It's been a while, and it's been rough. I noticed a few months ago (not long after my surgery) that while my anxiety was close to under control, my depression was getting worse. It took a while to convince myself that I actually needed help, but I finally got a referral to a psychologist.

While the new doctor is lovely, I think we need some different kind of treatment. She took me off Citalapram (which was my anti-anxiety med) completely, and increased my dosage of Wellbutrin (my anti-depressant) from 100mg to 300mg, then to 450mg. Things started getting rough after that, because the anxiety came back full-force. I've become prone to breaking out in stress hives when an anxiety attack is imminent, and right now, my arms look like I've been attacked by mosquitoes. When I mentioned this, the doctor recommended I take Benadryl when I start feeling the hives.

Right now, I've gone back down to 300mg, and I'm already feeling the depression trying to take a foothold. At this point, I'm just sick of it all. I'm not even sure what's me anymore, and what's the medication. Part of me wants to stop taking everything and try to figure out where I am again, and part of me is terrified of doing just that.

I'm here! I'm here!

I survived 2014! I realize I probably should have said something after the surgery, but you know, better late than never. Things seem to be back to normal-ish, and the pain isn't anywhere near what it was. An unexpected bonus - the pain medication that the doctor gave me post-surgery completely kills the Headaches of Doom! Not something I can take all the time, but it means I don't have to be completely incapacitated. Huzzah!

I realize I haven't been around here much - I spend most of my online time either on Google Plus or my blog. I'm trying to figure out how to automatically post here from my blog, but I'm having issues - anybody have any ideas?

Overall, I'm just trying to get back to normal. Anxiety remains a bear, but I'm managing. I've given myself some solid goals with regards to my writing this year, which I'm hoping will give me milestones to reach and keep me on track. I got some new ink (pictures here), based on lyrics by seanan_mcguire and vixyish, and I've been incredibly happy with them (and pleased with the responses, because it's just so cool to see one of my favorite authors link to my blog and talk about my tattoos!). It's been a great thing to keep me motivated.
XBox Me

Post-surgical update

Well, I survived. Evidently the mega-fibroid was more problematic than anticipated (it was twisted around the stalk that attached it to my uterus), and there was another big fibroid that my doctor took care of at the same time. I was up and walking around on Wednesday afternoon, and was able to go home Thursday afternoon. Evidently, I was healing faster than anticipated, but I just knew I wanted to get home and, if nothing else, stop having needles poked into me. My poor left hand looks like it's been pounded on with a mallet.

I'm struggling to stay focused, especially now that I'm working again (from home, so at least I still don't have to succumb to the tyranny of pants). I've been lethargic and I've found myself staring off into space a few times. This, naturally, means that I'm behind on Nanowrimo. I'm just trying to keep it together, because the last thing I want is to be needing help every five minutes. I know it means I'm probably pushing myself harder than absolutely necessary, but I just want to be done with all of this.

All I hope after all this is that it helps in the long run. It would be wonderful if I could mark off one source of constant pain. My doctor said that they contemplated removing more of the fibroids, but, as she put it, "there wouldn't be much uterus left if we did." One of the fibroids is also under a fallopian tube, so it would add an extra layer of complexity to remove. At some point, I'll probably have to have this same surgery again, or just have the whole mess removed as it's failing in its job. It had ONE JOB.

At any rate, I'm here, I'm still kicking, only not, because that would hurt. Time to try and get things done.
out of mind

Health and whatnot

This morning I had my pre-op meeting with my doctor. I'm scheduled to go in on Wednesday at 5:30am, and will be on the table by 7:30am to have the mega-fibroid (the one that's big enough to squish everything else out of the way and cause pain) and a polyp from the inside of the uterus removed. I won't be able to have a laparoscopic surgery, as the mega-fibroid is too big, so they'll be opening me up. The appointment was a lot of "here's the terrible type of things that can happen, and here's the likelihood of them happening, which is to say, not very." Eric was able to be there with me, thank God, because I was absolutely terrified the entire time.

In a little over a week, I'm going to be unconscious while people I don't really know cut me open and mess around with my insides. I'll most likely need to stay overnight in a hospital (something I've never done before), and will be on medication that will do who knows what to my upper cognitive functions. Eric's going to be home with me, so I won't be completely alone, but it's not something I'm looking forward to.

My coworkers keep telling me to look at it like it's a nice little break. I'll be completely offline for a few days, and then working from home for a week afterwards to give me some more time to recover from the surgery before I fight the public transit commute. It would be one thing if I were taking some kind of vacation, but that's not what this is.

My doctor remains awesome, and she knows how nerve-wracking this is for me. (She said that she much prefers to have patients who are nervous about surgery than those who are a little too excited about it.) Right now, I just have to get things in order for work so I can leave for a few days and not be leaving a mess behind for my coworkers, all while fighting the mother of all panic attacks with some crippling pain to go with it.

Stupid bodies. Can't I trade it in for a newer model?
XBox Me

Health updates

So it's been a while, and I have news across the board. First, the most dramatic, I guess - on November 5th, I will be going in for surgery to have a large fibroid, a small fibroid, and a polyp removed. I will not need to have a hysterectomy. After the last round of testing, my doctor determined that the largest fibroid (hereafter referred to as "Mega-Roid") is only attached by a small stalk, and is not deeply embedded as previously thought.

Due to the size of Mega-Roid, a laparoscopy isn't the best option for me, as it would be longer and more complicated than an open surgery. I decided to go with the method that means I'm under for less time and don't have to come anywhere near something called a morcellator. (Man, Chrome's spell check is having a field day with this post.) It's still not something I'm super thrilled about, and the previously-unknown polyp is cause for a bit of concern, but there's not much I can do about that until it's been removed and tested.

Between panic and the growing pain, I am, on the whole, not OK. I've had to spend several days working from home, either because the panic is going into overdrive or because the pain leaves me unable to stay upright. I am seeking help, meeting with my therapist regularly and having my pain levels carefully monitored by my doctor. Last week was probably the worst it's been - I felt like I was in a fog, either from pain or from panic, which led to some issues with the depression. So far this week, things are going a bit better. I'm taking things one day at a time, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have friends and family who have been immensely supportive, and who are completely willing to let me take the time to take care of myself.

In college, before the big breakdown, I remember feeling like things were getting bad, and so I started to pull away from everyone to try and focus on getting myself back together. At the time, it felt like there were a lot of people who depended on me in one way or the other, and I remember sitting with one of them and talking about how I was having a rough time and was trying to focus on myself for once. I jokingly said, "Yeah, I'm going to try being selfish for once," and his response was "Yes, you are. You're being completely selfish." He wasn't joking. That attitude has been stuck in my head and keeps me from taking the time I need all the time. I know it's dumb, and it's one comment from a young man that I don't even talk to anymore, but it stuck, and it's been really hard to overcome.

All in all, I'm doing my best to make it through all of this. My boss has been fantastic about the whole thing, which has been a huge weight off my shoulders. Soon, at least one part of my pain will hopefully go away. Now it's just a matter of making it to that point.
XBox Me

(no subject)

Thank you guys for the support on the last post. I still feel more comfortable spilling my guts here than in the other social media outlets, so you might be seeing more from me going forward. I will say it was somewhat gratifying on Facebook, though - I posted a somewhat vague "Hey, gonna have to have surgery, kinda freaked out" post, and within minutes two good friends had texted me and my older brother called - CALLED! He's practically allergic to the phone, but he needed to know what was going on. I don't think he really appreciated finding out about his sister's uterus, but hey, I gave him fair warning.

For now, I'm just exhausted. I'd kind of gotten used to the constant head pain, and can usually push through without too much trouble anymore. But having a new constant pain, along with the low-level panic that's going on pretty much all the time, is wiping me out. I need to ping my therapist again to see when I can get in to see her, but in the meantime it just feels like it's all I can do to stay upright and going through the motions. I can feel the depression sinking its fangs in, and I hate it. At least this time I can say pretty confidently that I'm not in danger of hurting myself, because most of my panic is over being hurt by the surgery. So that's something, I guess.

I need to get moving, I need to do things, and I just...can't. I have no spoons left to be myself anymore. I know full well that I'm letting this little thing take over everything, and I'm completely overreacting and being melodramatic. (Wow, channeled my mother from my teenage years for a minute there.) I know this will pass, and even though I won't be the same on the other side of it (even if it's just physically), I'll still be me. I just need to get to the other side of it, and that seems to be the difficult part right now.
XBox Me

Updates on the home front

Wow, but it's been a long time. I have no idea if anyone's still reading this, but I feel more comfortable spilling my guts here than in the various social media outlets I use for the day to day mundanity. At any rate, things are getting...to me, at least, they're getting scary.

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I'm absolutely terrified. I've never had any kind of surgery before, and the idea of being knocked unconscious and cut into is pretty much my worst nightmare (second worst, actually - being awake while they do it is the worst nightmare). And even though I've resigned myself to not being a mother, I'm still not a huge fan of the idea of getting...whatever the female version of "emasculated" is. I don't particularly want to go into menopause at 33.

My doctor is fantastic, and is well aware of my concerns. She isn't going to make me schedule this a second sooner than I'm ready for it, but it does need to happen. I just hate being this scared, and knowing that my body's betraying me like this.

RIP VIII - Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken, Original Cover

I've been a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) for several years, having followed her LJ and blog before her first book came out. When she mentioned that she was going to be taking on the gothic genre, I was all over it. The fact that she spent many weeks leading up to the release of the book discussing the gothic romances/mysteries that she read as research, and pointing out just how ridiculous and awesome they are, certainly didn't hurt. I approached Unspoken eagerly.

Kami Glass, girl reporter, has lived in the village of Sorry-in-the-Vale her entire life, and has always had a boy named Jared speaking to her in her head. Naturally, this has worried her family and friends, but Kami is generally well-adjusted, and has learned to hide her discussions with Jared. Until the day that the remaining members of the Lynburn family, the family that rules the village, comes back to their home, and Kami discovers that Jared is real.

The reveal is done gloriously - there's no looking deep into each other's eyes, knowing each other as their soul mate. No. There is panicking and freaking out and reacting basically the way anyone would if a figment of their imagination turned out to be real. I absolutely adore this about the book; it's nice to see characters react realistically to unrealistic circumstances.

In the midst of all of this, Kami is determined to find out what is causing violent changes to happen to her town. The additional fantastic elements are woven into the story very well, and by the time the big reveal happens, it makes sense.

There are a few instances where there are awkward jumps in scene or location, that are a little hard to follow, but that's my only nit to pick. The combination of the shift in gender roles (compared to what is generally seen in gothic romances) and well-developed characters makes for a wonderful, heartbreaking read. Overall, I enjoyed it as much as I cursed the author's name, and I'm approaching the sequel with equal parts trepidation and excitement.

4 stars

In the land of Steph

It's been an interesting few months. To wit:

1. Work - Things are getting both better and worse there. I've been taking on more responsibility, which is good, but I've been butting heads with my manager more and more. I've been working on a project lately that is no longer me working on a tool that our team will use, and more me being a software developer for a client. That's not what I want in a career, and it's making me really frustrated. I'd previously been looking at openings in other departments in my company, and my manager was aware of that; he asked me what I would like out of my current role that would make me want to stay. Of course, we had that discussion before the project from hell got so, well, hellish, which would probably change my answer. The project should be ending fairly soon, though, so I think I just need to push through it and do the best I can.

2. Health - Eric and I have both been working on getting healthier and losing weight, and things are starting to pay off. He's lost almost 40 (!) pounds since April, and I've lost about 25. I think this is my version of a mid-life crisis - I realized not too long ago that I'm getting close to the age my father was when he had his first heart attack. Between that, and realizing that children are no longer in the game plan for us, it's been a bit of a shock to the system. At the same time, I think that for the first time in a really long time, I no longer just don't want to die - I actively want to LIVE. The Headaches of Doom still strike with distressing frequency, but the panic attacks have lessened significantly. Even living with constant pain, I'm still feeling better. I still have self-confidence issues, and I don't see those going away any time soon, but I'm occasionally more OK with being in the limelight, rather than fighting to be backstage all the time.

3. Writing - I wrote my first short story, and submitted it to an anthology for consideration. I'm on my way to my first official rejection letter! It was a really great experience to get myself back into writing more regularly, and between that and the fact that I'm beta testing a sooper sekrit project at work that's geared toward writers, I've probably written more in the last three months than I had in the previous year. I've been going through some of the things that I've started for NaNo in the past, and there are some things that are surprisingly not as bad as I had thought. I've been working toward finishing some of those things, fleshing them out and cleaning them up, and I've been having such a good time with it. I realized the other day that the things that I consider essential to be with me at all times include something to read, a way to write, and a way to listen to music. No matter how many times I've said that I want to be a writer, I think it just occurred to me that I may already be a writer. There's something incredibly comforting about that.

4. Eric - I am ridiculously lucky to have found my husband. Things aren't perfect, because they never will be - there are people involved, after all. At the same time, I would much rather be in an imperfect relationship with him than in a "perfect" relationship with anyone else. He has been fantastically supportive of me, and I love the fact that he's willing to back me up with anything I want to try. I just want to make sure I'm giving back to him as much as I'm getting from him.

So overall, I'm in a pretty good place. Things aren't perfect, but they're good. And considering how bad things were and have been, I feel pretty great about "good."


So, I figure it's time to try and resurrect this journal (again), and I came across a reading challenge that seemed interesting. I think I'll be giving it a shot this fall.

The books I'm hoping to read, as far as I can tell right now:

The Historian

Unspoken (a re-read, in anticipation for...)

Untold, which comes out later this month

Mistress of the Art of Death

These are, of course, subject to change, but I think they're a good starting point.

Anyone else want to join me?