Well, it’s been a heck of a year so far, with the biggest developments this month!
So I’m back in college part-time in hopes of getting either a Career Studies Certificate or a full-on Associates Degree. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been at college while also working (previous college was on-campus residence with jobs in the summertime). While I’m only taking two classes at the moment, the one class is from 7:15 – 10pm Mondays and Wednesdays, which leaves me an hour or so to come home, make and eat dinner, and pet the cat for a bit before heading out to class.
This semester is going to be an exercise in balance between work, school, home life and social life. With my new schedule, the only day that I don’t have a commitment during the week (work, school, or social) is Tuesday. Monday and Wednesday I have class, Thursday I have Stitch & Bitch with my knitting group, and Friday is Friday Night Writes with my writing group.
This isn’t going to be good for my introverted little brain. Though both my social commitments are fun, they require social energy that I may not have after dealing with work and classes and homework. Also, I don’t like leaving my kitty alone for so long. Doing it on Thursday and Friday is one thing; having it be ALL WEEK is way too much alone time for my little diva.
So I may be dialing back the social commitments for a while and maybe have people visit at my home or meet one or two for dinner here and there for the semester. Smaller, planned things that are less frequent or in my own “territory” will be better for me mentally than pushing myself past my social limit.
Balance. We’ll see how it goes.
That seems to be the word of December for me.
I’m using the momentum from NaNoWriMo to look back on my 2014 novel. I’m editing now and hope to start posting the first chapters in the new year.
The momentum of my diet and exercise changes that I began in November has really started to show, both on my glucometer and the way my clothes fit. I’ve stepped up the exercise and see the doctor on Monday for a check-in. I hope that my A1C (to be checked in February) will also show the results of my efforts.
There have been some shake-ups at work, and I’m planning to take steps towards assuring either my value to my current employer or my marketability in case I need to look elsewhere.
Lastly, I start my college classes in less than a month. I’ve ordered my textbooks and look forward to returning to school and remembering what I started during my ASL classes back in the Philly area 🙂
As atrocious as 2016 has been, and as rough as it’s going to be with the current political climate, I hope that 2017 is going to be a better year.
Jesus, it has to be.
Two good things about these diagnoses and meds happening just before Thanksgiving week is that I could start taking all the new meds one at a time and I had a four day weekend to gauge if there are any intolerable or dangerous side effects. I didn’t have to drive anywhere, didn’t have to even leave the house if I didn’t want to. It was also kind of a blessing in disguise that I didn’t go back to Philly for my usual Thanksgiving festivities with my cousin and his wife. Facing her Thanksgiving spread with a diabetes diagnosis would have been TORTURE.
“Can I have half a slice of turkey and a green bean please?”
“One scoop of green beans?”
“No, just one green bean.”
Now after seeing the doctor two weeks prior, she’d asked me to start limiting my diet: cut out the refined sugars, high fat foods/dairy, more whole foods to basically start working on my cholesterol (LDL was borderline high). Once I saw my A1C levels on my bloodwork and realized that I’d been tootling along for the past three months at an average of 200+ blood sugars (!!! under 100 is ideal), I took the next step of starting to limit my carbs and definitely up my exercise level to at least thirty minutes a day. I got some nice walking sneakers to help as well. I’d try to take two twenty-minute walks after each meal; thankfully the weather has been nice enough that these walks are hardly a hardship, and I found a route that circled me back home rather nicely.
Another thing that helped was the return of my energy! The vitamin D deficiency had seriously depleted me to the point where I had to come home from work and take a NAP just to get through the three hours before bedtime. I hadn’t really given it much thought other than, “Wow, this is weird but I guess it’s my life now,” but when the doc said that the vitamin deficiency (as well as the hypothyroid) might be causing my fatigue, she prescribed megadoses of vitamin D supplements to take twice a week. Within two weeks, my energy returned! I didn’t want to nap so much anymore, so I had the energy to come home and cook dinner for myself. I didn’t want to nap in the evenings, so I was sleeping a lot better at night and it was easier to take my walks after dinner and not feel exhausted.
Yet more things that helped were the advent of technology when it came to health tracking! I found an app that will log my blood pressure, an app that will help track my meds and remind me when to take them, and an app that tracks my blood glucose!
With the diabetes diagnosis, of course, came the need to track my blood sugar. My doc wanted me to only check it once a day in the morning, to see what my fasting level is before I start my day. If I had my way, I’d be checking it way more often, but at least this gave me a baseline. I got a fancy schmancy glucometer that connects to an app via Bluetooth, so it transfers my results directly to my phone. The first time sticking myself to test my blood was a little nerve-wracking, but thankfully easy to handle after that first stick.
So, after two weeks of limiting my carbs (I’m not as focused on the fats/sodium/cholesterol for the moment, but am conscious of my choices), increasing my exercise and taking my meds, I started testing my fasting glucose in the morning when I take my Synthroid. Keep in mind that a month ago my fasting glucose was 195.
Seeing these results that show me that everything I’m doing to get and stay healthy is paying off was super, super gratifying. My feet, eyes, and kidneys are all very pleased with me. If I can get and keep my glucose levels down and under control, my A1C will come WAY down when I get it tested in 3 months. If my A1C comes down far enough, there’s a chance I can cut back on the Metformin. I still have to call my doc and ask if they want me to go up to two pills a day, seeing that my fasting BG is trending this way. I may have to have a bedtime snack to keep my sugars from crashing overnight.
Incidentally, I’ve lost some weight. I had to tighten my Fitbit another notch around my wrist. I don’t see so much of my belly when I wear my dresses. Right now it’s not a concern or a focus at all. What matters are the habits I’m developing to keep me healthier and hopefully eliminate the need for some of these medications.
So that’s where I am health wise. I’m officially on all of my meds on schedule. The side effects have been thankfully minimal. I’m working on getting to see an endocrinologist to hopefully be diagnosed with Hashimotos (thyroid antibodies are SUPER high while everything else seems normal) and keep working on the diabetes.
People have told me that they admire my attitude through all of this, how I’ve immediately adapted to the changes I’ve had to make. The thing is, this has been the story of my life. When adversity hits, I don’t have a choice to do anything else. I have to deal with it, and I do to the best of my ability. In the case of diabetes, if I want to keep my feet and eyes and kidneys, I have no choice but to make these changes and stick with them.
Once I get a handle on these changes and stick with them until they become second nature, then I can allow myself a few indulgences here and there. I’m lucky in the fact that I don’t ordinarily crave sweets, and I’ve stepped away from the salty snacks I usually crave because they haven’t agreed with me as I’ve gotten older. I’ll miss pasta for a while, and pizza, and some of the desserts I love to make, but they won’t be gone forever. They’ll just be treats, enjoyed here and there without gorging myself.
These are things I’ve said before when I’ve tried to do Weight Watchers. Making these changes to adjust the size of my body was not good for me. Making these changes to keep my feet and eyes and kidneys is crucial. The size of my body is irrelevant.
I have a lot to unpack about that last sentence, but that’s another blog post for another time.
As NaNo wraps up for the year…
This last quarter of the year has been a rough one. I stressed through a lot of October about the election, needing an idea for NaNo, and health issues that I needed to address. Thankfully, towards the end of the month, I got an idea for NaNo (thanks, Londa!) and I finally saw a doctor and started addressing my health concerns.
I went into November fired up about my NaNo idea and started writing, keeping to par for the first week like a BOSS.
Then election night happened. My follow-up appointment with the doctor about my bloodwork was that night, I’d come down with a cold, and when they took my blood pressure the nurse was VERY concerned. I wrote about my adventures in medical panic that eventually landed me in the ER in another post that I haven’t posted yet, but I got on blood pressure meds after that and thankfully that’s been steady and the side effects have been minimal.
But my creativity stalled for a WEEK thanks to the election and my health concerns, and my word count suffered until I was almost 7K behind where I should be. I started writing again, but it was half-hearted; I was trying to push through so when I got to the overnight writing event that our local NaNo group hosts, I would be ready to close that gap to something manageable. I was getting there too!
And then came the diagnoses (yes, plural): Type 2 Diabetes. Hypothyroid (possible Hashimoto’s Disease). Hypertension, Vitamin D deficiency. All like a ton of bricks, and I went from being on no medications at all to taking five different drugs to manage these conditions, all of which could potentially have ALARMING side effects. More on this in another post.
So my health has been on my mind a LOT over the course of this month. That, plus the disaster that was our election took over my brain for a while and squashed my creativity, replacing it with this dull fear and despair of what will become of our country, which until now had made some real strides towards equality for everyone and not just white people. I did get some of my energy back to plug away at words here and there, but until the overnight event I just didn’t have it in me. I’d lost track of my story and was having trouble finding my way back to it, but I managed to write almost six thousand words of pre-history and flashbacks and lots of sex and lasted until three a.m. before heading home and feeling more accomplished. I still wasn’t quite back on track, and I watched as my word count gap widened again over the next week and I just didn’t have the energy to do more than focus on my new diet and exercise plan. A couple hundred words here, a hundred words there, and it just hadn’t been happening. The gap widened from four thousand to six, then to eight.
And then yesterday, when I had all day to write and a goal of 6K words, by six o’clock that night I had 500 to show for it. The scenes just weren’t coming. Again the despair crept in. So many of my favorite celebrities died this year. This garbage fire of an election. All of my health diagnoses and new medication schedule. THIS YEAR NEEDS A HIGH POINT.
And I already ordered my “Winners” shirt.
I put out the call to my friends, all of whom know what I’m writing and most of whom know the fandom. All I need is a little nudge to get me going, and my peeps know just how to either ask the right questions or suggest the right scenarios, and BAM. 2K words before I finally went to bed.
So this is where I’m at. Health balanced for the moment. Three days to go. Ten thousand words to write. At least three scenes in the queue and ready to go.
I can do this.
So I’m at the Panera Friday Night Write-in (what I call Friday Night Writes), and I’ve been thinking about this blog post all day. Of course I have it in Scrivener, because words are words are words in NaNoWriMo 🙂
Every year I do this, I seem to learn something new about my creative process and growth. Once all of the stresses that had previously overtaken my creative energy were gone, I’ve really gotten in touch with my creativity and the way I approach my writing.
You guys, I am SO STOKED. Thanks so much to my friend Londa who plot-stormed with me and gave me that spark I needed to fan into a flame of inspiration. I’ve already set the story up in Scrivener and am working on an outline that expands with every person I tell about said idea.
It’s gonna be H50 fanfic, a shifter AU (because shifters are my JAM), and this is the first out of the other ideas I’ve thought about that I can see reaching 50K words. Here’s the basic premise: