Merry Christmas 2019 Everyone!

It seems to be a common theme with my posts but I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by. 2019 was a blur!

J, Fatfish, Dumbfish, Redfish 1, Redfish 2, Lloyd, Buddy, Buddy, Buddy, Buddy, and Buddy the shrimps, and I wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday season and hope that 2020 will be a year of many ups and very few downs for you and those you care for!

This time of year can be trying, whether it’s because of people (near or otherwise), weather, stores, work, time, the length of the day or night, memories, medication, or any of the myriad of reasons that can make you feel unwell or like you don’t belong. It sucks feeling bad but you can get through it. Take care of yourself and remember to rest, eat something other than candy, stay properly hydrated, and move around a bit.

Make some time for yourself doing something you enjoy. Put on some music and tap your toes or dance around to it. Go for a walk and smell the air. Watch that movie you’ve been thinking about. Go onto YouTube and watch some videos of cute animals or something weird, like that Finnish guy who crushes stuff with a hydraulic press. Take a bath and read a book. Do something for yourself.

If you’re having a rough time, please remember that there are people who care about you and who want you to feel better. Please talk to someone, call your local emergency services (i.e. 911), go to the nearest Emergency Room or Crisis Centre, or contact a crisis line. There are some phone numbers and websites on the Resources page that may be useful.

You are not alone!

Stay safe.

It’s Been A Week?

Song: Theme From I Dream Of Jeannie by Hugo Montenegro

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

Wow… I thought I hadn’t done a post for two days – three, tops. No idea it had been a week! Lots of stuff has happened, so I suppose the best thing to do is write it out in no particular order using… BULLET POINTS!!!

  • Went to the dentist for the first time in… four years? Five? Tried a new one out (my last several visits haven’t been pleasant) and it worked out really well! No cavities, either, and I was complimented several times on my flossing, yay! Only downer was that I may have one cracked molar but that’s going to require some further investigation.
  • My sister and her family are visiting my parents. Dad stopped by for a visit before he picked them up at the airport. We had lunch and shot the breeze for a bit before he had to go. My sister and brother-in-law and nephews will be coming over to visit J and me for three days before they fly home. I’m really looking forward to seeing them!
  • FA and DM came over on the weekend for a good visit and supper. J and I had a really good time and are still talking about how much fun we had. Neither of us have ever really been big party people but we really enjoy hanging out and doing stuff with friends and family.
  • FA also came over one afternoon and we had burritos and geeked out about electronics and project-y stuff and listened to music.
  • No volunteering last week or this week – things have been pretty busy both here and at the church. Maybe next week.
  • J has done an amazing job dashing into stores to pick up last-minute things before Christmas. She’s a thousand times braver than I am (I know you already knew that), and she’s waaay smarter than I’ve ever been about what time to go into which store (I know you already knew that, too). Thank you, sweetie!!!
  • I’ve been keeping very busy when nothing else has been going on, too. I’ve designed and am printing some stuff for my nephews for when they visit, done a lot of electronics stuff… lots of figuring out how to do things, too. I’ve done some writing, some cleaning/throwing out junk. Lots of thinking, too.
  • J and I decided we weren’t going to really do gifts this year so we picked a couple of charities and made donations. We also sent some donations to some of the free software and resources we use, which was something else we’d meant to do for some time now.
  • With the time flying by the way it has and the weather this winter being unseasonably warm (I’m sure I’ll regret saying that soon enough), I haven’t really gotten into the “spirit” of the season. In some ways that may be a good thing – this time of year can be kind of rough – but I wonder if I’m going to look back in the middle of February and wish that things hadn’t gone by so quickly…
  • I’m still enjoying being more alert for more of the evening. It feels good to be functional and creative after supper. I’m still quite groggy in the mornings, but if I know something’s coming up before lunch some day I can kind of plan for it so it’s not too bad.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things – probably some that are important. Like I said, it’s been busy.

In the days before my sister and her family arrive, I think it’s going to be a quiet couple of days. We’ve been invited to a function tomorrow evening at the church that we’ve been volunteering at but I’m not sure what’s going to happen there. A big group of unfamiliar people away from the house… sounds like just the kind of thing I really try to not go to. But we’ll see. I don’t have any appointments this week, but after January 1st, things start picking up again.

Stay safe.


Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

This past weekend was very good. J had Thursday and Friday off, we went out for supper, FA came over on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday were nice and relaxing. I fell asleep on the couch once, but I remember going over and sitting on the couch to watch a show and I didn’t do any snacking. I’ve been making good use of my extra productive time in the evenings, too.

Today I went for my first eye doctor appointment in four and a half years. I have a couple of odd things with my right eye (it has laser damage and I can’t see a lot of those wiggly lines during the, uh, “wiggly line test”) so they sat me in front of all of their testing machines at one point or another. One involved eye drops to dilate my pupils, after which my optometrist got the brightest light she could find and shone it into my eyes for what seemed like forever. The good news is that my eyes are nice and healthy. I need new glasses for my distance vision but I kind of expected that was going to happen. And it’s been four and a half years…

After my appointment, I went to pick up groceries. When I got outside, I was pretty much blinded – the eye drops wouldn’t wear off for another two hours or so, so my eye-holes wouldn’t close up. And of course it had to be a nice sunny day, with the sunlight bouncing off the clean white snow all over the place.

I’m pretty sure the employee at the store thought I was trying to look like a pirate or something, because I had one eyelid clamped shut and was squinting through the smallest gap I could make with the other. Fortunately, the optometrist and the store are very close to home so it wasn’t too long before I got back into the house where I could close all the curtains and sit in the dim of the basement for a bit.

Either the light or the squinting or something gave me one of those headaches that feels like tides on a beach, except instead of water washing up on the sand it’s waves of rusty steel wool. I wasn’t too productive today as a result.

My folks called and I spoke with them for a little while. I can’t believe how quickly the time is going – my sister and her family are flying into town tomorrow and Dad is driving out here to pick them up at the airport and take them to their place. He’s going to stop in here for a couple of hours tomorrow, which will be really good. We’ll shoot the breeze and exchange really cheesy jokes and talk about all kinds of stuff. I’m looking forward to it!

Other than that, there’s not too much going on. Hopefully it stays that way – at least until my headache goes away.

Stay safe.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

J has today and tomorrow off work so we celebrated her birthday today. One of the things she wanted to do was go out to a particular restaurant for supper. We haven’t been to a restaurant together for a couple of years now, but with some thought and planning, it worked out:

Eating at a restaurant! :)Since it was a buffet we both ate far too much, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do when you’re celebrating a birthday – and it was very good, too!

Happy Birthday, J – thank you for being the most amazing person I’ve ever known and for everything you do every day. I am the luckiest guy in the world!

I’m so happy the restaurant thing worked out and we were able to do that again! Woohoo!!!

Stay safe.

Getting Used To Medication Time Change

Song: “Shingaling” by Tom Swoon

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 1

Ghosts: Pack

Sorry I haven’t been posting that much lately. I usually post in the evenings after J has gone to bed and I’m sitting by myself, thinking about the day. Lately, though, I’ve been enjoying how much better my brain has been working later in the evening, so I’ve been using my brain for a lot of things that it hasn’t been all that good at for the last three or four years. Not really an excuse, I know, but there’s just something I really enjoy about being able to accomplish things. I don’t take that for granted anymore.

The mornings aren’t really much slower than they were before I changed my evening medication time; they’re just slow for longer. It takes longer to get out of bed and I’m groggy for longer, but the grogginess is the kind where I probably shouldn’t do calculus and really shouldn’t drive, not the kind where I’m going to accidentally burn the house down or go outside without pants. I’m still me, just slow and not very smart. But the grogginess does clear up, and as Dr W and I (hopefully) make further reductions to my medications, I will spend less and less time in the morning rubbing my face and staring at my Cheerios, wondering if it’d be smarter to eat them with a toothpick or bamboo skewer than with a spoon.

I have been keeping quite busy during my days, too. I’m not a fan of the melt-freeze-melt-freeze weather we’ve had recently, so I blew the dust off the treadmill, lubricated the belt, and gave it a quick once-over before heaving my but onto it and lumbering along while watching a show. The TV isn’t right in front of the treadmill so I can’t watch it or I’ll eventually shuffle over to the left side of the treadmill and trip on the edge. So instead of the nice big LCD just off to the left, I watch stuff on my trusty phone.

I’ve also been puttering around a lot with electronics projects. Electronics has been a hobby of mine since I was around five years old, and I have a lot of training in the field, but I’ve always been kind of… hesitant? Reluctant? Nervous? …about trusting in the things that I know and doing stuff with them. Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds and hundreds of dollars of bags and boxes of parts and modules and kits that I’ve never used because I’ve been afraid to ruin them. Thanks to Dr C and Dr W, I recognize that that particular behaviour is due to my OCD and anxiety, and they have also given me tools and resources and exercises to help deal with that when it happens.

Therapy and medication and exercises aren’t the only things that’ve helped, though. An equal – or possibly even greater – amount of progress is due to the support and encouragement of my family and friends. J, in particular, has been steadfast in her support of the things I’ve been trying. Even when the dining room table is covered in breadboards and parts and wire and notes and an oscilloscope, she doesn’t yell or give me “the look”. She tells me she’s happy that I’m up and about and doing stuff, and then we either elbow enough stuff out of the way to eat at the table, or we go sit on the couch and eat there. No judgement, no complaints, and she’s always interested in what I’ve been doing. I wouldn’t be able to do a tenth of the stuff I do without her help and support.

Then there’s FA, who has done a huge amount for my self-confidence when it comes to anything technical or mechanical or building things. She didn’t set out to do that (at least, she claims she didn’t), but working on projects with her and figuring out electronics or debating the best way to solve a problem with her is really fun and has made me realize that even the oldest, dustiest knowledge or facts stuck in the bottom drawer of a really beat-up filing cabinet in that part of my brain where most of the lightbulbs have burned out can actually be useful. I don’t need to know everything about something to be able to contribute – even the foggiest recollection of something that may have been similar years ago can be used to look things up and come up with a plan… or to strike something off the list of possibilities.

Okay, I’m kind of getting off track here, but there are a lot of people who I thank daily (sometimes hourly or a couple of times a minute) for all of their help. I really hope they know who they are and that I wouldn’t be up and out of bed and doing things without them. Thank you so much!!

I’ve also been doing a lot of stuff with the printer. My nephews really liked the lithophanes I made for them some months ago, so I plan to make a few more to give them when they visit over the holidays. I’m also working on cases for the little ESP32 boards and I hope to get them figured out enough to give DA a couple to use as cameras for his cottage.

The SDR has been seeing a lot of use, too. Now that I can use it with an old phone, it’s really easy to set up and listen to what’s going on. If I want to crawl through the spectrum and find new signals to listen to I’ll use the computer, but for background sound or a quick check, the phone is really simple to use and works pretty well.

It’s going to take a long time if I go through every single thing I’m working on right now, so I think the best thing to say is that I’m keeping busy during the day. Dr C and Dr W have repeatedly emphasized how important it is to get out of bed, stay off the couch, and keep my brain and body occupied. I don’t have to be the best at anything… or even particularly good at anything. I just need to keep doing stuff, and the more I find it interesting or enjoyable, the better. I think I can comfortably say I’m doing that.

Otherwise, I had a CT scan yesterday, which will hopefully be the last chapter in my kidney saga that began in 2012. I had to be at the hospital for 8:15AM, so J took me (thank you!), which was good because I honestly can’t remember much of the whole thing other than tottering along after her in the hallways and that the person who did the scan was really nice.

In the six days since I changed my evening medication time, I’ve only fallen asleep on the couch once, and there were no signs of Zombie Mark having a 3AM snack. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I’m quite enjoying being able to do things later in the evening, and I’ve taken advantage of it.

Last night brought the first nightmare (life jackets) that I’ve had in a couple of weeks, and while it woke me up and I was scared, I was able to calm down and get back to sleep without having a panic attack or even having to go out into the light of the living room. Not ideal, but certainly better than gasping and shuddering on the floor of the basement bathroom for half an hour or more. Hopefully last night was just a one-off and they’ll stay away for a long time.

I also noticed yesterday that I haven’t felt “lungy” for a while – possibly even more than a week. I’m not sure why that is but I’m definitely not complaining. It would be nice if it never came back, but at the same time I’d like to know what caused it in the first place. Wait… did it go away when I changed my medication time? Hmm…

So… yeah. I’m keeping busy, things are going alright, and I’m getting used to having more of my evenings back.

Stay safe.

What A Difference…

Song: “Little Arrows” by Leapy Lee

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Quick post… BULLET POINTS!

  • No volunteering today.
  • Changing my medication to 30 minutes before I go to bed has made a huge difference in how my evenings go. It’s only been two nights, but so far I’ve been waaay sharper for waaay longer, and I can make much better use of the evening hours. No Zombie Mark, either.
  • I’ve always been kind of a night owl, but for the last three and a half years I haven’t really been too smart starting half an hour after I take my evening medications. But these last two nights, wow.
  • Nothing comes without a cost, though, and it’s taking me a while longer to get to sleep and I’m really groggy in the morning. Dr W and Dr C warned me about that, though, and considering that I’m moving my medication time to later in the evening, it makes sense.
  • Did a bunch of printing stuff today, some Raspberry Pi stuff, some electronics stuff, some writing, and played around with some programming.
  • No plans yet for the weekend but I have no shortage of things to do.

Stay safe.

Medication Time Change

Song: Theme From Commando (Commodore 64 game) by Rob Hubbard

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

Today was a pretty good day. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep on the couch, and I only remember waking up up three or four times to worry about the garage door being closed – none of which got me out of bed.

When J’s alarm sounded this morning, I was comfy and warm and it was very dark. The alarm kept playing its cheery little tune as I wished J would wake up and turn it off. Finally, I got a little irritated and said, “will you pleeease turn that off”.

She didn’t reply. I thought she was ignoring me or still asleep so I reached over to prod her shoulder and… nothing. That was odd. Then, I realized it was dark because my head was under the blankets (CPAP machines are great for that because they pipe in a supply of fresh air). Then, I realized it was my alarm, not hers.

Whoops. Well, J wasn’t there to see or hear me being dumb so no harm, no foul.

So I was running a little behind and J’s aunt texted me to make sure that I was okay with her coming over to visit before my appointment. I said sure but asked if she could come over at 12:30 instead of noon, which she had no problem with.

With that extra half hour I got myself together and had the board games out and the snacks ready when she arrived. We started talking and didn’t even touch the games – just gossiped and geeked out about our various ailments and medications and complained about the news. It was fun and relaxing and I had a great time… before I knew it we were heading off to my appointment. When I got back in the car after my appointment, she immediately asked when my next one was and put it in her calendar. It’s so good of her to help J and me out like that. I hope she knows we really appreciate it!

Things with Dr W went pretty well today. We talked about my medications and I mentioned the “Zombie Mark” thing and how I appear to be snacking at night. He knew immediately what I was talking about and said that it was not uncommon with the combination of medications I’m on. We discussed me taking my medications later and he thought that was a great idea. So now, instead of taking them two hours before I plan to go to sleep, I’m going to try for 30 minutes… so pretty much just before I start getting ready for bed.

Dr W mentioned that I might notice a couple of things – namely, it taking a while longer for me to fall asleep, and that I will probably be groggy for longer after I wake up in the morning. Both make sense, and both are manageable, but it was good that Dr W gave me a heads-up about it because I can see myself winding myself up because I’m not able to fall asleep like usual.

So everything should be fine as far as the medication is concerned, but Dr W reminded me that if I have any problems I can call him and/or switch back and we’ll work on it again at our next visist.

This evening things were pretty quiet. J and I hung out and kind of did our own things and chatted a bit here and there. The time got away on both of us again, though, so we didn’t get a chance to watch a show this evening.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr C and I plan to drive the truck. The last couple of times have worked pretty well so I’m hoping that tomorrow will be the same. The more times it goes well, the more likely the next time after will go well, too. But… it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, that’s alright and all part of the process. I also have to get more bloodwork done so if I manage to remember the paperwork and the driving goes well, I’m going to stop and get that done on the way home.

J is getting together tomorrow evening with DM, so I’ll be King of the House for a good part of the evening. Not sure what I’ll do, but it’ll probably be something epic, like reloading the dishwasher or half-dozing in front of the TV. Who knows?

Stay safe.

Lots Of Visiting!

Song: N/A

Mood: 8

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

I’ve been quite busy the last few days and have done a lot of visiting, too!

On Friday afternoon I went to volunteer for a bit at the church down the street. That went well and I had a good time and chatted with a couple of people while I was there.

Saturday and Sunday my mother-in-law was in town and came over. It was great to see her again and I really enjoyed hanging out with her and catching up on the latest gossip and stories. On Sunday, she, J, and I all worked on making some curtains which was also fun and very interesting, and I learned a lot about some new materials I’d never heard of before and how to properly measure and pin stuff. I was sad when she left (how many people say that about their mother-in-law?) but her visit was fun AND educational!

Today, FA came over and brought burritos and we had yet another great talk about all kinds of things, and did some big thinking about various ideas and projects. The last time I geeked out with someone about MOSFETs and constant-current drivers was around… well… never, actually. It was good fun and I was sad when she left, too.

I’ve been playing a lot with the printer lately. I went to change it back to a smaller nozzle and I stripped the wrench while trying to stop hot plastic from drooling everywhere. No, that’s not a typo – a soft brass nozzle dug out a nice circle in the wrench that came with the printer. Granted, it’s a really cheap stamped metal thing, but now I need to get another one. Fortunately, the wrench’s last heroic act was to tighten the nozzle juuuust enough.

This week I have appointments with Dr W and Dr C. I need to remember to ask Dr W if I can take my medications (or at least my zopiclone) closer to when I’m going to bed. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with it, but I want to make sure. If he gives it the okay then fingers crossed that it doesn’t cause me any problems with my sleep but fixes the “Zombie Mark” (as J calls it) problem.

J’s aunt is going to drive me to Dr W’s office again, which is so very nice of her. I invited her over and we’re going to play cards and eat snacks for a few hours until it’s time to leave for my appointment. I’m looking forward to it!

Stay safe.