around downtown Sac and hit up my favorite indy bookstore, Capital Books. And since every freaking thing was canceled this year, we decided to pop for something tangible for both of us, and we ventured to a mall where there was a Peloton store, and bought ourselves a Bike +.

Surprisingly, I was not the most excited about it. That was pretty equal for both of us.


But then I decided to take a ride on my cargo bike. It's very tall, especially when it's up on the center stand, and for some bizarre reason, I tried to mount the bike by swinging my leg over the very tall seat, and sprained my lower back. And I did it good...For the last couple of weeks I've barely been able to move much less think about giving the Peloton a good try.

So we had one last milestone thing to look forward to: a few days in San Francisco. It's probably my favorite place and if we ever win the lottery, we're living there. I made reservations at the Westin on Union Square, we got tickets to the Van Gogh Immersion, and planned on hitting up at least one museum. But we also planned on a lot of walking to see the city decorations, and to wander Pier 39 because we unashamedly like the touristy kind of stuff.

Have I mentioned CA is in a drought, and any rain is something to cheer and be grateful for?

I'm trying.

But.

We kept watching the weather reports, mostly out of curiosity. A week ago the weather peoples on TV said there would be rain, but that was a week ago and things change. A few days ago they seemed to agree: rain on Tuesday, not so much on Wednesday, maybe a little more on Thursday. We could handle that.

But the predictions kept getting worse, until last night when it seemed as if SF would be slammed all 3 days we intended to be there, with as much as 11 inches of rain over the week. Just the drive there seemed a bit less than safe, the one day we planned on 90% of what we were doing sounded awful, and drive home kinda iffy.

We'd been waffling for days, but last night the reality of what we didn't want hit: it seemed stupid to spend upwards of $1000 for a hotel and food, just to be utterly miserable most of the time.

So we're 4 for 4 on 2021 being a year of celebration. 4 weeks out of 4 weeks of not doing anything we intended.

Oddly...I'm okay with it. I feel like I should be more upset than I am, but it's not like we've been stuck in the house. We just haven't taken any trips that we wanted, and in the grand scheme of things those don't seem all that important. We rescheduled Van Gogh for next month, SF isn't going anywhere. Disney can go fork itself; I'd pay those prices if they were raising pay for cast members, but they aren't. It's all a profit grab, made worse by new management (IMNSHO). The aquarium will be there next year.

So...Spouse Thingy has this week off, and it's going to be wicked rainy, maybe windy, and we're not terribly upset about not getting to SF. If there are times when the rain lets up, maybe we'll venture out. Go to a movie. Go Christmas shopping (despite being done, because Christmas shopping is the one kind of shopping I like, and yes I go overboard every year but IT'S FREAKING CHRISTMAS!!!)

And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get back on the Peloton and give it a good workout for once.  Because the little I got to try it before I sprained my back? AWESOME.

Wednesday

20 October 2021

 

I was kinda stoked to set up the Spouse Thingy's bike on a trainer...not just to give him indoor ride space, but that meant I needed a new trainer. A smart trainer. One I can (theoretically) use with apps like Zwift.

I got everything set up and hoped on this afternoon to calibrate the sucker...and was met with this message: 

PEDAL UP TO 22MPH 

Um. WHAT? I am a solid 14 mph rider on a trainer. I have never hit 22, not even down Dixon's only tiny incline. I began wailing and crying because life is not fair. Or maybe just swearing under my breath. But I was not happy.

I pedaled until I wanted to hurl, which took about 45.87 seconds, and I could only manage 20mph for a few seconds. I backed off, caught my breath, and started over. Same thing, barely touch 20.

So I engaged an unhealthy amount of grumpiness, got online, and searched for an answer.

"Check your tire pressure. Then do a 10 minute warm up. THEN calibrate."

Well. It certainly would have been helpful if the product app had said that.

So I added air to my tires. I reset the tension on the trainer wheel thingy (and that is totally what it's called.) I whined about it, because what else does one do when they're 99% sure their new, kinda spendy toy might not let them do what they wanted it to do? And I hopped back on (which looks more like climbing upon it slowly, tbh) and clipped in, started the app, and did a nice, 13mph warmup. I stopped pedaling when it told me to, touched the CALIBRATE button, and was again met with

PEDAL UP TO 22 MPH

Well, fork you, too.

"I can't GO that fast," I whined out loud. Probably loud enough for the Spouse Thingy to hear in the back of the house. But I started pedaling hard, leaned forward a bit because that's what real riders on TV totally do, and watched the numbers go up.

16 mph

18 mph

20 mph

21 mph

21.99 mph

SUCCESS! YOU ARE NOW CALIBRATED!

Bitch, you couldn't give me that last .01mph? I hocked up my lungs for you. They're right there on the floor, next to the contents of my stomach and half of my spleen.

Still.

For now, the damn thing is calibrated. I can now try to figure out how to hook up a laptop to the TV in front of my bike and then use Zwift, where I will not race but just ride around whatever little tracks they have laid out, and then whine because I am not going as fast as I do outside.

I might even check out FulGaz, where I can ride outside while I am actually inside, because why not?

I have a book on riding to write. Surely my editor will be so proud when 90% of it is done in my office while watching animated worlds slide by.

Oh, in other news, if I didn't mention it, I signed a contract to write a book about riding in your 60s. I am in no way qualified to write this book, but they asked and I get free stuff out of it.

Go me.


13 October 2021

Oddz-n-Endz #894,592,999,999

This desk is, despite the horrible picture, gorgeous. It's the dream desk, the one I always wanted and was so thrilled to finally get.

But.

After fighting it for 7 years or so, it's time to admit that it's not working for me and it has to go. It's about one inch too tall for me to work comfortably and raising my chair doesn't work because I'm tall enough that my legs then won't fit under it.

It's not a desk issue so much as it is one with my back. The problem will be selling it.

It's pretty big. And it's not a cheap Ikea piece; it was spendy. It's not like I want to give it away. But I hate the headaches that will come with trying to list it somewhere and all the "will you take $100?" when it's worth a hell of a lot more. "Will you deliver?" Do I know you personally? Then, no. "Will you take a check?" Do I know you personally? Then, no. 

Really wishing there was somewhere we could put it on consignment just to avoid dealing with people. Because people? They're just too peopley.

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Yesterday I had my first physical in...forever. I've had check ups and routine appointments with my endocrinologist, but this was the first real physical in as long as I can remember. My endo wanted to and my PCD agreed, because they wanted to get to the root cause of my kidney disease. Mostly, what the hell is causing it?

So dutifully, I went to see him 3 months ago, after my annual visit with the endo. First order of business was to go pee in a cup and then get a kidney ultrasound, looking for stones or strictures, anything abnormal.

Two hours after the ultrasound I had the results: everything looked fine.

I was happy. But I still had 3 months until the pre-physical bloodwork and the exam, and I have been just a little bit concerned about the idea that one day I would wind up on dialysis.

As an aside, I've done Nutrisystem on and off for a while, and right about that time--while I had been off it for about a year--someone posted to the FB support group that they'd been at stage 4 CKD and after a couple of months on NS, they dropped to stage 2. It's a lower sodium diet, and for some people, sodium does not play well with the kidneys.

I figured, what the hell. I liked most of the food and I didn't have to be a slave to it, so why not? The Spouse Thingy was fine with fending for himself for dinner most nights and I would still cook on weekend nights that he worked.

And hell, maybe I could shave off a few of the pounds I gained while Max and Buddah were declining and then gone. I gained 20 pounds, all of it owed to grief and not giving a damn. I ate my feelings. And I'm not one bit sorry about that. But I do know I need to get it off now.

Cut to yesterday. 

My eGFR, the number we've been focusing on, went from stage 3a CKD to normal. Just barely. Like, it's the last number in the normal range. But I hit it. My creatine went from Oh No numbers to normal. My BP was great. Resting HR was great. The only thing out of range was my cholesterol, but the numbers weren't such that he was concerned and didn't feel like meds were called for yet, and much of that is likely genetic.

I'll keep at the diet and exercise and see where it is next year, and if it's the same, I'll opt for meds the.

But...my kidneys were normal. Not worse. 

I'm sticking with Nutrisystem for the time being, until I learn to cook more things lower sodium.

But yeah. I'm stoked.

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And hey, my NS order literally just arrived. I expected it to be delayed because...FedEx. 

So of course, with all this, we're going out for dinner.

It's a good day, though.

Hit me up if you want a desk LOL
 

Saturday

2 October 2021

I finished the Great Cycle Challenge with a couple of days to spare, hit 300 on the nose, and then took a few days off. I didn't intend to take more than one day off, but two nights of 3-hour sleep made sure of it. So fingers crossed that I sleep tonight, so I can get outside early enough to get some miles in before it gets warm out.


For October, I signed up for a breast cancer virtual ride; 150 miles to be ridden by the end of the month. No sweat there, I can do that. And double no sweat, I'm not fundraising for it; I self-funded (tax deduction!) and if something pops up I won't feel too bad about not finishing.

I'll finish.

But...more than that, there's this:

2021 Rad Power RadWagon Cargo Bike.

Before y'all roll your eyes and grunt, "Not another bike," this one is largely work-related. My editor added to the bike stable because (or "on account of," if you're Hyrum) I signed a contract to write a book on cycling in your senior years. Part of that will be replacing as many in-town errands as I can, and when I slap a basket on the back of this, I'll be able to haul a ton of groceries.

That front thing is going once Rad gets small baskets back in stock. It's got storage area, but for some reason it bugs me visually. That seat is also going because...ow. It may be the worst saddle I've ever been on.

I'll take it for a trial run tomorrow after I put the big basket on the back. Presuming I can wrestle the screws loose. The kid who delivered it said they might be a bit tough.

The book isn't due until Jan 2023, which is the longest lead time I've ever had. Ideally that gives me a hell of a lot of time to ride and write, but it also gives me a lot of time to procrastinate.

I'm damned good at that.

Like, DAMNED good.

Also...I need a bigger garage.

Wednesday

22 September 2021

 

In the last 8 days I've ridden 157.6 miles and I have 117 to go. 

I'd planned to knock that to under 100 today, thinking I'd do 15 on the road bike outside and later in the day another 5-10 inside.

Then I go up this morning coated in ouchiness and fatigue.

Nope, not getting sick again. I'm fine.

I hoped that all I needed was to wake up a bit more, get some food and water in me, and I'd be good to go. After an hour or so, I got off my asterisk and headed for my bike shorts...and it was a giant NOPE.

I had those suckers in hand for a good 2-3 minutes, and realized what I need more than anything is a rest day.

So I'm taking one.

It skews my daily average needed from 14.65 to 16.71, but in the grand scheme of things, that's negligible. If I split my rides and do two a day over the next 7 days, I can do it.

But for today...I'm just watching TV and playing video games, pretending that the dishwasher doesn't need to be unloaded and that there aren't dirty ones in the sink, and if I do anything that requires real movement at all, it'll be some time spent playing Beat Saber tonight, once it's cooled down.

Yep, because of space constraints inside, we have to play outside. (At least Diesel doesn't have chit fits when we're in out own yard anymore. Nor is he jumping over the fence, so we're not listening to nonstop barking and don't have to worry about canine help. Diesel is a good boy, after all. He was just loaded with anxiety, and his people got him the help he needed.) We're trying to figure out what can be moved and where to create a play space inside, because I am delicate and colder weather is coming.

But, yeah...rest day today. I'll get it done...just not today.