Balance

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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.

Momentum

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.

Another post

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.

Saturday: 100

Sunday: 109

Monday: 99!!!

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.

Easy Listening (aka My Favorite Podcasts)

dog-headphones

So I haven’t updated in forever, so here’s a quick list of what I’m listening to these days!

Podcasts! So many podcasts. My morning/evening commute, road trips, just about any time I’m in the car, I have my iPod plugged in and I’m listening to people either tell me a story or talk about things that interest me. Here’s a list of the ones I like best.
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Lions and Tigers and Jaguars, oh my!

THIRDS

So let me tell you a thing.

My friend Ricechex, knowing that I enjoyed (for the most part) the Cut & Run series, shamefully withheld VITAL information about a book series she thought I might like until this past week. Four days and six books later, I’ve forgiven her, but I feel I should spread the word about them.

I’m talking about the THIRDS series, by Charlie Cochet.

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Writing is easy, young man. Editing’s harder.

Editing

So I’ve reached the point in my writing life where I can be more critical and ruthless when it comes to editing, and I’m cutting entire scenes instead of just editing words here and there. This is a good thing!

However, I can’t help feeling the residual frustration over having to take them out. Some scenes have emotional beats! Some scenes are just sweet id-inspired moments! But they have to go.

I keep telling myself that the story has to move forward with every scene, especially when I had four chapters of buildup just to get my pairing to meet, and even then they haven’t “officially” met (this is Steve the Dog, after all). Some readers are already thinking ahead to when Steve is back to his body and he and Danny can work out their awkward feelings.  I’ve had to cut three scenes just to get it to two more chapters until Steve makes it back to his body and can try to work through how much he liked being part of that little family unit and how he feels about Danny before the exciting conclusion/denouement.

This is what happens when so many scenes in my NaNo were written during word sprints. UGH.

At least I can admit to myself that not all words/scenes are effective in the scope of the story, even if they were fun to write.  LOOK MA! I’M GROWING!

Update and Miscellaneous Musings

It’s been a while, and I accidentally deleted my working copy of my fic to edit at lunch (arrrrgh). Time for an update!

First things first, I started posting Steve the Dog to AO3!  You can find it here, with the working title of MWD. It’s gotten good feedback so far, and the HIGH praise of, “This premise is off the wall, but you’re writing it convincingly!” That made me puff up and preen a little, and hopefully the feedback will motivate me to finish the story. Four chapters have been posted so far. When that’s done, then I’ll start posting  ‘Once Around, Please’, my Westminster Dog Show Sterek AU.

Speaking of! I’m looking forward to Westminster this year, and will have to rely on the DVR to catch my usual Monday and Tuesday fare if I can resist the call of X-Files and The Flash. Last year I skipped the show, but this year I’m excited to see it again. For those who enjoy watching the agility competition, I’m pretty sure that starts on Saturday. There are seven new breeds in the AKC this year that can compete in conformation, including the big, beautiful Boerboel (South African Mastiff). I may still be partial to the toys, but have to admire the giants just for the sheer scale of them. May the best dog win!

I signed up to get a style box from Dia & Co, a plus-sized ‘personal shopper’ of sorts that sends out a selection of clothing based on a personal style survey that you fill out when you sign up. You keep whatever fits and ship back the rest, and shipping is free for both. I can’t wait to see what they pick out for me, and I hope I can afford what they send me! I’ll try to post pictures 🙂

Things have been shifting around here at work, both desk-wise and department-wise. The dust is still settling from it all, and some people are NOT happy, but I’m still in my cube, my job is still safe, and we’re in department meetings for most of the week as things shake out.

X-FILES IS BACK. OMG X-FILES IS BACK and it’s amazing and I’ve loved every episode so far and I can’t believe there are only two left. Last night’s episode broke my heart and turned my stomach in equal measure, but it’s great to see Mulder and Scully back. The fact that it’s a continuation of the series means they have eight years of canon to draw from and the writers have done it effortlessly. If you were a fan of the show back in the day, or have come to it via Netflix, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Despite the woeful under-utilization of A.D. Skinner, it’s been a fantastic ride so far.

On a more introspective note, I find myself making what I’ve started calling “transitory acquaintances”. At my old job, my commute was such that I didn’t see anyone between home and work. Here in Norfolk, I park in a big parking garage and walk a block and a half to the office.  There are friends I’ve made because we all take the parking lot elevator together, a gentleman I say hello to because we pass each other on the sidewalk nearly every day, and a few other people that I see during my walk to and from my parking space.

There was one woman I struck up a conversation with because she made me laugh on the elevator one day. I enjoyed seeing her and talking with her in the brief moments we shared in the elevator. I know she got a job closer to home and I wish her well, even though I never learned her name. Once I get a parking space in my office garage, I’m going to miss that contact, little bits of social interaction that make life interesting.

Lastly, my birthday is approaching (Feb 19), and I got an unexpected and early gift from my Aunt.

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Yay, crochet needles! Now I can learn more crochet and not lament the need for proper equipment. Yay, KonMari book! Everyone’s been raving about this in the organization/decorating circles, and I can’t wait to read and apply it to my wardrobe and my apartment.

I also took the day off on my birthday and booked a hair appointment; gonna get highlights with a few pink streaks amid the blonde! I can’t wait to see how it turns out 🙂

Hope everyone’s having a good week!