Monday, December 07, 2020

2020 - the year that was...

When this year began, I was looking down the barrel of unemployment. At the time I was working out of our Kensington office and applying for NDIS case worker jobs. Those applications were not successful. I’d started looking at new places to move to. I hated the idea of leaving our lovely home.

Since then, COVID hit the planet big time. Work moved to ‘remote required’ and I started working from home, relieving me of three hours of travel three times a week.

This move to Teleservices opened up an opportunity for me to run national, rather than regional, groups. Working with my interests and talents and qualifications, I put together a creative writing group proposal which has taken off in a far bigger way than I had anticipated. I am currently teaching 5 groups per fortnight. This meant my work contract was extended and my title changed to Recreation Worker. I had resisted the title change for a couple of years knowing that role usually attracts a lower renumeration. However, I have retained my current income bracket, so am happy with that.

In addition, I was recommended for a position to administrate and moderate a pilot project for parents of our child clients. I commenced that temporary position as Parent Community Lead mid-October. Working with parents in an online community is very much in line with previous experience. Developing skills in content development is definitely a boon to the resume. If the community goes well, the contract will be extended past April. If not, we’ll deal.

So, I’m back to working full time, but am working from home, which is far more convenient and less stressful.

I may well be unemployed in 2021 again, but for now we have a reprieve.

Health wise 2020 has been a bit up and down. In March I had what turned out to be my third cardiac arrest - including one I was completely unaware of. My last ICD check up has revealed a number of near misses throughout the year (episodes of arrhythmia which did not end up lasting long enough to trigger the ICD, thank goodness).

Then 10 days ago I had an appendicitis attack. It started slowly on Friday night with what just felt like a stomach ache that wouldn’t quit. It stuck around Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. On Monday, I felt very tired and ended up napping after lunch. On Monday night Panadol wasn’t touching the sides. Early Tuesday morning, I was starting to feel nauseous. Dave suggested calling a doctor to home visit. I took one look at our lounge room and said no. Which turned out to be a very good thing.

A GP would most likely has diagnosed constipation because the pain was all up under my diaphragm. That would have been very, very bad. Instead, I said we should go to the emergency department. By the time we got there, I was feeling quite a lot of pain. I got in to see a doctor after about an hour. She thought maybe I was having and ectopic pregnancy after a physical exam which pin-pointed pain around my right ovary. Neither Dave nor I liked that diagnosis! A pregnancy test was added to my bloods panel, but of course that was not the situation. Seriously, I’m about to turn 49!

I was sent off for a contrast MRI, which revealed an appendix more than twice its usual size and I was admitted for an emergency appendectomy. As it turned out, I didn’t get into the OR until first thing Tuesday morning. An operation which should have taken about an hour, took three. The appendix was perforated and necrotic, so there was quite a clean up job to do. Three hours of anaesthetic led to four hours in the PACU and a five day stay with two different antibiotics which were continued on in tablet form for five days after returning home. In the PACU, I caused a flurry of activity twice due to hyperoxia. Don’t know if I seized, but I’ll ask during my post op check up.

On the sunny side of health, I’ve lost 25kg since April, which is nice. 

We’ve decided not to host Christmas this year because of COVID. I’m relieved, I wouldn’t cope with arranging a big Christmas lunch right now.

On the whole 2020 has been a pretty good year for us. Lots of family time thanks to remote education for the younger boys. I’m very impressed with both of them being very conscientious about attending classes and being self-regulating in their required work. Ari was the only student in his class not to miss a class. He managed his own time, as well, always in class on time.

There are still 3.5 weeks left of the year. Hopefully these weeks will be uneventful.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Back to Mac


I managed to get back to a Mac environment.

Since starting work three and a half years ago, I've been working within a Windows environment and it's been driving me nuts. You know what they say, 'Once you Mac you never go back.' Well, I had to go back and I hated it. I still have to use Windows for work, but I've decided for personal use I just had to go back to Mac.

I had gotten a Samsung S20+ phone a couple of months ago because I was under the impression that it had two SIM slots and that it would make a huge difference to dealing with work calls in that I wouldn't need to carry around two phones. I'd become notorious for not answering the work phone and it wasn't good, especially once we went to 'remote required' at work in March and I couldn't rely on my desk phone recording messages. Unfortunately, it turned out no carriers in Australia were servicing two physical SIMs (which the Telstra agent decided not to tell me when I was explaining why I was getting the Samsung). They do, however, support a regular SIM and an e-SIM, but I didn't need a Samsung for that. My iPhone 10 XS Max would have done the job nicely (I didn't know it had an e-SIM and the Telstra agent didn't think to tell me).

So, I've been struggling along with the Samsung. There were several things I hate about it - the different gestures for everything, the messy home screens, the accessibility modes, the way I had to double tap or swipe up to get to the pass gesture thingy before I could make or answer a call even though there was a phone icon right there on the lock screen. Everything took far more effort and time than necessary. I tried to get used to it, but I just couldn't. I was told by Erik it was because Apple users are just not as sophisticated as Samsung users. Hell, it's a phone! It shouldn't have to be so complex to use. It's supposed to save time, not slow everything down. Also the Samsung AND Google store - wow, what a mess and half the apps didn't even work.

Oh, and it was really tedious having to email all my photos to myself to access them on the iPad.

So, anyway, I'm selling the Samsung and I've ordered an iPhone. I've bought an iMac, and now I can use my iWatch again. It's truly like coming home. I do use Microsoft Office 365 on the Mac, but that is my only concession.

My work desk - which has had to be set up in the bedroom was replaced with a bigger one because it now houses a PC, Surface Pro (which work is exchanging for a laptop this week), an iPad on an awesome stand, and the iMac (only 21.5" because the 27" one would have been overkill). I also got a new desk chair which is much more upright that the previous one. Dave has the previous chair because he's set up his computer in the dining room and was using a dining chair, which irked me.

Once I've given the house a bit of a tidy up, I'll take some photos and pop them up on the blog (now that Ari has finally gone back to school after a 7 month stint doing remote learning because of COVID-19, I can finally tidy up and know it will stay that way).

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Absent Seizure...

A couple of weeks ago I had an absent seizure. My neurologist has been telling me I have these periodically, although he couldn’t tell me how often, and I couldn’t tell him either because I’m not aware of them - until the other week.

I was watching The Blacklist (17th time, now). I know the show really well now, and so on this occasion I was watching a scene where I know the dialogue almost word for word - how on earth Spader reckons he can read a script once and retain it right away is beyond me - I’ve watch the series so often and am only just now being able to recite some of it! Anyway, I digress.

So, I was watching this scene and I suddenly became aware it had skipped a whole chunk of story, a least a couple of minutes. I thought maybe it was a streaming thing, so I set it back to when it jumped and it played just fine.

I hadn’t continued crocheting either, I was mid-row of a patterned crochet piece and hadn’t progressed further along the row. This is another way I know it didn’t just lose concentration - as I’m wont to do. When my mind wanders my crocheting continues on auto-pilot.

Basically, mid-stitch my brain had entered an electrical blizzard and my body had frozen in place while time ticked on. Weirdest experience. 

Anyway, I thought it was worth noting the first time I was aware I’d experienced an absent seizure...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Only players...

The subject of friendship came up for me recently.

I can't say I have any close friends now and that's okay. It's okay because I came to realise that all my adult friendships had been built on a shared contempt of a third party - either an individual or group. I had been part of a lot of back biting, fault finding, and general bitchiness. Yes, there was support and there were people to share joys and sorrows with, but truth be told most of the conversations I participated in with my friends were about the shortcomings of other people.

I'm quite ashamed of that.

I was never part of that sort of thing at school. Usually, I hadn't been at any school long enough to really know who the cool kids, and the rejects, and the rebels were. I didn't get bullied and I wasn't a part of any bullying culture. So, I guess as an adult I enjoyed being part of something, part of a group with drawn lines of battle.

The thing with battles is that there are always turncoats, double agents, dictators, and power corrupts. It corrupted me. I would find my place by the side of the top dog - or bitch - and from that seat, I'd look down on the unclean and judge them. I was never actually the top dog myself, I was always part of the support crew. I was an enabler.

It poisoned me and wasn't good for my soul. When, inevitably, I found myself on the wrong side of the battle, I felt hurt, and I got angry (I'm definitely a fight, not flight sort of person). What I didn't acknowledge was that I'd happily pushed other people onto the wrong side of the field, myself, because I felt it was my right to put people in their place. I was proud of not pulling punches, I told me it meant they always knew where they stood with me and they did, but it wasn't something I should've been proud of.

As Red said...

I don't really think I know how to make friends, or even really how to be a friend. Maybe I'm antisocial? 

Whatever the case, I'm quite content, for now, to let that world be. At least until I figure out what friendship really is and how it really works.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

That Keto life...

Determined not to join the ranks of people who will be putting on a little extra weight this COVID-19 season (let's face it, it can be very had to resist the pantry when you're stuck inside all day, every day), I've jumped back on the Keto wagon.

I know this works for me, but for some time now - say, three years - I haven't been able to stick with it. Honestly, the stress of having to go to work everyday had a lot to do with it. Getting out of the house is stressful for me. I would comfort eat at my desk, and sitting all day, it was bound to cause weight gain.

I've always been an intermittant faster - well before I even heard the term. I have skipped breakfast since I can remember - and been told off for this natural inclination more times than I can count.

So, with a combination of a very low sugar diet and intermittant fasting (20:4 most days), I'm starting to fit better into various clothing I've missed wearing.

Side effects?

For me, no bad side effects - I bullshit you not.

I'm sleeping better and most days I don't need a nap (I was getting to the point that I was more asleep than awake during the day. I would literally nod off at my keyboard, and my blood sugars were good, my iron was good, I was in pretty good shape). I am just don't have that mid-afternon slump, anymore.

I'm not getting hunger headaches or blood sugar drop headaches - I am still have the occassional eye strain headache, and have had a cluster migraine in the time since I started.

No cravings.

No hunger.

I'm not putting any pressure on myself to do a set number of carb grams, I just eat foods very low in carbs (well, I did get a bottle of Bailey's for Mother's Day, but I'm only sipping my way through a shot glass full each night as a treat).

My head is clearer, which goes hand in hand with not feeling sleepy all the time, I guess.

Maybe I'll come out of these strange times healthier than when I went into them? That would be good.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Reddington has statin toxicity..

Some time ago, I wrote about Reddington having an illness (not news, I know) and that I thought it might be somehow related to Vascular Dementia because of the storyline with Samar. After episode 7.18 though, I'm convinced he actually has statin toxicity.

Here's why... Statin toxicity can lead to, amongst other things, the following;

1. Type II diabetes - remember him injecting himself back in season 5?

2. Muscle pain - which might explain his non-stop drinking.

3. Heamhorragic anurisms - Dembe tells Red he keeps putting himself in more and more danger;

4. Congnitive issues, such as alzheimers - might be why he and Dembe are always playing mind-stimulating games.

Statin toxicity is adversely affected by, among other things...

1. Having untreated hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, liver disease, and kidney disease (might explain the fluctuating weight - sorry Jimmy if that's not the case, good excuse though. You're welcome).

2. Heavy alcohol consumption (oh my, yes - but again, also a good way to dampen muscular pain).

3. Vigorous exercise (okay, not so much of late, but certainly when he was in training back in the Academy (statin intolerance can be genetic - could have been trigger early, though not as common as the damage caused by taking statins for a heart condition or high cholesterol).

4. Having type I or type II diabetes (this is a catch 22 as statin toxicity can also lead to diabetes).

5. Excessive cranberry or grapefruit juice intake (As referenced in episode 7.18)

6. Drug interactions, namely with medicines used to treat HIV, antibiotic medications, antidepressants, medications used to suppress the immune system, and medications for irregular heart rhythms (who knows what medications he took, especially after his cosmetic surgery to remove burn scars as much as possible).

7. Major trauma or surgery (lots of that in his life, all sorts, bullet wounds, dying in Marakesh, dying after a boat he was in capsised, being burned, car accidents again and again, need I go on?).

Tonight's show was portentuous to say the least.

Unfortunately, due to the who COVID-19 situation, the season was cut short by three episodes, so next week will be the last until goodness only knows when. Will we have a 25 episode season 8 to make up for it? We shall see.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

The Blacklist: What if Lizzie isn’t Masha?

I’ve been ruminating on two things I heard or read some time ago.

The first was when Exectutive Producer Bokenkamp posed the question, ‘Who would be most invested in a child’.

The other is the constant message that Lizzie would never be able to forgive Reddington if she knew the truth.

To the first, the obvious answer would be a parent, and Reddington would be that person.

The second question - what would Lizzie never forgive Red for? - isn’t at first obvious. What could be so horrendous? She’s already forgiven him for turning her life upside down, for ruining her marriage (because she was happy to live that lie), for killing her foster father, for impersonating her biological father, for trying to kill her mother, Katarina. 

For so many things.

Reddington asks Liz  ‘What if everything you’ve come to believe about yourself is a lie.’

Knowing Lizzie as we do now, to find out she never was Masha, that she was used to take Masha’s place in order to protect the real Masha for some reason, that she was put in the path of danger from childhood, and that Reddington had some part in that decision - even though he has watched over her all her life...  now THAT would be something Liz would find ultimately unforgivable.

There are probably a thousand holes that would need to be plugged for this to work and I haven’t tried to find them or plug them, but it’s an interesting thought.

2020 - the year that was...