Resting

Hello, dear readers! I’m a little late posting this today because I have been taking the last couple of days off from work – I got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to give myself time to recover. So far I’ve been mostly okay – tired, a little feverish here and there, and about 24 hours after getting the shot, the joints in that arm started hurting really bad. But Tylenol and sleep seems to be helping, and I’d much rather be dealing with the vaccine side-effects than the actual disease.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (more on that soon, hopefully), but things are good. I’ve been using this time off to catch up on some knitting. I finished a stuffed friend for my older nephew, and am slowly chipping away at a blanket for the younger one. (I’ve also been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately to get myself off my phone/computer screens, which has been fun.)

I’m going to keep this one brief – time for me to have some coffee and make some breakfast now that I’m finally up and moving about. Tomorrow I’m getting color added to my new tattoo, and I am very excited about that! (And very thankful I don’t feel worse post-vaccine, so it should actually be manageable.)

Scattered Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers. We have made it to Thursday. I am not feeling the greatest this morning, for what could be any number of reasons, but I’m here and I’m still strangely hopeful.

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility. I updated a many-years-old post I’d done on a previous TDoV on Facebook and reposed it there yesterday…I’m not on Facebook super often these days, but sometimes it still feels important to say things. Visibility can be exhausting, though. I’m fortunate to have enough mental and emotional bandwidth most days to be okay with being an educator, but every conversation about why they/them pronouns deserve respect (and are grammatically correct, though this should be much further down the priority list than it is) and why cis people should care about the issues faced by trans people takes its toll. There are a bunch of bills in various states right now trying to restrict trans-affirming healthcare for trans youth and to ban them from sports and it’s all incredibly frustrating. (For a great perspective on the healthcare issue, see this Twitter thread.) All that said, it was lovely to see so many of my fellow trans folks celebrating themselves yesterday. We deserve to be seen and celebrated just like everyone else does.

I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday! (This may be a factor in why I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.) This means I’m about six weeks from being able to hug some people I haven’t been able to hug in a very long time, and I am excited about that.

I feel like I had other things I was going to ramble about this morning, but I have a training to get to in the next couple of minutes, so I think we’ll end here for now. I hope you’re all hanging in there, and getting vaccinated, and still wearing your masks. Keep taking care of yourselves and each other, friends.

Scatterbrained

I don’t know what it is about this week, but I am feeling a little all over the place. I’m having a hard time focusing on anything for very long.

I don’t have a whole lot to write about this week, but I don’t want to skip blogging altogether. Let’s fall back on a good old list post, shall we? Here are a few things I’m grateful for and/or looking forward to right now:

  • I’m grateful for increased access to telehealth. I had some labs come back elevated this week, but rather than having to go back into the office in person and lose half my day in transit, I can talk to my doctor via Zoom on my lunch break.
  • I’m happy about the arrival of fall – I love the crispness in the air and the changing leaves. Looking out the window brings me a lot of joy these days.
  • I’m looking forward to the weekend – I have a handful of recurring (virtual) social things on the weekends and they do a lot to keep me grounded.

Short post this week, but that’s all I have the mental space for at the moment. Take care of yourselves and each other, wear your damn masks, and VOTE if you’re in the US!

Happy Moments

Hello, dear readers, and apologies for the late blog today – I overslept this morning and time got away from me.

First off, some good news – I got the results of last week’s MRI back yesterday, and everything looked normal. So that’s a relief. I still need to get labs done (I tried on Monday, but once again, my veins didn’t cooperate), but I’m taking my wins where I can get them.

The weekend was definitely a mixed bag – it was largely positive, but also included a migraine and a lot of worrying about what the MRI results might be. The highlights of the weekend were my two D&D games on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday, the Body Love Open Mic hosted by our friend Talia. My husband and I performed together for possibly the first time? Certainly the first time in a long time. And it went pretty well!

The second verse got kind of garbled on this Zoom recording, but you get the idea.

So that was fun. We were definitely nervous, but it felt good to try out a new song on an audience for the first time in a while.

I don’t have much beyond that this week – I hope you’re all hanging in there and taking care of yourselves and your communities. And if you’re in the US, I hope you’ve got a voting plan!

Ugh

Hello, dear readers, and my apologies for the late blog today. I intended to write a post last night, knowing that I probably wouldn’t get a chance to this morning unless I got up particularly early, and then I forgot. And then this morning didn’t really go as planned, either.

CONTENT WARNING: Medical stuff, including vague descriptions involving needles. Nothing graphic, but I won’t be offended if you’re not up for reading about this.

The original plan this morning was pretty straightforward: go get an MRI done, then go get labs drawn, then come home and enjoy the rest of my afternoon.

Some backstory here: about ten years ago I had some weird medical stuff come up, and one of the investigative steps taken at that time was an MRI of my brain. There was a very small spot of some sort that showed up on my pituitary gland, but a couple of subsequent MRIs revealed no changes to that spot, and the symptoms went away, and so I sort of tried to forget about all of that.

Fast forward to now, and I’m having some as-yet-unexplained symptoms that are mostly just annoying, but this whole situation that happened ten years ago came up in the course of talking things through with my doctor, and we decided it would probably be a good idea to have another MRI done, just to be safe (also, I don’t have a copy of the original MRI and it’s been long enough that the clinic where I got that done has probably purged the records, so we want to establish a new baseline). So, I took today off from work and scheduled the MRI for this morning.

Only…I didn’t wake up early enough to be very hydrated before I left the house, and that was a mistake. They were able to do the first part of the MRI (without contrast), but when they went to inject me with the contrast solution, my veins (which are hard to hit at the best of times) were super constricted, and every time they hit one it basically collapsed on itself when they tried to start the injection. So, after three attempts to find a workable vein, they sent me home to hydrate, and told me to come back later this afternoon.

It was discouraging, to say the least. I was struggling to stay calm when they first put me in the machine – I almost pressed the call button to ask them to let me out, because I didn’t know how I was going to make it the full 20+ minutes in that claustrophobic space. But I closed my eyes and breathed and counted and wiggled my toes (which were outside of the machine), and somehow got over the initial panic. Still, after that, I was REALLY hoping I could just get it all over with at once.

I’ve decided not to get the labs done today – I need to be hydrated for those, too, and at this point I don’t think I have time to sufficiently hydrate, get labs drawn, and go back for MRI part two (to say nothing of the fact that I’ve already been stuck enough times today). I drank some coffee, which I know was probably counter-productive on the vein front, but which was necessary for my own sanity, and now I’m focusing on drinking water and keeping my arms warm so that, hopefully, when I go back in a few hours, my veins will cooperate. I’m trying to find the bright spots – at least I took the whole day off from work, instead of just the morning like I was originally planning – but it’s just not how I want to be spending my day.

Anyway, all that to say that I’m glad it’s almost the weekend. We’ve just about made it through another week – go team! Please keep wearing your masks and washing your hands, and please vote. If you’re in IL, I highly recommend this voter guide.

Five Good Things

Hello, dear readers. I’m feeling stuck for something to write about this week, so I’m going to default to the five-item list of some happy things from the past week:

  1. The EMG last Thursday went well. I mean, it wasn’t fun, by any stretch of the imagination, but it did at least rule out pinched nerves as the cause of the chronic pain I’m dealing with, so that’s good. The rheumatologist recommended PT (which I still need to follow up on) and some supplements to try, as next steps. I’m not exactly hopeful, but at least we were able to rule something out.
  2. We bought a Harry Potter LEGO advent calendar last month, and it’s been so fun to open it each day and build a tiny thing. (Granted, we have forgotten about half the days, because we’ve not had an advent calendar in past years and also it’s the season where we come home and are tired and not thinking very clearly. But still.) We’ve had a handful of characters, some Christmas trees, a turkey (with legs that pop off so the minis can hold them…it’s adorable), and a few other random things. It’s a nice source of joy.
  3. We’ve made so much soup the past couple of weeks! Since we’ve been under the weather and it’s been cold, soup has seemed like the correct course of action. I’m getting to use the techniques we learned in the knife skills class we took last month, which is making my food prep way more efficient. This is the recipe we’ve liked best so far.
  4. We’re finally both getting over this awful cold. My partner’s a few days ahead of me in recovery, so I’m hopeful that by the weekend I’ll feel much better. I’m already much better than I was last weekend, so we’re moving in the right direction!
  5. I wasn’t sure what class to sign up for at the Old Town School for next session (songwriting filled up suuuuuper early and I missed my chance), but I finally made a decision and signed up last night – I’ll be taking a mountain dulcimer class! My partner’s aunt had given an old dulcimer to my partner’s dad a while back, and he’s not using it much, so he said I could borrow it. I’ll pick it up when we’re there for the holidays. I have felt kind of stuck, musically, and I think learning a new instrument is a great way to get unstuck. So I’m excited about that!

Baby Steps

A few weeks ago, I saw a new-to-me rheumatologist. The last time I’d been to a rheumatologist to try to pin down the nature of the chronic pain I deal with was about two years ago, and it did not go well – he essentially only listened to the parts of my story that supported the narrative he constructed as soon as he saw me, which was clearly that I only hurt because I’m fat. (To which my primary care doc later pointed out: “That might contribute, but then why do your elbows hurt?)

I finally worked up the courage to try again last month, and it went better than I expected it to. The rheumatologist listened to my concerns, and seems committed to helping me address them.

Today I am going back for an EMG – a nerve conduction study. I am nervous (pun kind of intended) about it, mostly because I don’t entirely know what to expect. I’m afraid to get my hopes up about anything conclusive coming out of this. But it’s farther than I’ve gotten before with this process. So…baby steps forward.

I’m also trying desperately to fight off the cold that kept my partner home from work earlier this week. I can feel it coming on. I feel like I’ve been dealing with low-grade yuck like this for months, but it feels like it’s getting worse again this week. Sigh.

I replaced my phone this week. I had still been using an iPhone SE, and the battery was not able to keep up anymore – I basically had to recharge at least once in the middle of the day, every day. So now I have a shiny new iPhone 11. The cameras are bonkers, they’re so much better than what I had before. And it’s purple, which is delightful.

Whoops

So it’s now 5pm on Thursday evening and I only just realized I never posted anything today.

In my defense, it’s been a bit of a week.

Tuesday night, I was supposed to play a gig that I was super excited for. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling under the weather, but determined to make it work.

It wasn’t meant to be, though. On my way to work I noticed on my Fitbit that my heart rate was high. As the day went on, it stayed up. The “active minutes” bar on my watch kept climbing as I was sitting at my desk. It was disconcerting.

When I got home, my partner double checked my heart rate, and the Fitbit wasn’t wrong. So I called off the gig, he called us a Lyft, and we headed to the emergency room.

Long story short, they sent me home about 4.5 hours later, after all the tests they ran came back normal. My heart rate went back down overnight, and it’s been normal the past two days. I worked from home the past two days, just to take it a little easier. I’m currently in the waiting room at my primary care doctor’s office for follow up.

It was definitely unsettling, and I’m still concerned that I don’t have any answers. Hopefully I can get some clarity from this doctor’s visit.

In happier news, Hamilton was fabulous on Friday! I’m so glad we got to go.

On Being a Burden

Yesterday was a rough news day here in the US, particularly for those of us who are trans, as we learned of 45’s intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military, ostensibly because our healthcare costs are too much of a burden.

First off, this is bullshit for a lot of reasons. 45 spends more on his trips to Mar-A-Lago than the military would spend on trans healthcare. The military spent ten times more on Viagra in 2014 than the high end of estimates of what healthcare for trans service members would cost. Estimating generously, trans healthcare would take up, at most 0.14% of the military’s healthcare budget. (Teen Vogue, who are delightfully leading the charge in the media revolution, aggregated some of this great info [which I also saw several other places] here.)

I’ll be honest: I think we spend entirely too much money on the military (or at least that we spend the money in the wrong way, when we focus on warmongering rather than caring for veterans in the aftermath of what we’ve put them through). But I’m afraid for the 10,000+ trans folks currently serving in the military. I’m afraid for trans veterans. And I’m afraid for trans folks in general, military aside. 

Because, here’s the thing: arguing that trans healthcare is too much of a burden for the bloated military budget to handle is only a short hop away from arguing that trans healthcare is too costly, period. As we watch Congress attempt to systematically dismantle the ACA and take healthcare away from millions of Americans, it’s not hard to imagine the GOP using this as a further selling point with their base. Because of the systemic oppression faced by trans people (particularly trans people of color), trans folks already often struggle to obtain and afford affirming healthcare. This is only going to make it harder. 

Trans people are not a burden. Treating us as human beings and affirming our identities is not a burden. But as I look at 45 and his fear- and hate-mongering, I find myself wishing that I could be a burden on his conscience. Sadly, to do that, he would need a conscience.

Adjusting

I am going to be honest: I really want to write something happy this week, but I’m really not feeling it.

I have dealt with chronic pain for years, but have never brought it up to a medical professional (or much of anyone, really) before, for a variety of reasons. I went to the doctor on Saturday (luckily, my insurance card finally made it to me on Friday) with the intention of changing this, because it’s been getting steadily worse, and is starting to affect my quality of life in ways I’m not okay with.

Long story short, I spent three days waiting to hear back about lab results, wrestling with the fact that I’m probably looking at either rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia – in other words, a thing with pretty straightforward treatment options that will probably be increasingly debilitating as time goes on, or a thing that is super nebulous and hard to treat that’s debilitating in different ways.

I finally got the call from the nurse on my way home from work yesterday – these initial lab results were nothing definitive, but they weren’t normal and indicated the possibility of RA, which means I now need to schedule some further tests with a rheumatologist. And whether it’s the weather this week or the fact that I’ve been actually acknowledging that pain is happening recently, I’ve been in more noticeable amounts of pain all week. So now I am grouchy, and anxious, and generally struggling to focus on much of anything else, even though I realize there’s nothing I can really do about it right now.

Hopefully next week I’ll have more of an action plan together and will be up for writing something more profound or happy or, at least, less “woe is me”. For now, though, I’m going to give myself time to adjust to the fact that pursuing a diagnosis for whatever-this-is might illuminate the best way to deal with it, but it also means it’s real, and this is a reality I’ve been ignoring for a while.