No, not collective, group, or much of anything.

This is a post written in haste.  Last night in the middle of the night, I felt myself coming back to myself.

I don’t know how else to describe it.  I just woke up and thought “Oh, I’m normal now” and then I turned in bed and went back to sleep.

This has happened before, usually after prolonged illness.  This time it surprised me, because I wasn’t aware I’d been off long.  Oh, sure, the short prednisone course.  It was good to feel my heart settling without racing, and my thoughts not feeling like a caged squirrel on meth.

Then I realized I’ve been slightly “off” since I collapsed in the shower, (in  December.  Go figure.)  Well, more than slightly, considering my oxygen was low enough I was getting incapacitating headaches, and that walking on the treadmill made me get asthma attacks, so I couldn’t breathe and thought I’d die.

The problem of having the sort of auto-immune that reacts to stress is that you have the sort of auto-immune that feeds on itself.  Once we entered the magnificent never-land of doctors and MRIs and such interesting stuff, my stress level climbed, and ramped up the auto-immune.

So, what are you doing, Sarah, other than taking Xanax?  Well, I’m not taking Xanax.  Seriously, when decongestants and artificial sweeteners can do bad things to my ability to write, the last thing you want me to do is take mood-altering drugs.  Kate Paulk writes with those, heaven knows how and more power to her.

I have a long term slow-release inhaler for the asthma, and at some point, when this book is in (Please, G-d, today) I will cast about for a pulmonologist as I’m apparently doing something called “hyperinflating” which might spell long term trouble.  And I have — casts eyes heavenward — bought yoga books.  I never wanted to do yoga, mostly because I was born in 1962, not 1952.  But I did it, almost incidentally (long story) the year after Robert was born and it not only helped physically, it seemed to serve as a de-stressor.  Also once the book is in (I hate being late and I’m VERY late and that adds to my stress)  I am going to establish a routine, because I like routines and they help with my stress.  NOT rigid routine, as such, but one of “I get up at this time” and “I work on this” and “then on this.”  I’m also going to establish fun stuff every day, even if it’s only one hour.  “Do something for yourself every day” — which will stop me snatching bits of reading around the edges and feeling guilty. The “hour a day for me” will to be fair probably be mostly a long walk, weather permitting, because that with an audio book is really good for my mood.

I’m also — heaven help me — going NO carb for a couple of weeks and seeing where that goes, because I can’t even stand to see myself in the mirror right now.  And I’m sure it does my body no good.  The long term inhaler has a tendency to make one gain weight anyway. (Yes, I know about having to have fat when you go no carb.)

That’s my plan for the future and to prevent this happening again.  I can’t control relatives dying, relatives in the hospital, the necessity to travel, or the kids worrying me.  (They’ll worry me their whole lives, but right now we’re trying to fire them off and that’s insane stress.  I mean they’re in the last year or two of their training — for younger son it depends on academic scheduling, which is crazy for three engineering degrees — and we’re trying to figure out what we need to do to have them be independent and on their own. In a really crappy jobs’ market too.) I can’t even control D’Artagnan cat chewing through his foot and the vet suspecting bone cancer (It’s not.  Idiot cat stepped on something and got an infection, and…)

What I can control is creating spaces of calm and destressing for me. I did this when the kids were little.  I called it “mini vacations”which were sometimes only fifteen minutes with a book and a cup of coffee.  I lost the knack in the last few tumultuous years, but I have to re-learn it.

And meanwhile, I’ve come back to myself.  It always fascinates me that we don’t know how far off our normal we are, till we achieve normal again and go “Oh.  I remember that.”

My thyroid treatment seems to be stable, I’m done with prednisone, and I have a long-term treatment for asthma.  Yeah, I also have a cold, so I might not be quite normal-normal, but I’ll take the end of racing heart (Pred) hot flashes that were like a preview of hell (pred), constant brain fog for years (thyroid) and headaches that made me feel I was dying (asthma) as a good thing.

Sorry.  I always thought older people talking about their health was tedious, and here I am doing it on my blog.  BUT I have a relationship with you guys and with other people who have legitimate reason to expect things from me, like blog posts, books, er… mailing the long overdue subscription stuff (I swear.) Finishing other books, like Rogue Magic and Witch’s Daughter and the mysteries.  And I think you have a right to know I’m taking steps to become as close to myself as I can and keep myself there.  The world being unaccountable, I’m not PROMISING to stay well, just that I’ve realized how difficult this is (like piloting a boat in high winds) and I’m taking steps to try to be as good as I can about it now.

So I’m going to pop some vitamin c and finish the book now, and then I’m going to sit down and establish a schedule.  I’ve already decided I’ll send Larry a chapter of Guardian a day, because I don’t want to get too far ahead, before he goes “Oh, Sarah, you got x and y and z wrong.”  That is the morning.  In the afternoon I’ll probably do indie stuff and my websites and things.

Somewhere there there must be time for a walk with husband.  And I’d REALLY like to take a day a week off, in which I’m not cleaning house.  In fact, I’m starting to believe I shouldn’t clean house at all, since dust is very bad for me.  BUT that will wait delivering some of these books to Baen, and getting a cleaning lady.  (Has to.)  Until then, I’ll just take an extra destressing day, or at least an afternoon.

Anyway, the good news is I’m not attempting to die anymore.  I’m not even slightly off.  Sure, I have a cold, but that’s not important.  I’m myself again. Which means I should be able to work, at least for a while.  And if I can hack how this works, maybe I can get in a pattern where I can work most of the time.

Sure, it would be good to have a body that’s not trying to kill me, but you can’t have everything.  Where would you put it?  Who would dust it? (As my friend Becky used to say.)

And now I go work, still startled at the sudden “oh, now I’m myself again” feeling.  I don’t know who I was before, but tired and very ill is part of the answer.

I’m back.  And I want to stay here.


199 thoughts on “Identity

  1. We want you to stay, too. And finish more books and short stories and go to conventions and coffee shops and icecream socials or whatever it takes.

    1. We all want you to stay. Now that Spring Equinox has come; can you not take daily walks? That has been my lifelong remedy to stress (along with an enormous number of food supplements that may or not be doing me good, but certainly insure I have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies). Still doesn’t help with Spring pollen allergies, but I’ve learned that the benefits of a walk outweigh the penalties of the California Spring pollens. Amazing what our trees can produce.

      Blessings and hugs.

      1. We’re having schizophrenic weather: Spring/winter/spring/winter/spring. BUT on the good days, like today, I shall extract the studying medical student from the basement or/and my husband from his office and take them on brisk walks.

      2. In my household we have found some* help with pollen allergies by regular dosage of quercetin:

        As with all such dietary supplements, performance may vary and the only guarantee is that it will cost you money.

        *Beloved Spouse finds it beneficial, I am convinced God or the Devil doesn’t want me to breathe.

        1. So far, local honey has helped a measurable amount. Note that if it ain’t from local bees getting pollen from actual trees, flowers, and everybloody thing else that dumps pollen over all the things, it doesn’t help.

          I do have family that uses quercetin and claims it is of good use as well. I may try that at this year’s LibertyCon, which has those mutant pollen monsters that always get me, as LC isn’t local.

          1. I lived in east Tennessee for two years. Sure there is pollen.

            The absolutely worst place for me so far has been the central Piedmont of NC, where the northern and southern growing zones intersect. One of the first things I learned about the county I now live in is that we have a (non botanical) park in which there are more different kinds of flowering trees than are found in all of Europe. We are presently entering ‘green’ season. When it is really bad even black cars turn green overnight.

            1. Oh my yes. I worked there for a couple of years as a college student (spring break was a time to make *money*). Worst pollen allergy attack I’d ever had, it nearly put me down for a week. I worked out of the equipment shed drugged up to my eyeballs. Nobody came near, seeing as I was shop welding with the AO rig. Last I heard all my sets were holding good, so at least there’s that. *chuckle*

              Still, though. East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia (the humidity and the heat are bad enough) gets some yellow days, but middle of the NC piedmont is a special kind of torture.

          2. Fascinatingly, Tennessee was GOOD for my wife’s breathing. When we crossed the border back to Kentucky on a trip several years ago, she said her head closed up like a mine cave-in.

          3. I have yet to find a place that doesn’t have pollen which stuffs me up; not even the desert southwest.

            1. Hrm. At its worst, I *did* consider a job in the far South. Antarctica is supposed to be rather bare of pollen, I hear.

              I think the only thing that stopped me at the time was being around other people. Constant human contact is tough. Small doses of even groups is tolerable. Stuck in tiny boxes with the same people for hours upon hours? Ungood, that.

  2. Sounds a bit like the last time I had the full-blown ‘flu, and the fever broke in the night. I woke up drenched in sweat but suddenly knowing that “yeah, it gets better!” and went back to sleep.

    Best wishes with getting some kind of pattern set. I just had the next week and a half turned topsy-turvy. Driving down state to give a conference paper will be a vacation, provided I survive that long without running out of the school screaming and hurling imprecations at the gods of scheduling.

    I notice that the “as needed” very mild anti-anxiety thing I take on occasion tends to dampen my writing of… fights and battles. Apparently I need the adrenaline and stress-reaction to really write that sort of thing well. And I can still revise, polish, and do light edits, and write non-fiction.

    1. Yes. It’s basically the same feeling. I didn’t even realize how worried I was about hell-hot-flashes and the impression I was losing my mind, till it passed. And I could breathe.

  3. Welcome back

    (In a sense that quickly becomes highly metaphorical once you start thinking about the topic of the post, the nature of internet communities, etc. I should probably take my Ritalin.)

  4. So good to hear that things are normalizing. Remember, if you don’t have your health you have nothing.

    1. May I suggest, from experience, if you have something to believe in, a sense of humor and a couple of good friends you have what you need to deal with most of whatever the world throws at you, including ill-health.

      Mind you, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the best care you can of your health. Good health is a treasure most people do not recognize the value of until they experience its loss.

  5. That’s a pretty ambitious schedule for somebody who claims she’s not attempting to die any more!

    I’d rather read half what you expect yourself to write coming from a relatively sane and healthy Sarah than read half what you expect yourself to write coming from a guilty, stressed, sick Sarah. (Note that I get the same amount of reading material in either case.)

        1. Obnoxious boring troll that switches identities, posts to very many sites, and has been known to stalk people for decades. Banned here and at MGC. Someone got documentation together and spoke to his local police about his habits. (His jurisdiction had laws against either cyberstalking or cyberharassment.)

          1. Last I heard, which would be about 18-24 months ago, he’s banned from the Internet by court order. He was supposed to have limited Internet access, and promptly went and stalked and threatened the people he’d been ordered to leave alone, so he is now forbidden to be on the ‘Net. Not certain if that is still in effect or if he’s been granted limited ‘Net again.

                  1. The first restriction was through his guardians. He isn’t very mobile. That said, they may not be very technically adept and aware of what he gets up to.

                  2. Presumably the court relies on complaints from people who are aware of the order and frequent the sites he usually stalks. Given his past habits, that doesn’t sound very difficult.

                    1. I’ve invited him more than once to stalk me instead of his chosen target, because I’d love something for my good cause statement. Alas, he has not chosen me.

            1. He’s at Cameltoe Flappygum’s site as “Yamamanama”, his most common screen name.

  6. As it is the duty of friends & family (especially the latter) to tell a body when you’ve gone off, so it is the pleasure of friends & family to be told when you’ve returned to self. So glad to learn you’ve returned to Sarah V.3 — we none of us want you working yourself to death for our amusement; half-to-death is quite sufficient.

  7. A thing called “progressive relaxation” helped me a lot (don’t worry, it isn’t the political kind of progressive 😀 ) No special gear required, and once you get used to it, sort of training your brain, you can do it sitting in a chair in just a minute or so. Helped get me to a place where I didn’t need prednisone!

          1. 😀 Yeah, progressive muscle relaxation is based on “stress is caused by not being able to strangle idiots” and other things our monkey instincts do to gum up our brains. Training the muscles to let go is quite effective at reassuring the hind-brain that there are no actual sabre-toothed tigers to worry about.

            1. Yoga is Swedish calisthenics exercise gone YMCA gone Indian nationalist made-up stories. Basically, it would be like me announcing that hummus is a secret medieval leprechaun health food.

          2. That sort of thing is why I prefer the “clinical” approach to the so-called “organic” approach. I suspect $SISTAUR is if not the opposite, not exactly at the same point… or even on the same axis. NOTE: NOT “Axis.” While at times I find some of her political views a bit silly, she ain’t stupid. Or as I’ve put it for myself, “Just because I (might be) crazy, doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”

            Old joke time: Feller is on his way to Big Event (interview, whatever) and has a tire blow out. Worse, right by the nuthouse. He changes the tire and just as he’s about to finish up turns and accidentally kicks ALL the lugnuts down the storm drain. When he’s done cussing, Napolean (or whoever) in the crowd watching offers, “Hey Mister. You got three other wheels. Take a nut from each one and you can be on your way.” “Say, that’s good thinking. Do you really belong in there?” “Mister, we’re crazy, not stupid.”

          3. I have this problem with a lot of the therapies my Lady wife undertakes, and I have come to the conclusion that if it helps your head heal you, then I don’t need to know how it works and don’t care if it theoretically shouldn’t. I think a lot of ‘alternative medicine’ is utter hogwash, objectively speaking. The medical equivalent of click-bait. BUT, it can get your mind working for you instead of against you, and that is gold.

            What we really know about how the mind (as opposed to the brain) works can be inscribed on the head of a pin. With a cold chisel. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely a shill for some form of science-as-religion. There are some aspects of the ‘alternative’ movement I wish would go away. The anti-vaccine bunch are endangering people other than their children on the word on someone who, it developed, was trying to create a market for an alternative vaccine he owned a part of. And I’d like to see somebody look into the relationship between the popularity of ‘traditional Chinese medicine” (in the ‘powdered rhinoceros horn sense) and whether the PRC actually provides mainstream healthcare that us worth a damn. But n general, I try to be open minded, or at least silent.

            So when my Lady announces that she is going to try a hyperbaric chamber, I keep my yap shut. And it works, in the sense that when she uses it, she has more energy and feels better. It may have not one goddamned thing to do with the chamber (we ended up buying one), but if you think i’m going to try to get my Lady to believe that, when she’s happy, you are screwed in the head.

            If it helps to wear your hat on backwards, it helps to wear your hat on backwards.

            1. “My doctor diagnosed me with a bad case of hypochondria, but he put me on these great pills for it. I think they’re called placebos.”

              (The amusing thing is that that is probably the best a not-too-bad approach.)

                1. I once read a great little short story about that. “But the gingko enhances the drug it is paired with. It wasn’t paired with anything! How did it work?” “It amplified the placebo effect.”

              1. I’ve never been comfortable with the whole “placebo” thing.

                That means my doctor, who is my paid expert, is lying to me. And fraudulently billing me and/or my insurance while not providing the service I’m paying for.

                If one tried pulling that on me, he’d be very likely to get an educational view of the healthcare system from the patient perspective.

                There’s also the issue of, if you open the door for fraud to doctors, what about lawyers? Professional Engineers? Accountants? Why should the law hold them to standards that MDs get a pass on?

                1. It doesn’t necessarily need to be doctors and medicine. Several times I got drunk on non-alcoholic beer. It was a joke. I didn’t know it was non-alcoholic and everyone else was drinking regular beer. I got just as tipsy and boisterous as everyone else. Very weird when I was told.

                  1. You’re not alone.

                    There have been plenty of “blind tests” where part of a group is given non-alcoholic drinks but are told that they’re drinking alcoholic drinks.

                    A good number of the people drinking the non-alcoholic drinks start acting drunk after a while.

                    1. Probably wouldn’t work on me unless they adjusted the taste. I am *very* sensitive to the taste of alcohol (and largely dislike it.) There are only a few alcoholic drinks I’ll cope with.

                    2. Well, you likely wouldn’t accept the non-alcoholic drink if you thought it was alcoholic so of course it won’t work. 😉

                    3. Oh, I’ve tried a lot of alcoholic drinks, mainly because I *do* have a good sense of taste and always look to see if I can notice what people are pointing out. But I was thinking of the parties where, for example, there is both alcoholic and non-alcoholic sangria, and they weren’t labeled yet. I can tell the difference.

                2. You pay doctors and take pills to feel better. What does it matter that the pills are sugar if they work?

                  1. It’s not the efficacy, it’s the cost.

                    And the prospect that the doctor may have missed something serious, by not treating one’s condition seriously.

            2. I understand that during the cultural revolution the PRC experienced with injecting people with chicken blood.

            3. “I have come to the conclusion that if it helps your head heal you, then I don’t need to know how it works and don’t care if it theoretically shouldn’t.”

              Your head’s the main control mechanism for your body, but it’s in the middle of a feedback loop. What it tells the various parts of your body to do eventually comes back to it. You can program it to do just about anything it’s capable of doing, or reprogram it (with a lot more effort) to modify your capabilities.

              Everyone starts out with basically the same operating system at conception. But since none of us develop or grow in the exact same environment, we each end up with a different operating system than the others; all 9 billion of us. If you can teach someone with a Linux 16 brainware to do something that’s inconceivable to someone with a Windows 98 brainware; then more power to you.

              Must have been that article on the MindGamers movie that triggered me thinking along those lines today.

              1. I presume your finger faltered and transposed billion as million.

                The flipping finger falters and, having faltered, flips off …

                1. You know, maybe Sarah’s on to something. What if there really are only six or seven million humans on the planet and we only think there are 6 to 9 billion? Uh oh. Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Borg? Werealiens?

                  Now there’s an interesting concept. I wonder what I can do with a were alien story? Don’t recall seeing any; although we have had plenty of stories of shapeshifting aliens, just not as weres.

                  1. My tinfoil hat is NOT that strong. I just think there aren’t more than six billion, and there is a good chance there’s only three or four. Because, here’s the important questions, other than governmental agencies collecting the data, how would you KNOW? And how much do you trust governmental agencies in third world countries?

                    1. I’d trust a third world country or NGO that gets aid based on number of clients about as far as I can toss an Abrams tank.

                    2. Yep. And that’s why I have been saying for years that the “population crisis” isn’t. And I rather doubt there’s over six billion of us. IF there’s that many.

                    3. Doesn’t it rather depend on how we define “people”? For example, I gather that a judge in India has now ruled* that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers are persons, entitled to legal protections attendant to such status.

                      No idea of the rivers get to vote.

                      *insert “has the ganges been declared a person” in searchengine of preference.

                  2. The only actual humans left are the population of Tennessee. Which is why most human rights activists are entirely full of shit.

            4. Lots of stuff which seems to work, but nobody really knows why it seems to work (those placebos among them, and lots of the nuttier stuff that seems to work probably works due to the same effect) and then some nut with no training in science make up all kinds of weird hypotheses of why it works which make the whole thing sound so nutty nobody sensible cares to try anymore. Also those who believe in current science as religion – we know everything worth knowing, and if it can’t be explained by what we know now it can’t be real – like to attack said type of stuff which further discredits it.

              But some of it seems to work. Which is good enough for me. Even if it is just the placebo effect. Which actually seems to be proven well enough by now, even if there are no good explanations as to why it can work.

                1. Saltwater inhalation treatments work for CF patients (one described it to me as “sucking seawater through your nose”), and salt *is* a necessary thing for your body, so a saline inhaler could work through more than just the power of suggestion.

          4. I remind myself regularly that yoga is just Indian for “stretches and muscle building using body weight.” Not much different from Charles Atlas…. although after thinking about the old ninety-pound weakling ad, I usually end up humming or singing Rocky Horror’s “In just seven days, I can make you a ma-a-a-an.”

            Which is a bad thing to do to a poor brain when you’re trying to fend off cats and accomplish a yoga pose, but I never claimed to have a tight hold on my brain’s tendency to tangent. Just persistence at body-weight-assisted-exercises. *cough*yoga*cough*

          5. I have a friend with MS who does yoga and tai chi to work on keeping her flexibility and balance. She can’t do fast paced or high impact exercise. The water resistance program she used to attend no longer exists. While she is not particularly attracted by the philosophy, she does like the fact they are both gentle and work for her purpose.

            1. I once got into a fight with a tai chi practitioner. It took him an hour and a half to beat me up.

        1. Ooh, I learned that technique in my high school psychology class. It never occurred to me, though, that after practicing for a while, it would be possible to just run your mental focus through your muscle groups and relax them as your internal viewpoint goes by.

    1. I have found that useful also. That and every time I stand up I stretch and do ten seconds of dynamic tension of every muscle I can control. Cumulatively that adds up to a lot of relaxing exercises.

      There was actually a course in relaxation in my undergraduate years at Iowa.

    1. Bad breath is the usual first sign of ketosis. But if she’s only doing “no-carb” for a month or so, she should be able to avert the ketoacidosis level. And if she only goes back to the vegetable carbs, she may be able to avoid her carb-related issues. (I had to do low-carb for gestational diabetes. It’s hard, but it does work.)

      1. Huh. I haven’t found low carb all that difficult. It’s seriously weird for me to realize I’ve not eaten and I am somehow not hungry. The problem I have is that once carb-ing again, it seems to feel good and is addictive even though I actually am not feeling that well overall.

      2. Just have Mr. Dan give her a kiss every two hours.
        It’s a great way to monitor breath conditions,
        and it’s a lot of fun.
        (Good stress reliever too.)

      1. Yes, I know, it’s just that I don’t seem to process carbs well. I’m not even near diabetic, but even sweet corn can set off autoimmune issues. We’re still trying to figure out the mechanism.

        1. A sort-of relative (brother-in-law’s sister) has multiple food allergies, including to wheat gluten. She ate a bunch of corn products instead, and developed a sensitivity (allergic, I guess) to corn.

          1. I sympathize. My food allergies are of the “pick through the things I *can* eat” type. And a lot of “I’m really going to regret this tomorrow.”

            Last time an allergist ran a patch rest on me, they wound up calling an ambulance…

            1. Momma often lived on an eating what would do the least harm basis. It was a shorter list of what caused her no problems than what would kill her. When it came to her Death by Chocolate was not a joke.

        2. Logging/journaling your diet and time outdoors vs. how your feel/symptoms each day would be worthwhile. You’ll have solid data instead of relying on your memory; “if I eat food X, the next day that specific symptom is likely to come back.”

            1. Pesticides or herbicides? Apparently roundup allergy is a thing. (#2 gets a tummy ache from commercial bread products, like pizza and doughnuts, not home made. I use organic whole wheat flour at home.)
              If it’s humanly possible to be allergic to something, someone will be.

  8. I have not been myself for a while– maybe since 2003. I realized a few days ago that I feel better when I write. Oh– well– isn’t that fortunate 😀

    1. Also do Tai Chi. Harder than it looks if you do it right. Good stress releaving, mindful. Stretching before and after helps a bunch, too.

  9. Glad you’re feeling normal. 😀

    Wish I felt normal. I’m on my fourth round of antibiotics since the beginning of the year, and not feeling well.

    I’ve told them at work to cut me down to 4 days a week, see if that helps me to recover, and not break down further.

  10. It’s nice to get back to normal! When we were getting ready to move into this house, I was over here doing stuff in the yard (didn’t have the house keys yet), and suddenly realized, Hey, I actually feel *good*!! I hadn’t felt that good since I was a kid! Unfortunately it was only the one day, but it gave me hope!

    1. For me, it’s point after the kid turns one or so—another reason I’m done with having kids. Being wiped out for two years at a time is really hard.

  11. There is a home school kid who in need of spending money and too young to get a job, started a cleaning business here. She charges about half of what grown-ups charge. (While state law says you can get a job at fourteen, every employer’s insurance policy says sixteen.)

    Might be worth asking any home schoolers you know locally if there’s one of those around.

    1. We just hired the neighbor’s kid (mid-20s) and his friend for some heavy-duty yard work. Not cheap—I was asking them to chainsaw and move half-rotten 24″ log sections, plus associated cleanup and brush pile chipping—but much cheaper than the quote I’d gotten from professionals. (About 60%.) Plus my neighbor is a contractor, so I knew their quote was going to be higher, which was fine by me. I believe in fair payment. It never hurts to have some heavy labor folk on tap too.

      1. As with anything involving potential removal of limbs, standard caveats regarding negotiation of liability before engagement are advised.

                  1. If you scroll up the page you will find two places where it notes how many comments have been made, just after the title and just before the comments. At this moment there are 151 comments.

        1. Several years ago, I had a neighbor (licensed contractor) build a garage for us with two helper/carpenters. A bit later, I needed insulation in the roof of my barn and my sense of survival was rebelling at the thought of working on 3 flights of scaffolding-staging. (And then, I’d need a ladder for the peak.)

          I ended up hiring $CONTRACTOR’S two workers, but worked a deal where they were covered under his workman’s comp insurance. Cost a bit more, but not horribly so. (Project was long enough ago that I no longer have hard numbers.)

        2. Very true. Liability is important. On the other hand, I swear these guys did a better job than the professionals, and now we know where to rent a really nice wood chipper for cheap. (It’s attached to its own trailer. Simple hookup and go.)

    2. Home school kids are often very good about bartering for educational opportunities. Cash and Creative Writing* instruction might well get you further than either alone.

      *Creative Writing = creating money out of writing.

  12. That’s good to hear. I think we might’ve sensed something a bit off. I’m sure we make allowances. Take care and have fun.

  13. OT (or is it?): A neighbor who a few years ago said he was dying… his body was found today. No signs of flailing or such, evidently he just… stopped.

    It’s very good to hear you are still moving.

    1. I’ve known a few older people who said something like “I’m about done now” and then shuffled off this mortal coil a few weeks later.

      On some of my bad days, I suspect I know how they feel.

      1. Paramedic truism: If they’re hollering that they’re dying, they’re gonna be just fine. If they look at you very calmly, and say, “I’m dying.” …Break out the paddles, and all the extreme measures, because you’re gonna need ’em shortly.

        My husband found this out when he greeted the paramedics with “I’m very sorry to bother you, but I think I might be having a heart attack.” This is recognized as Start The Nitro NOW, and call the ER! level statement… and it wasn’t wrong.

        1. Yup. At certain age (generally its the age thing), all the whooping and hollering is just need for attention. The quiet word is scary as all heck.

        2. This probably explains the ambulance ride I got as a high school freshman after getting knocked off my bike. The ultimate result was whiplash+assorted muscle strain and a piece of glass in my leg, but the fact that I was pretty calm may have alarmed them a bit more than the injuries warranted.

          Side note: A friend of mine took a CPR class from an EMT. He described a throat sweep thus: “And this is how you check for the steak.” “Steak?” *darkly* “It’s always steak.”

          1. 17-year street medic here…

            No, it’s not always steak. In fact, if it is steak, consider yourself fortunate.

            And no, I’m not going to go into further detail. There’s a reason you can’t gross out a paramedic.

            1. This. No, it’s not always steak. Once it was a piece of soft peppermint candy. I was about to do the sweep, but when I placed my left forearm across the front and lifted to do a back slap with my other hand, it performed a Heimlich.

              1. While I am curious, I am also not stupid enough to ask. And that was posted after a rather large meal for me and the idea of (my) reverse peristalsis was even more unappealing than usual.

                If I ever do ask, it will be after/during an extended fast. Which I suspect will then be extended further.

            2. When I was working at summer camp, one of my coworkers was studying to be an EMT. He once left the book open on the table on the page on how to remove a fishhook from an eyeball.

          2. I was very calm in the emergency room when we were there for me. The Surgeon apparently took this to indicate that I did not understanding the seriousness of my situation. He told me he was trying to save my life. I told him I understood, and, ‘Thank you, I would like that.’ After a quick piercing glace at me he proceeded to do just that.

            1. Seems to happen with other things too. I know of a couple gals who drop the F-bomb and similar enough it might have given “Bombs Away” LeMay pause. When they cease cussing and get very cold, very precise… seek shelter – and not behind me! I’ll be ducking and covering, at the very least.

      2. On the other hand, when it’s time to go that doesn’t sound like a bad way for it to happen. Just stopping. Not something like an extended hospital stay with lots of false hope intervals while never getting there again for real.

        As long as the stopping doesn’t happen when you are driving and in the middle of heavy traffic or similar.

        But let’s hope it only happens when you are getting close to your first century mark while being mostly hale and hearty up till then (unless somebody cracks the aging code before that and we get where human life can in counted in centuries or longer instead of mere scores of years like now, even if it has improved from the biblical three score and ten a bit).

        (Yes I have been reading some quite a bit older stuff lately, why do you ask?)

        1. Fellow was 54 years old, and while a bit taller than I am, weighed at least double what I do (and I weigh more than I should – working on that). He also “smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish.” The few times I was in his house I had to take a shower and do laundry upon my returning home to get the smoke smell off of me and out of clothing. I knew he drank, but not the extent. It was not the occasional drink or two, but evidently about a quart of the hard stuff each day. It was fairly clear this was coming, but the details of when were unknown. It kept not happening. Until it did.

          1. Yes, sounds like it. On the other hand both of my aunts did that “smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish” thing and lived past 80. Neither was overweight, though, in spite of not paying much attention to their diets either. Good genes in some ways, I guess. That was my whole family on father’s side. Unfortunately I seem to take more after mother’s, though, with their weight issues and rather shorter lifespans. I don’t drink (much) or smoke (at all) which will perhaps give me a bit longer than she had (she didn’t drink much either, but did smoke most of her adult life). Remains to be seen. Hers was a slow deterioration for over a decade (heart disease) which I’d rather not go through, especially the last five years of it.

  14. Dunno if this is available in your area: a Polish lady comes every two weeks to my mom’s house, cleans the whole house, and does the laundry, for $100. (Every other visit, she cleans the refrigerator for an extra $20.)

    That’s not cheap, but ISTM that the extra work time, reduced stress, and reduced health issues could be worth it for you.

    It seems a lot like you are operating very close to the edge of your personal resources; when one overloads, one breaks down badly, and then things get even worse, and the stress of worrying about such failures in service adds load.

    Buying yourself some margin could be a very good investment.

    1. that would be ridiculously cheap. When I’ve had to have cleaners before (because very ill) it was something like 250 and no laundry. And that was … 21 years ago. Colorado seems to be bad. Unless you hire illegals, which for various reasons I won’t do.
      I will just have to write a lot and lay in a fund of money.

      1. Cost of living maybe. Around here, currently, depending on size of house and size of mess, you can get the work done for around 75 or so, extra for big stuff. Yardwork goes pretty cheap, too, and some folks will drop and chunk a tree if they get to keep the wood, too, as my folks found out. Black walnut makes some nice shelving and furniture.

        1. Should have mentioned this last night – a good black walnut tree may be worth several thousand dollars to the one who takes it – so having it out may be a matter of selling it, rather than paying someone to cut it.

        1. Or just crib from the master, Daniel Boone Davis, and build a Hired Girl.

          Y’know, when I searchengined for that book’s narrator’s name, I was not expecting this.

  15. I’d almost suggest an assistant to handle things like running to the post office but that would be like volunteering and I don’t do that anymore. I am, however, willing to help if you need extra hands every now and then.

  16. Re taking a day off per week … I’m convinced there was a Very Good Reason the big man decreed this back in antiquity … I’ve been doing this for several years, and began when our family was in the midst of a severe medical crisis and I thought I would have to die (and I wasn’t even the patient!). Anyway, I highly recommend it. Do whatever you feel like doing; don’t do what you don’t feel like doing, plan your week around it (no sneaking in make-up work!). It’s not just lying on the sofa all day, although that would be perfectly fine, too … and of course, if the cat gurps, I do clean it up promptly … Anyway, HE recommended it, so it’s got to be good, right?

    1. I’m a big fan myself. On Saturdays I do nothing work related. I usually do a project in the morning, lunch, then a nap. After the nap I usually read for the rest of the day.

    2. Right if the omnipotent, omnipresent being that created everything thinks a day off after 6 on is a good thing perhaps we mere mortals had best follow along :-).

      1. Plus, if you believe the Bible is true (as I do) then He’s the one who designed us — which means that taking a day off per week is the manufacturer’s instructions. Neglecting to follow the manual tends to lead to absurdly expensive maintenance later on, who knew?


        1. Yeah, well, at the beginning things were absurdly simple, there was but one rule and one rule alone. Don’t eat the fruit of one tree in the garden full of other fruit bearing trees. It is not like they would starve if they didn’t eat from that tree. So you would think that with only one rule, and a simple one at that, people could have obeyed. But nooooooo.

    3. When I was working 7/12’s I noticed a sharp decline in my effectiveness after two or three weeks, which could be cured by simply taking half a day off.

  17. Glad that you are back, Beautiful (but Evil) Space Princess.

    And yes, sadly, Judge Posner is still a moron.

    1. Prednisone helps with a lot of things, but nothing fixes stupid…particularly at Judge Posner’s level of stupid.

      1. It was meant more as a ‘You may have suspected that your perception of him as a moron was a side effect of the health issues you were having but no, now that you are back to normal (such as it is), you can see that he really *is* a moron’ sort of statement.

  18. Welcome Back!
    I have had that experience of waking up and realizing, I’m well, I feel like me again.
    But at age 80 I’m beginning to be afraid my tiredness, my runny eyes, my back, my knees all those ills are here to stay and this is the new me. I would love to wake up and be me again.
    I’m so happy for you that you still can be you.

  19. Congratulations on getting rid of the prednisone! Snapping back to normal after a course of that is a wonderful feeling.

  20. I know EXACTLY what you mean: three days ago, my brain came back from side-effect land from all the cardiac drug crap, and I was suddenly myself for a few hours a day.

    And then last night another drug got me – sent me to the ER with stratospheric BP (the LAST drug I was on) – and I was so determined, I still managed to write a few words today. Got new drug, hope it avoids the side effect, and hope the husband survives these unwanted midnight trips.

    But it felt SO good to be ME again – it hadn’t really happened since Nov. 1 for more than a day a week, some weeks. You can’t WRITE that way.

  21. Sarah’s back!

    Wait, crap. This means I need to hide The Beer. Does anyone know how to get scorch marks out of concrete? Asking for a friend.

    1. Depends on the remnant material. Good ol’ fashioned carbonized matter? Baking soda will do the trick. Left some sticky guts behind? Hair spray and a stiff brush. Orbital sander works, or wire wheel if you don’t mind a smooth spot on rough concrete. Repolish if it’s glazed.

      “Scorch marks” adds character to the bunker, though, so might be okay to leave those… Just not the ones in the feeding pen.

  22. I’m not even slightly off.
    so far off, coming at it from the other side? Maybe,
    But then, that’s the norm here’bout these parts.

    1. kind or sort of, except I seem to be one of those people where pred works like insulin, and stores away precious calories. So I’ll shed a pound or two and keep the other ten. Which is how I got over 200 and to unimaginable girth…

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