Help me out here, Internets

I’ve been bitching about this on the social networks, so a lot of you know this already–but here’s a post on the general theme of It’s Official, Surgically Enforced Early Menopause Sucks. By which I mean, the vicious hot flashes that’ve been swamping me for the last few weeks. My sleep’s been shot to hell, and I’ve been waking up at least three or four times a night.

Which has meant I’ve been pretty much thrashed, physically and mentally. I’ve been just functional enough to keep making it to work, but not much besides that, including getting any decent progress done on the writing or music. It’s very hard to write a book when you have an inner dragon doing this.

What Hot Flashes Feel Like
What Hot Flashes Feel Like

So what have I been doing about this? A few things.

One, I’ve been horribly snorky lately as well, so at Dara’s recommendation I’ve been hitting some first-generation antihistamines before going to bed. Specifically, the stuff in Benadryl, diphenhydramine.

Two, at the recommendation of my massage therapist, I’ve been taking an adrenal supplement to get my system to stand down out of crisis mode (due to having to recover from surgery), and decrease the amount of cortisol running through me.

Three, most significantly, reading around on the Internets (and in particular, skimming the forums on pointed me to references about how it’s common for Asian women to not have hot flashes nearly so badly, due to high-soy diets. I deemed this as requiring immediate investigation–and discovered, after ordering a tofu dish from the Chinese place near our house, that two nights’ worth of using that dish as dinner tamped down the hot flashes HARD.

I have since been able to replicate this with another tofu dish, and am therefore now deploying an emergency soy surge to my diet for the next few weeks until my scheduled physical with my primary care doc, and my followup with my oncologist as well. We’ll be discussing a proper game plan for dealing with these symptoms, as well as whether dietary changes are a feasible plan long-term.

For now though I’ve got some soymilk for putting on cereal and into my tea, as well as some soy-based yogurt. And I’ve been having miso in the morning AND in the evening. It’s helping. It scales down my inner dragon to this.

Really, the Dragon Just Wants a Soy Smoothie
Really, the Dragon Just Wants a Soy Smoothie

Either way, Internets, this is where YOU all come in. Tell me about your favorite tofu recipes! What are interesting things to do to tofu?

Also tell me about your favorite soy-based snacks as well! And thank you all in advance for any pointers!

Medical update

This is another one of those posts you don’t need to read if you don’t know me personally, but which I’m sharing on the off chance that it might be beneficial to other women who have to go through the same thing.

The general theme of this post is “surgically-induced menopause sucks” (punctuated, if you will, by Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon bellowing “WHAT A DAMN NUISANCE!”). Medical things about my girl parts behind the fold.

Continue reading “Medical update”

One week surgery recovery report

So far so good.

I’ve been very sleepy a lot for the past seven days, as you’d expect with a lot of Percocet in my system. Percocet also kicks my ass harder than Vicodin does–for a lot of my previous medical crap I’ve had, I’ve had Vicodin rather than Percocet, and I’m pretty sure I have to go clear back to when I broke my arm for the last time I was on Percocet. This stuff makes me have very weird, very intense dreams, and sometimes sensory hallucinations as well. I get into a half-dreaming state dozing off, and imagine things like people coughing outside, or somebody tapping my shoulder, or the cats making prolonged, siren-like whining noises.

The dreams have been weird, too. This morning’s involved my dreaming I was Liv Tyler, the actress who played Arwen in The Lord of the Rings, only this was on the set of The Hobbit. (Note: Liv Tyler is not actually in the Hobbit movies, but this was dream logic at work here.) Dream-me (as Liv) was on my way to a scene, only I came across one of the actors playing one of the hobbits in the movie. Somebody had attacked him and stuffed him into the bottom of a remote-controlled barrel on wheels that was out of control on the set. I had to retrieve the poor guy–he was a little person, actually hobbit-sized, as opposed to a more typically-sized actor being shrunk down via CGI for the role–and get him to security. And then get to my scene.

I remember that the set was laid out bizarrely like a cross between a theme park and bits of the Harrison Hot Springs resort that we were in this past July. And that I had to work my way back around to the front of the grounds and go through a VIP line to show them my credentials and demonstrate that I was, in fact, one of the cast. Which is the last thing I remember before I woke up.

So hi yeah, this is my brain on Percocet.

Not too much pain to deal with, thankfully. I’m sure most of this has to do with the aforementioned Percocet, though there are bits of me suggesting that they’re still tender enough that once I slack off on the painkillers, they’re going to be crankier at me. Which suggests that I’m probably going to need at least one more round of pain meds to finish up recovering; this is consistent with my recovery patterns with previous medical adventures.

Also, working from home was the exact correct plan here. I’m getting coherent enough that I can actually accomplish stuff on the computer but I am not physically up to my usual commute patterns of bus + four miles of walking in a day. I’m barely managing to make it through a full day without needing a long nap in mid-afternoon, and even with a long nap, I’m going to bed rather earlier than is normal for me as well.

Still not letting George on the lap, either, which bemuses the poor kitty. But he’s 14 pounds of cat and periodically pointy on five of his six ends, so if he gets on the lap at all right now, it’s with the buffer of the largest pillow we have in the house.

I have at least gotten to the point where I can work from home and will be working on automation updates for my team this week. And I’ve also managed to do a lot of operating system upgrades on my personal computers as well as on my work laptop. Put Mavericks on my main Mac laptop, and it did not explode, so I figure this is an accomplishment on my part.

Session happened this past Wednesday and my session peeps actually played a song for me. (heart) They did “La Fée des Dents”, which I’ve posted about before, being partial to that one as one of the ones I can actually play. Looking forward to having enough physical strength back so I can actually stand to play my various flutes. Not too sanguine about wanting to strain my stomach with necessary breath control quite yet. But I do have the small carbon fiber flute on the way! Hope to be able to show y’all pics of that real soon.

Be another couple weeks before I can start pulling words out of my brain again, but starting in December, come hell or high water, I will be editing Bone Walker. And also starting planning for Victory of the Hawk. Somewhere in there will be a copyedit round on Vengeance of the Hunter, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to show y’all some cover art for that.

More news as it happens, and as I continue to get my brain back.

And now, the hospital report

As pretty much expected, I was at Evergreen only from yesterday morning until this morning. Many, many mad thanks and props to my friend Dejah Leger, who gave me a ride to the hospital, hung out there until I was out of surgery and settled into a room, and then came back to get me this morning. We got in some lovely musicgeeking about various Quebec musicians and hard-to-find albums, too.

Everything went well and Evergreen’s staff took good care of me. I got several nurses making very sympathetic noises indeed as I explained that my wife hadn’t been able to accompany to the hospital due to recovering from her own surgery. And to my surprise I honestly haven’t been in much pain at all following the procedure. My stomach feels weirdly stiff and sore, but to the degree of “I did a whole bunch of situps” rather than being actively painful. I can move around pretty well and I’m pretty coherent. I am on mild painkillers, but so far have needed only a single Percocet and a Tylenol when it’s time for me to have any painkillers at all. We’ll see if that continues once the anesthesia finishes processing out of my system.

I’m instructed to walk as much as I can tolerate, although I am not to do any vigorous exercising, and I’m to do “active” resting as well–things that let me read, or be on the computer, or in general keeping me occupied as long as I’m taking it easy. Which, already planned for. Yay, crappy movie marathon!

It turned out to be a very good idea to cut my hair, since that helped make me more comfortable at the hospital. And I spent most of the evening alternating between looking at Facebook comments, playing Plants Vs. Zombies 2, and reading a Nora Roberts novel on my Nook. Zonked out around 7:40ish and slept off and on through the night, round about to 6ish or so in the morning. This morning, Dr. Isbell showed up to chat with me and clear me to go home, and Dejah showed up at 10 to get me, so great turnaround time there, really.

The type of hysterectomy I had was specifically geared towards minimal recovery time, for which I’m grateful–specifically, laparosopsic hysterectomy. Since I’m still pretty young and healthy they felt this would be a good choice for me. And given that I am in fact in minimal pain at the moment, it certainly seems like it was the correct decision!

Now, they did go ahead and take my ovaries and tubes, too, so this was pretty much a complete uninstall of reproduction.lib, as it were. So any future attempts at reproduction on my part will have to involve cloning, or parthenogenesis, or maybe just splitting in half like an amoeba. Or maybe getting Dara to build me a duplicator, or getting a hold of the copier that can duplicate people in that episode of Gravity Falls.

And okay yeah yeah I could also more figuratively reproduce myself in my work an’ stuff.

So now I’m at home and I get to wear pajama pants and loose shirts, and watch a whole LOT of crappy movies. Dara goes in for her next eye followup tomorrow afternoon, at which point, hopefully, she’ll be cleared to look up again. At that point, the Movie Suckoff will officially begin!

Many thanks, many hugs, and much love to folks on various sites who have been sending kind words, offers of meals, and offers of companionship. Thanks again to Dejah for playing chauffeur, which is totally getting her dinner at a future date of her choosing, and probably a bottle of Sortilege as soon as I can find her some. Thanks to Geri in BC, who’s sending us some help for Dara’s stressed back and neck. And thanks to Kaye, who sent us a big ol’ gift package full of chocolate-covered strawberries and pineapples and general tasty treats!


Once Dara’s cleared to look up again and we can return the couch to its usual configuration (right now we’ve got it set up so she can lay on it as comfortably as possible and play with her iPad at the same time), we’ll be visitable. Local folks, if you want to come over, just let us know! Call me if you have my number, or email, or drop me a PM on Facebook, whatevs.

And as a lovely postscript, I’ve also just received word that my other carbon fiber flute purchase, the fife in D, is ready to be shipped up to me! And I just got my “Greetings from Mount AWESOME” t-shirt as well from Teefury. :D

Now comes the recovery agenda for the week, and movies, and more reading. Cherie Priest just dropped her brand new release, Fiddlehead, which I happily slurped down onto the Nook; I’ll be buying the paperback of that ASAP as well. And I got a Kickstarter backer reward for my friend Chrysoula Tzavelas’ new release as well, Infinity Key! And I hope to finally finish up Chapter 14 of the Trilingual Hobbit Reread, too!

All in all this’ll be a relaxing week.

Final round of surgery prep

Last round of errands and household chores today, before I head in for the surgery tomorrow. And one of the big things I did today was get a haircut–partly because my hair had gotten to that “okay, officially too long now” point that I periodically hit anyway, but mostly because if my hair is short, it’s way lower maintenance. And since I’m about to spend the rest of the month in recovery mode, low maintenance hair is a good thing indeed.

And this is the new haircut. Not bad for a phone selfie, if I do say so myself.

Short Hair Selfie
Short Hair Selfie

Meanwhile, I also got my thyroid prescription renewed a week early so I don’t have to worry about that later. I bought a few pairs of sweat pants as well as some pajamas since I was advised to wear loose things, and I did manage to find some pajamas that weren’t too stupid-looking.

AND, most importantly, I have acquired five of the six crappy movies for the forthcoming next round of the Murkworks Movie Suckoff! I had to swap in Alligator and Crocodile for the shark contenders, given that Scarecrow didn’t have Ghost Shark, Snow Shark, or Sand Sharks. And while they did have Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, it’s still a new enough movie that Scarecrow still has it on 2-day rental status, which ain’t gonna work. So we’ll be streaming that one. Still though I did rent five things from Scarecrow and that does my heart good.

Rest of the day will go to laundry and bathroom cleanup and synopsis writing. After midnight I’ll go on “can’t have any food or beverages” status, and Dejah will come get me in the morning so I can report for “be knocked out so they can do uncomfortable things to my innards” duty.

I may or may not be able to post from the hospital; we’ll see how coherent I am after the procedure is done. Evergreen has wifi so in theory once they settle me into a room for the evening I should be able to check in. But if not I’ll check in as soon as I’m able to come home. More bulletins as events warrant, all.

Medical update on me and Dara both

As many of you saw me posting on the social networks last night, Dara had round two of her eye surgery last night. This was done in a different facility, and this time by a different surgeon as well. Everything went pretty much okay, and I got a lot of sympathetic noises from the nurses who were looking after Dara afterwards, when I told them that I get to go in for a hysterectomy on Monday.

(It was in the middle of one of those conversations that I realized that Dara and I really have had quite the tour of many of the Seattle area’s major medical facilities. I was at UW Medical in the U district when I broke my arm; Swedish did my thyroidectomies; Dara was at Harborview for treatment for the car accident; Evergreen, of course, has been my cancer care, and they also handled last year’s fun with h. pylori and they’re handling the hysto stuff as well. And now we’ve been to UW Medical in Northgate AND to the facility over in Bellevue. And OH YES we’ve also been over to the Overlake Emergency Care Clinic as well. All told: we’ve become rather involuntary connoisseurs of all the medical care Puget Sound has to offer.)

Today, we had the followup with last night’s surgeon. Who says that Dara’s eye is looking good (and honestly it looks less scary than it did after the first round), BUT, he also says that she needs to keep her head under positional restrictions until the next followup appointment, which will be either Wednesday or Thursday; we’re scheduling that on Monday.

This, clearly, makes Monday a problem. So I am already coordinating with Dejah from my Quebec session crowd, who has kindly volunteered to be my chauffeur to and from Evergreen. This frees up Paul to be at the house in case Dara needs anything (she’ll probably be okay, but better to have someone on hand just in case), and also so that he can look after the cats (and since Fred’s on medication, that does need some attending to). So we’ll make it through this coming week, it’ll just start off a bit bumpier than expected, is all.

And Dejah is a rock star, a folk star, and a star of all other musical genres, and I WILL be buying her dinner at some later date of her choosing.

Now we’re just counting down to Monday at this point and taking care of various and sundry errands and household chores that need dealing with.

Anna the Piper Industries appreciates your patience during this time of erratic functionality, O Internets, and we promise to return you soon to your regularly scheduled programming of writing, tunes practice, and fangirling well-played fiddles and bouzoukis. Stand by.

Game plan for this weekend and next week

I’m taking Dara to her eye surgery this afternoon at 4pm. I’m expecting this to be pretty much a repeat of round 1, which is to say, it’ll be likely she’ll have to spend tonight constantly looking at her own feet, including sleeping face down.

Tonight I expect any entertainment is going to be strictly audio, since if Dara has to return to Feetlandia, she won’t be able to watch any TV.

Tomorrow there will be a post-op followup, to see how she’s doing and what kind of positional restrictions she has to maintain to promote healing of the eye this time.

Monday at 11am is when we need to report for my surgery to Evergreen. We are planning for this to be an overnight stay, although there is a possibility that they might send me home early if things go well enough. Whether or not Dara will be able to accompany me to Evergreen, and whether she will be able to spend the night if she does, will depend on how Saturday’s followup appointment goes.

A few of you have already offered transport duties, and that’s much appreciated. Though since we are a three-person household, Paul’s already kindly agreed to take care of getting me (and hopefully also Dara) to and from Monday’s adventures. Everybody please think ongoing positive thoughts that Paul’s health stays solid, mmkay?

A couple of you have also kindly offered to come cook for Dara and me, or bring us a meal. That is also most appreciated. If you’d like to discuss that with me further, email or PM as appropriate. Pretty much “any time Tuesday or later” will be the time frame to shoot for there.

Meanwhile I’m going to be spending this weekend doing the synopsis for Vengeance, taking care of cleaning up stuff as best I can since Dara and I both will be effectively out of commission for some days, and other necessary “prior to my brain going into Vicodin mode” tasks.

Good thoughts, virtual hugs, lit candles, playing of music, or any other positive activities are, again, most appreciated. October and November are turning out to be rough for the Murkworks this year, and apparently 2013 is making up for the off-time from medical crap we had in 2010, 2011, and most of 2012.

So much for going to OryCon

Dara had another followup appointment about her eye surgery this afternoon–and was informed, much to our dismay, that she had further retinal tearing. There had been a ten percent chance that this would happen, and apparently, she’s just managed to roll REALLY badly on her Luck roll.

This means another round of eye surgery tomorrow. And no going down to OryCon this weekend. AUGH. We’ve cancelled our hotel reservations and gotten our Amtrak points back for the train, and additionally, OryCon’s concom said oh god yes of COURSE we can have a membership refund; they’ll deal with that after the con is over.

So. Dara’s next round of eye surgery is tomorrow at 4pm. Which means I get to spend tomorrow morning writing a proper synopsis of Vengeance of the Hunter to hand over to my editor, and then I will take Dara to her procedure. She’ll have a post-op followup on Saturday as well.

This may make Monday more challenging. We’d already realized that oh shit Dara’s not cleared to drive yet, and had gotten Paul’s agreement to drive us to and from my surgery. However, now that Dara’s going to have to have another procedure of her own, this may make it difficult for her to go with me to the hospital at all. Much will depend upon whether she is still under position restrictions by Monday, since the first round of this fun required her to spend the next day or so constantly looking at her feet and having to sleep face down as well. Which would be PROBLEMATIC, trying to stay overnight with me at Evergreen. But we’ll see what happens with that as of Saturday.

Tonight Paul made us a tasty dinner, and there’s been cider, and I’m also having a shot of cake vodka, given that tonight pretty much took a hard turn into the land of Fuck Everything. The forecast of instruments being picked up later tonight is also very, very high.

Please keep us in your thoughts, folks. And if anybody finds the son of a bitch who decided to bump up our medical misfortune this year, let me know, okay? I have a heat ray and an itchy trigger finger. >:|

Oh look yet MORE medical fun

And this time, it’s Dara’s turn.

Dara was experiencing some weird vision problems, an uptick in the number of floaters she was seeing in her right eye, and so she scheduled an appointment with an ophthalmologist yesterday to get herself checked out. The verdict: she’s got retinal tearing. JOY. Which means that today, she gets to go in for emergency eye surgery, because if they leave this untreated, it could lead to blindness in that eye.

NOT AN OPTION, so yeah, we’re dealing with this NOW. With LASERS. Because that’s what a supervillain and her right-hand girl do: solve problems with lasers!

From what Dara learned, this is very old damage resulting from childhood abuse trauma (Dara talks some about said abuse on her link, trigger warning as appropriate). A weak spot in her eye finally gave way, and there are a couple other spots that are also in danger of tearing, so while the surgeon’s in there, he’s going to secure those too.

Today I’m going to work from home so that I can accompany Dara to the surgery. I need to be there since a) she’s my wife f’r chrissakes, and b) I’m also the one authorized to make medical decisions for her if need be, since we are each other’s PoAs, with appropriate paperwork saying so. I’m likely going to be chugging through the line edits on Vengeance of the Hunter while I’m waiting, and then I’m going to come home with her, jump on the VPN, and do day job work.

All hail my team at work who are being VERY understanding with this sudden outbreak of medical adventures on my and Dara’s part, too. Gods, we’re tired of this. And between this and my fun still coming up next month, we’re sad that this’ll mean we probably won’t be able to make Worldcon in the UK next year, just because we’re going to be paying off medical bills over the next several months. AGAIN.

But I’m still going to see Le Vent du Nord in Victoria next March. And very likely De Temps Antan in Vancouver the weekend before. Because after all this shit, I’m here to tell you, people, gonna need me some music.

I’ll be posting updates on how things go on the social networks today, so for those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook or G+, be on the lookout for further bulletins as events warrant.