And Onto The Weekend

Song: “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

The biggest news from here is that I was outside yesterday… in shorts! Yes, it was finally warm enough to go out and enjoy some fresh air in comfort. The snow is melting pretty quickly, and I can finally see some lawn, too! Sure, it’s all brown and dead but it’s still lawn!

J is working from home for the near future now, too. I’m very glad about that for a couple of reasons: one, her co-workers are the kind of people who pick up on every ridiculous rumour and conspiracy and feed on each others’ ideas and try to rope other people into that same kind of thinking, while not washing their hands and standing in each others’ cubicles to talk about said rumours and conspiracies. Two, I’d prefer it if J wasn’t around a bunch of people who don’t wash their hands, don’t wipe stuff down, and don’t think any of the current directives actually apply to them because they’re the smartest people they know. And three (and this is the best one) – things are so much better with J around. Even though she’s in her office and is actually working a full day, it’s just great that she’s home!

There are lots of stories about medical professionals and facilities running out of particular kinds of protective equipment like masks, gowns, that sort of thing. Quite a few groups have popped up that aim to match people or businesses who can help produce some of this equipment with places that really need it. I’ve printed up a face shield design and with a few tweaks I think I’ll be able to easily print them and they’ll be pretty sturdy. I don’t know what the need around here is yet (fortunately we haven’t been hit too hard by COVID-19 yet) but I think I’ll do up a dozen or so of them and if they’re needed I’ll give them away and start in on a new batch.

J and I finally watched Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home over the last couple of days. Both were excellent, and I finally don’t have to worry about running into spoilers about either of them anymore. I’m a big fan of the Marvel movies and I hope that they somehow manage to keep the momentum going even after the big changes of Endgame.

I just took a look at the thermometer and it looks like it’s going to be another nice day out… might have to spend some time outside!

Stay safe.

Pretty Quiet Here

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 1

Ghosts: Pack

Things have been pretty quiet here. I’ve been keeping busy with lots of different projects and tasks, and for the most part I’ve been able to concentrate on the stuff I’m doing.

It’s been gorgeous outside the last few days and the snow is melting which is great, but with the change in temperatures the house is making all kinds of weird sounds again like it does every spring and fall so that’s been a little more noticeable.

Had a single nightmare two nights in a row (tent), and I’ve had a lot of just plain strange dreams, too. Like changing the oil in my motorcycle and when I remove the drain plug, fresh clear water comes out, and pouring in more oil just made more water come out. Or going for a walk with J and watching cat-sized squirrels chasing each other up in the trees. Those are okay, though – I’d rather have a thousand dreams that leave me wondering what the hell I ate earlier than waking up from a single nightmare.

With all the stuff going on in the news, I’ve been a lot more careful/picky about what sites I visit and what I read. You can only do so much, though, because there are reminders everywhere. Traffic on the main roads in town is less than half of what it usually is, businesses are closed or have limited their hours, and despite the fact our civilization is intact and still functioning, people are STILL panic buying and clearing out entire sections of stores. I’ve even been limiting the amount of time and which hours I play STO because the chat in it is all about what’s going on.

Despite all that, I’m still not waving my arms and winding myself up into a tizzy. Maybe it’s because I’m a lot more isolated from the real world than most people are (although that seems to be the proper thing to do nowadays), or maybe it’s because things here really aren’t that bad – most of the stuff going on here right now is about preparation and trying to keep things from getting bad. Maybe I’m actually able to look at it now without trying to find every inconsistency or thinking up the worst possible outcome, then thinking up something even worse. Could be something else entirely, too.

I haven’t been great about maintaining my sleep diary lately. I need to get back on track with that – it provides a lot of useful information that has already been useful.

Tomorrow I plan to do a few things: print some stuff up, design some other stuff, do some electronics, do some tidying, and if it’s nice out, go for a walk. We’ll see what happens.

Stay safe.

Doing Appointments Over The Phone This Week

Song: “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

J is working from home today, which is very nice. Her eyebrows are a lot more knotted and she’s sighing a lot more than normal, but I suppose that’s what happens with work…

FA didn’t make it over yesterday but that’s okay – with some of the stuff going on I didn’t get as far in some of the projects that I’d hoped.

I spoke with my sister and my folks over the last couple of days. They’re all doing well and are eager to get back out and do some wandering.

I had three appointments this week: a Dr W appointment on Wednesday, a massage appointment Thursday, and a Dr C appointment on Friday. I called Dr W’s office the other day and found out that he just got back from a travelling holiday and is now quarantined. He’s not sick or anything, it’s just the standard precaution nowadays. He called yesterday and we spoke briefly – he’s going to call this afternoon at my usual appointment time and we’re going to the appointment over the phone.

Same thing with Dr C – I called her on Monday and it turns out her office is trying to do what they can over the phone. They’re in the process of setting up some kind of video link, too, but I’m perfectly happy with a phone call. That way I don’t need to put on pants or comb my hair.

Both Dr C and Dr W emphasized strongly that if I’m having trouble that I can call them and get in for help, which I appreciate. I’m doing pretty well right now, but if things change it’s good to know there’s still an option.

I was going to go to my massage appointment tomorrow (my back and knee are bugging me) but changed my mind this morning so I called and cancelled it. Once things are figured out I’ll go back.

Got a call from the liver specialist that Dr H referred me to… he asked where I was at and how I was feeling. I told him that I’m feeling fine and he said that he recommended that I wait until things have calmed down before I go into the hospital for a non-essential visit. I agreed wholeheartedly and he’s going to call back in a while – anywhere from a couple of weeks to some months, depending on what happens. He also told me that if things change at all, go to Dr H or one of the Urgent Care facilities, which makes sense.

So yeah… lots of changing plans this week. I’ve been avoiding a lot of the news (there’s nothing new and helpful there anyway), and keeping my mind and fingers busy at home. I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on, and now that I fixed the printer, I’m going to start in on that again too.

With all the stuff going on, it’s normal to feel upset, anxious, angry, scared, or even experience emotions or combinations of emotions that you’re not familiar with. If you are having trouble dealing with the world, please remember that there are people who care about you and want you to feel better. Talk to someone – don’t grind your teeth to stumps or lie there in the dark with your stomach churning, heart pounding, and every muscle tense. Talk to a therapist or counsellor, your doctor, or call your local/regional crisis line or go to your closest emergency room. There is some information on the resources[https://www.samplesizezero.com/category/resources/] page that may be useful. Even if you’re feeling fine, keep in touch with your family and friends and keep an eye out for each other!

Stay safe.

Much Better Sleep

Song: “Skipper Dan” by Weird Al Yankovic

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

It was easy to get to sleep last night and I slept pretty well. No nightmares and I only remember waking up maybe three times to worry about things, none of which kept me awake for very long.

I got quite a bit done today. Had a small but interesting chat about religion with my aunt over text, got a lot done on one of my electronics projects, and two packages showed up today.

I’ve been finding that with the right combination of mood, sleep, music, comfort, and interest, I am getting quite a bit better at concentrating on things. There’s a positive reinforcement cycle that happens, where I’m concentrating on something so I’m not worrying about things, which lowers my anxiety and lets me concentrate better for longer. I think part of it is that things are moving in the right direction, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of it is practice.

It doesn’t really matter why, though – I’m just happy that I can work on something for more than five or ten minutes before switching to something else or taking a break. I feel a much better sense of accomplishment when I can see that I’ve done or made progress in something. That improves my mood, which makes it easier to concentrate, which lets me accomplish more things, which improves my mood. Positive reinforcement everywhere!

The stuff that Dr H called about yesterday was on my mind today, too. I’m not so much worried about how it affects things today as I’m tired of all the doctor appointments and probes and scans and tests. It’s also got me a bit worried about what the future is going to be like. I’m in my mid-forties now, and, if I’m being frank about it, the things that normally happen when one ages are going to start happening, but I have the added “bonus” of going into that with things already wrong.

I probably shouldn’t worry about that, though, because Dr H is on top of things and we’ve already fixed some stuff. No reason this won’t be fixed soon, either.

Next week is going to be a little busy – I have appointments on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Nothing scheduled for the rest of this week, though, but I may volunteer at the church sometime in the next few days. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I hope to print some stuff up, get some more work done on electronics projects, and start sorting the chaos in the workshop. I’d also like to listen to some records. It’s been a while.

Stay safe.

Didn’t Sleep Well

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Short post today, I’m beat.

Yesterday was a pretty great day. FA was over for close to 11 hours, which may very well be our biggest geek-out session of all time. We got all kinds of stuff done and talked about pretty much everything. We also got out to the hardware store, had a delightful burrito lunch, and after J got home the three of us had a great chat, too!

Dr H called yesterday morning about the ultrasound I had on Monday. When I saw the clinic’s number on the display I felt a pang of worry, but it was okay. Long story short, I’m not dying but I am going to get to meet yet another specialist – this time a liver specialist. Dr H also wanted me to get more blood tests done and for me to come in again soon to talk about this stuff, which I’m perfectly happy to do. The sooner it’s fixed and over with, the happier I’ll be.

I had a lot of trouble falling asleep last night. I tried everything – muscle relaxation, breathing, getting up and going back to bed – but it was after 5AM when I finally fell asleep. As a result, I didn’t really accomplish anything today (although I did stare at stuff a lot), and I spent a lot of the day in a fog.

When J got home, she took me to the shiny new lab near home to get those blood tests that Dr H wanted done. I think I’m going to make a giant copy of a blank test requisition form and put it on the wall and play blood test bingo. Some of them are going to be tougher to get (like BHCG), but who knows…

This evening has been pretty quiet. I kind of half zonked out on the couch for a while after supper and then J and I spent some time chatting. Hopefully tonight I will be able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

No appointments tomorrow, so I hope to work on some electronic-y project stuff. We’ll see what happens.

Stay safe.

Kind Of A Weird Day

Song: “Country Gardens” by Percy Grainger

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

I think I slept reasonably well last night. I definitely remember worrying about the gate but I don’t think I was up for very long about it. No nightmares, either.

I ended up going to the church down the street to volunteer for a little while today but I was late because as I was getting ready I was thinking about the ultrasound I had scheduled for the afternoon. That made me think of all the other tests and all the other things going on, and before I knew what was happening I had a panic attack. As far as panic attacks go, this one wasn’t too long, and about half an hour later I’d stopped gasping and the screaming going on in every cell in my body had quieted down. I hate panic attacks. I hate, hate, HATE them.

I usually have a “gaaah, what’s next?” approach to getting tested and prodded and probed, so I was surprised that things bothered me today. Maybe there’s a limit to the number of x-rays and blood draws I can tolerate. Maybe there’s a part of me that’s really upset that I still don’t have any superpowers despite all the scans and medications. I don’t know, but I now know it’s something I need to be more mindful about in the future.

Panic attacks take a lot out of me, both mentally and physically. I walked to the church today, and at the end of the six-minute walk I was winded. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not in the best shape, but little walks like that have never been a problem for me. When I’m panicking I tend to breathe in little sips instead of regular breaths, so maybe I was still doing that? I don’t know, but it was weird and later in the afternoon when J and I were wandering around the hospital looking for the ultrasound place, I was fine.

Volunteering at the church went pretty well but I was only there for about 45 minutes before J arrived to pick me up and take me to my appointment. The appointment went pretty well, too, although the staff at the desk all looked very tired and more than a bit cranky. I took it as a good sign that the imaging specialist doing the test asked me to flip over to scan my other side instead of looking at the screen and saying, “Hoo-boy… no point wasting time” and then sending me away. After she left the room and I was wiping the goop off me with one of those astonishingly thin yet abrasive cotton towels that the hospitals around here have (brought back some memories of my stay), I stole a glance at the screen of the ultrasound machine.

Now, I’m no doctor, but I’ve watched a lot of shows and done no small amount of reading about medicine and various conditions. If I’m watching one of those true medicine shows where they talk about symptoms, I usually have the disease (and sometimes the treatment) figured out before the big reveal at the end. I also pay attention to the little organ models or charts that the doctors use to indicate what’s going on and where. Now, I’m well aware that patients are not supposed to diagnose themselves, but I am comfortable saying the following things about what I saw on that ultrasound machine screen:

  • It’s not lupus, and
  • My kidneys kind of look kind of like chubby fetuses.

Anyway, when J and I were on our way out of the hospital, we took a quick detour to check out what’s happened with the psych ward since I was last there. It’s pretty sad, actually – it was closed a while ago and seeing it unused with a single light on and no nurses or patients walking around and no sound made me a little… I don’t know if sad is the right word. It didn’t feel right. Even seeing it under construction would’ve been better. It shouldn’t be left sitting and collecting dust. All of the decorations and a bunch of the signs were gone aside from the usual hospital boilerplate stuff and a single hand-made sign with a pink background that had the word “Enjoy” in a swirly script. I remember that sign.

Since I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink up to that point, we also stopped at the pharmacy and I got a drink and some peanuts. I still don’t get hungry but I start to feel all shaky and weird when I need food.

After we got home, J and I talked a lot about our days and how things were going. There’s still some of the evening left but I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

FA is coming over tomorrow, which will be a hoot. We may be able to knock one or two projects off of our lists – we’ll see what happens!

Stay safe.

Visiting And A Good Day

Song: N/A

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

Today was another good day. It started out a little stressful because J’s aunt was coming over to visit and I always get anxious before anyone visits, but even though it’s a little unpleasant I know to expect it now (the nerves, not J’s aunt).

She arrived a little after 2PM and the three of us hung out, talked, and had snacks until around 5PM. I had a very good time and enjoyed the conversation. We talked about all kinds of stuff: family, politics, museums, news… all kinds of stuff.

After she left J and I had supper and then we listened to music while she read and I went through my project bins to sort things and throw out junk. Got it down to two bins from three and a little one, so that’s progress!

My Dr C appointment on Wednesday went pretty well. We are still working on fixing up my sleep schedule and (hopefully) getting me ready in the event that Dr W and I do more nighttime medication reductions, but we also talked quite a bit about current events and how much they’re bothering me. Things are good in that regard now, but I have to pay attention to how I’m thinking about things so I don’t start to obsess over it. Dr C says I am pretty good at knowing when things are going wrong, so hopefully I’ll stay on top of things.

My back is pretty much always sore, so a couple of years ago, J finally convinced me to make an appointment with the massage therapist she sees. I’m not a particular fan of people (particularly strangers) touching me, but I was surprised to find that the therapist was very understanding of that and that it ended up helping. I found I was reasonably comfortable with her and decided to go back. My luck being what it is, though, she ended up leaving for a different physio shop in a different part of the city. Recently, though, my back has been really bugging me again, so after a bit of conversation, J convinced me to give her new RMT a try.

So, after my Dr C appointment, I headed over to the physio place. The new massage therapist is much different than the previous one and she does things differently but it worked out pretty well. She talks a lot more (and about all kinds of stuff) and I found it a little distracting to begin with but now that I’ve thought about it some more, I wonder if it’s her way of getting people to relax. At any rate, I think it helped so I’m going to go back and give it another try soon.

I’m going backwards through the week, but my Dr H appointment this week went pretty well, too. None of the specialists I’ve seen have found anything that could cause the unsettling feeling in my chest; the pulmonologist suggested it’s a “functional” issue, which means that there’s nothing physically wrong but for some reason I (or my brain) am interpreting some signals incorrectly. I don’t feel like that’s what’s happening, but hey – if it turns out it’s a software problem instead of something actually wrong with my lungs or heart or whatever, I’m fine with that and will accept it. If, however, the doctors missed something and I suddenly drop dead in the middle of the grocery store one day, they are going to feel soooooo silly…

Dr H was talking about my test results as she was reading through them and mentioned how they were coming back as better or “significantly” better than average. I waved at my flab and said, “Yes, I’m a prime physical specimen.” She found that quite amusing and laughed while the printer spat out a requisition form with enough boxes checked that the lab took seven vials of blood from me when I went for blood tests an hour later. My personal record is 13 (11 of the little ones and two of the big ones), although I’m not sure that’s something to brag about. Anyway…

I also heard from the church people today so I may be going over there sometime next week to volunteer for an hour or so. It’s been a while since I was there last and it will be good to talk to the folks there again.

Nothing too fancy going on this weekend, although I am running an event in STO on Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that before so it’ll be an interesting experience. Monday I have an appointment to get an ultrasound of my liver – along with the bloodwork, Dr H is putting me through all kinds of tests to figure out why some of my liver numbers are slightly elevated. I do really appreciate her taking that stuff seriously and being proactive about it. I’m very lucky to have a lot of competent and caring professionals on my side.

Stay safe.

Early Day Tomorrow

Song: “Winchester Cathedral” by The New Vaudeville Band

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

Things are going pretty well. J has this week off and it is so nice to be able to talk to her and hang out during the day! We don’t even have to be talking or working on the same thing – just being in the same room as her or knowing she’s in the house makes me happy.

I’ve been working on a thermometer for J’s aunt. I got the electronics working properly and I designed and printed up a little box for it. Just need to stuff everything in there and it’ll be good to go. I hope to give it to her on Friday – she’s coming over to visit that afternoon.

FA came by on Saturday and we did some troubleshooting on some electronics. J was home, too, so the three of us also hung out and had burritos for lunch.

No volunteering at the church lately. Might happen later this week but I’m not sure.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr H at… 8AM. Blugh. I’m mainly going to get some paperwork filled out for the elbow surgery I’m getting in a couple of months, but I’m hoping to ask her a couple of questions about other things, too.

Thursday I have a Dr C appointment, and Friday is when J’s aunt is coming over. Busy week!

Stay safe.

Getting A Lot Accomplished

Song: “Red River Rock” by the Silicon Teens

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Things have been going pretty well lately. I’ve been keeping myself very busy, which has been paying off both in how I’m feeling and in how productive I’ve been, which itself helps my mood. I’m making a lot of progress on quite a few projects, and have even checked some off my list!

Still have quite a few to do, though, and I’m adding more to the list pretty steadily. That’s actually a good thing, though, because an idle Mark is not a happy Mark. Plus, a lot of the things I’ve been doing are for other people, which makes me quite happy. The project I’m working on right now is a thermometer for J’s aunt. This is my third time taking a run at it, and now I’ve done it three different ways but I think I’m happy with the way it turned out this time.

My sister got those coin things I made today and she said they were exactly what she wanted so that worked out well, too. From a design, preparation, and printing time perspective, that was by far the biggest project I’ve ever done with the 3D printer. I’m really happy with that machine – 14 months now and it’s still working really well. I’ve replaced a few parts, but they were all (mostly) on my schedule so it hasn’t been dead while I’ve been waiting for parts or time to figure out what’s broken.

When I was young, my family used to pack into the car and drive for a couple of hours to visit my great-grandmother at her farm, and then later at the home she moved into. On our way home in the evening, we’d always stop at another house and visit with a couple. I remember she always had a box of rosebud candy for my sister and me, and they were always very friendly. I’m still not 100% sure how my parents came to know them, but they were good friends of the family, the woman in particular (he ran off with their neighbour at some point and died about a dozen years ago). Anyway, Mom has been in touch with her and she’s not doing so well. I wanted to make contact with her and say hello so I tried to write her a letter but six pages of nothing in I was getting bogged down and frustrated.

So I gave her a call. It was kind of surreal – I think the last time I spoke with her was over 25 years ago and a lot has happened to both of us, but we talked for a good half-hour about all kinds of stuff. She was very happy to hear from me and I was very happy to talk to her again. She asked at least three times when we were coming out to visit. Turns out she’s living in the same place that my great-grandmother lived in. I hope that my parents and J and I can get together and make the trip out there soon; if that doesn’t work out, perhaps J and I can get out to visit. Lots of memories out in that area, the last time I made it out that was was… I think 2009 when I took a day trip on my motorcycle to find and visit my great-grandmother’s grave. I’m going to make a point of calling her regularly to say hi.

We had some really nice days here lately. Just the other day it got up above freezing. I went out to check the mail and I could feel the sun on my skin – I know in six months that’s going to be the last thing I want, but right now it felt good and it’s a sure sign that spring is getting close!

This Friday J and I are going to do the second part of that OCD study. Hopefully it won’t be another long haul like the last one was, but just in case we’re going to bring along something to drink and a snack of some kind.

On Saturday, FA and I are going to have another geekfest and work on some stuff. I’m looking forward to it – we’ve put a lot of thought and time into the current project and it’s rewarding to see each bit of progress we make.

I may be volunteering at the church sometime later this week, too, but I’m not sure how or if it will work out yet.

Stay safe.