Sunday, May 22, 2016

shiny, clean, and protected

Because the universe is a right cruel bastard/bitch, two months after taking delivery of my car last year, I was swept up in the ever-so-entertaining world of shingles and its "uncommon complication" postherpetic neuralgia. On my trigeminal nerve, no less, with optic nerve and corneal involvement. So in addition to the pain (holy shit, the pain, great googly moogly), I was also gifted with no vision out of my right eye for months (which in turn caused the left eye to squint and water), then extremely limited use of the eye for another month after that. Plus medications that played merry havoc with my balance, memory, digestion, speech, and (oh, cruel irony) visual acuity.

All of that combined meant my poor car sat for six months, sad and forlorn, the red light of the trickle charger blink-blink-blinking away. For another three months after that, I wasn't able to drive for any distance or useful period of time, so minimal miles were added to the poor thing's already neglected odometer.

I'm still fighting the neuralgia, still fighting the pain, but it's finally settling into a routine. I'm much more familiar with the triggers, the twitches, the nausea, the fallout, the rebound, and the exhaustion that come with living with nerve damage and chronic/constant pain. That means I can start driving more (huzzah!), and to celebrate and because he's awesome, Will arranged to have my car fully clear-wrapped by our friends at SS Customs (they've done multiple cars of ours, including the camo wrap on the McLaren for the GG2H rally a few years back).

We picked up my car today and grabbed a few pics on the way home, before it got too many bug guts splattered on it. I love the look of a freshly detailed car, especially one that now has a protective vinyl wrap keeping it safer from chips, dings, bugs, washing, and all the other things that would turn its paint into scratchy swirls, annoying divots, and faded patches.

Here's hoping the universe keeps its grubby little paws off the Bad Luck Stick for a while, so I can put some well-deserved miles on this puppy...








Saturday, May 07, 2016

and now we know at least part of the answer

Whenever people ask us how we met, Will and I say "at work". When they ask *when* we met, we kind of shrug and say "not really sure, sometime late 2007/2008ish, maybe?"

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we now know that eight years ago on this day, May 7th, we had at least learned each other's full names:


Collage details, clockwise from the top right:

"Disneyland is full" - We went to Disneyland on our honeymoon for their Leap Day "24 Hours of Disneyland" and were greeted with this sign while stuck in traffic for four hours to go about three miles (no joke).

Vegas 2014 - That's us peeking out from the background with Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method in the front center. We did a "be part of the band" thing and had dinner with Ken and Scott (aka "The Crystal Method"), their manager, Ken's parents and brother, and some family friends. After dinner, we hung out with everyone as Ken and Scott played, with much partying, dancing, drinking, and fun being had. (Ken's brother Frank is between us in the photo...Frank is the one who painted the portrait of our dinner with everyone that night).

Memories of our time at the "Pure McLaren Driving Experience" - We flew to London for a few days, then headed to Woking for a tour of the McLaren factory, dinner in the country with Frank Stephenson (designer of the McLaren MP4-12C (and the 2002 Mini!)), an awesome time screaming around Goodwood racetrack in McLarens, and an equally awesome driving them through the English countryside and city streets (that's when I realized the McLarens were just as viable street cars as they are track cars).

Stacy and Will in the car - That's our friend Stacy ("the other Stacy" or "No-E Stacy") going for a ride in the McLaren. I giggle at Facebook choosing a picture of another Stac(e)y for this collage.

"Will Lawton is married to Stacey Lawton" - The inset pic is from our trip to the World IPv6 conference in Paris; we are at the top of the Eiffel Tower, pointing at the "United States is this direction" placard. When we changed our relationship status on Facebook, that's the picture the algorithm chose...love that it makes it look like we are pointing at the announcement of our marriage. :^)

Monday, February 29, 2016

first anniversary

Crazy how time flies. Four years ago today, Will and I were all dressed up, standing in front of big picture windows looking out onto the Pacific, with his childhood pastor and ten of our closest friends around us...then a fun lunch with everyone before heading off to Disneyland for their "24 Hours of Disney" event (which really meant being stuck in horrific traffic, taking four hours to move less than a mile, the park closing because of the sheer numbers, and other assorted craziness).

As many people have said about that day: "It was very 'you guys'." :^)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

flying under a full moon

I have always said that I love the world from above at night. I will take night flights whenever possible, window seat, to see the lights and patterns from the air. Monday night, I got to do that from a more personal perspective...a local flying group does a monthly Full Moon Flyout, and I called dibs on the backseat in the Cessna Skylane 182 that Will had reserved for the night. Will as pilot, Matt S. in the right seat, and me kicking back in the rear...it was an awesome night.

The evening started out with some glitches, though. I had taken my car in for its annual service earlier in the day, and we were going to pick it up in the afternoon then head to the airport. Got a call with the news that my rear tire had a nail in the inside sidewall; the the technicians did some bubble testing on it to see if it leaked, and it didn't, which was good news. Wisely, Will pointed out that it was better to remove it there and find out it leaked than to find out the hard way at midnight when we got back, so we waited for a bit while they removed the nail and tested the tire. I lucked out, it was only a short stub of a nail that didn't penetrate far into the rubber, but now we were running about 30 minutes late and ran smack into Bay Area traffic (the highways near the Google/Facebook/Microsoft campuses are *not* fun during commute hours).

The other (much bigger) annoyance came as Will was doing his pre-flight checks...the plane had been overfueled by 13 gallons. Not usually a problem, but with the three of us, it meant we needed to burn off some fuel before we could safely take off (fuel is heavy, 6 lbs/gallon, so the weight adds up fast in a small plane). This led to Will doing laps in the KPAO pattern (take off, make the right turn back parallel to the airport, another right turn, land, turn off the runway, taxi down to the start of the runway, get clearance to take off, repeat) for almost an hour before enough fuel was burned off. The hazards of general aviation (GA)...it could have been worse; when Will flew himself and a friend down to San Diego earlier this month for a work conference, he ended up with a flat tire and a five hour delay before being able to head home.

Once the three of us were in the air, it was beautiful. It was an amazingly clear night, and the full moon on the water was spectacular. I got a few pictures, but they just didn't quite capture it. We were heading north to Charles M. Schultz airport (STS) in Santa Rosa, so we got to see pretty much the entire Bay Area under the full moon. We had dinner at the Sky Lounge with the rest of the flyout group, then headed back to KPAO (Palo Alto airport) with stop-and-go landings at Oakland and San Jose airports (holy crap, do those airports look different from a small plane than the normal passenger jets I see them from).

An awesome night, with awesome company and awesome views...looking forward to the next one.

Silicon Valley at night.

You can see the Bay Bridge lights in the center here.

Another shot of the Bay Bridge. I liked how the grid lined up in this one.

Looking back at the Golden Gate Bridge, with the moon reflecting on the water.

Flying over O.co (Oracle) Coliseum
(photo courtesy of Matt S.)

Downtown San Jose
(photo courtesy of Matt S.)


Landing at SJC (San Jose International)
(photo courtesy of Matt S.)

Monday, February 08, 2016

a (mostly) quiet house

Will is off on a business trip, so I've got the house to myself for a while (well, along with the cat and the dog). Life has settled into somewhat of a routine, complicated (and enforced) by the ongoing neuralgia troubles (the face and scalp nerve damage from the shingles last year). It's been ten months now since it all started, and while I'm better than I was six months ago, it's plateaued...the pain and all that goes with it have hit a holding pattern. I'm completely off the Gabapentin (nerve pain medication), though it's still working its way out of my system; once my body chemistry is back to normal/baseline, I'll be able to better figure out what the next steps should be.

I've been enjoying having some time alone, and I'm also looking forward to Will coming home. Going to be interesting when he does, actually...Will flew himself and a friend down to Southern California; when he left, there were flight restrictions because of the Super Bowl (which was in the Bay Area), so he had to be mindful of times and no-fly zones. When he comes back, there are some serious restrictions over the Bay Area and Southern California as the president comes in, so it's going to be a few days of scouring FAA notices and figuring out flight times and allowable altitudes and the like (well, for Will, that is...I just sit tight and wait until he pings me with their arrival time). It's been fascinating seeing the behind-the-scenes workings of general aviation...so complicated, so cool.

Because of the pain, it's been a bit of a challenge to get out and about, but I'm very lucky to have awesome friends who are supremely patient with my current limitations. We headed to Oakland with Matt to see round four of the Supercross series, which was really interesting to see live...we did the pre-heat track walk, so crazy to see the jumps and ruts and inclines they negotiate. Hung out with Karen, somehow passing hours talking and driving and just existing for a while, which was a much-needed recharge. Got to hang out with Eric when he stayed overnight before Will flew them down to San Diego for the conference; always awesome to share references and laughs with someone on the same wavelength. Some good friends are having their first baby, very excited for them. New patch and season for Diablo III, so been playing with Will and friends (the changes have made being a witch doctor fun). Lots of new and surprisingly good telly being saved on the DVR (Lucifer, Legends of Tomorrow, Flash, Elementary, and more), the Deadpool movie comes out this week (cue my hipster "I had Deadpool comics before the movie was a thing"), taxes are pretty much done (just the CPA visit in a few weeks to review everything), things keep cranking along.

So anyway, that's life right now. Some days being human and interactive and going out and about and having fun, some days spent useless because of pain (usually following the "oatnaboat" days), some productive days, some lazy days. Basically, life.

(Speaking of life, it's time to feed the dog...his internal clock is astonishingly accurate. It's eerie.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

a not so silent night

Another year, another Live105 Not So Silent Night. This time we were VIPs through Oracle Coliseum's O Club (instead of through Live105 ticketing directly), and it fizzled...the seats were good, pretty much right next to the stage (though to the side of the speakers), but the program is so new that there are still glitches with the private parking and entry. Sadly, the delays caused by those glitches meant we missed the first band, X Ambassadors, but soon Will, two of our friends, and I were in with drinks in hand (and in the case of me and Will, earplugs in ears).

This year, the line-up was X Ambassadors, Foals, Chvrches, Halsey, Silversun Pickups, Bastille, Death Cab for Cutie, and Weezer. Bastille were awesome, Death Cab disappointed a bit (their sound mix was off and the lead singer's vocals were a bit muddled, and they spent a little too much time noodling and playing instrumental bits, which lost the crowd), and Weezer frickin' rocked it. I looked it up: Rivers Cuomo is 45 years old, and he was belting and running around the stage and had the crowd amped up. They alone made it worth going.

A few random thoughts for me to giggle over when I re-read this years from now:

* I was cracking up at the surplus of skinny jeans, bushy beards, and hair cream. Band and audience alike.

* Rivers was wearing skinny jeans. You go, old man.

* I know a *lot* more Weezer songs than I thought.

* The crowd was generally much younger than I want to admit.

* The crowd knew a lot more Weezer songs than I would have thought, especially given the whole age thing.

* My friend Susy was there too, but we ended up on opposite sides of the floor. We spent parts of the night waving to each other, texting our observations about the bands, and giggling at one thing or another.

* We had an awesome conversation on the ride to the show. Rambling, deep, personal, fluffy, crass, honest...one of those rare organic conversations that you can't force, they have to just happen.

* Even with the entry snafus, the O Club membership is pretty cool. You pay for the privilege, and you have to put some effort into making sure you get your money's worth out of the tickets, but it's a cool way to get access to events through the year.

* I knew more lyrics and more of the songs than some of the younger (hipper) folks in the audience. Heh.

* Ye gods, I'm old. Or the crowd is young. Or a painful mix of both, more likely.

Monday, November 02, 2015

and now for something completely different

Headed down to Laguna Seca yesterday to hang out with a friend who does Porsche Cup car racing. He brought his cup car and installed the passenger seat (there is usually a cooling system for the driver in its place instead), so a few of us were able to ride along with him during his sessions. It was just a standard track day for our buddy, so he was driving for fun, not for glory (which is why passengers were allowed). It was also a very rare "unlimited sound" day at Laguna (it's normally limited  to 92dB), so there was an amazing variety of cars making an amazing variety of noises.

The weather cooperated beautifully, so we were able to enjoy a top-down drive in my car on the way down (man, I miss driving). Hung out with the awesome folks of BR Racing, who do the race support for our friend...it is fascinating to see some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that is needed to keep race cars racing. We didn't even get to see the whole of it, since it wasn't a race day; it's usually hustling and hectic, with constant tweaking and fixing and downloading and telemetry and analysis and driver briefings and a thousand other things (luckily, we have a standing invitation to hang out, so I'll get to see the organized chaos when the series starts up again).

Yesterday was a casual day, though. Two track day groups through Trackmasters, two CFRA (Checkered Flag Racing Association) race groups, making a total of four car groups trading off 20-minute sessions, with each group getting five sessions throughout the day. And holy cow, twenty minutes in a race car goes by really, really fast.

It was a long day: we started our day around 4am and didn't get back home until after 7pm. But it was an incredibly fun day shared with some very cool people; there were lovely sights, sounds, and smells; and it got both me and Will seriously thinking (again) about getting ourselves a dedicated track car. It's one thing to drive your fast street car around a track...but it's a totally different world when you get yourself a car that is *born* to zoom from turn to turn.

A few pictures from the day:

Map of the track from the Driver's Briefing

Our buddy's Cup Car, Number 11 (aka "Kelly")

Our buddy, going through pre-race checks.

This is what happens when you lock up the tires.
An expensive (and sometimes dangerous) mistake.

Down the main straight. This is fun part, where we hit 130+ mph.

Me, our buddy, and Car 11, getting ready to head out for our session.

Me, our buddy, and Car 11, getting ready to head out for our session.
 
Will, our buddy, and Car 11, just before their session.


Will, our buddy, and Car 11, just before their session.

One of the ways to transport the cars (it's lifted up and
stored on an upper platform, while tools, equipment,
parts, and another car are stored below).

Another way to transport the cars (that lift goes up higher
and a second car is pulled in underneath).

And a very short, laughably quiet video of Kelly doing her thing down the main straight.  It's an unlimited sound day, so the sound is especially pathetic compared to actually being there, but you can get a glimpse of a few of the different cars that were enjoying the lack of sound restrictions.

(And it really doesn't look like they are going 100+ mph, does it? I love that main straight, so much fun, second only to the Corkscrew.)



Friday, October 23, 2015

why I've been offline for so long

That post I made back on April 25th of my car and the Targa top mechanism doing its thing? The very next day, everything went to shit...and I had no idea just how much of an effect the following week would have on the months after.

WARNING: REALLY LONG POST AHEAD.


A summary of that first fateful week:

April 23rd - May 1st: Will is in the Bahamas for GPF 10 (yeah, a work trip to the Bahamas, I know). I'm taking care of the house and the dog while he's gone.

April 26th: I get a migraine. No big deal, it happens every three months or so.

April 27th: Wow, this migraine is lasting a while. Cue ice and ibuprofen and cautious rubbing of temples and muscles.

April 28th: Seriously? A three day migraine?!? This is crazy. My eye really hurts too, maybe it's actually a sinus infection.

April 29th-April 30th: These two days were a blur. Pain, nausea, no sleep, can't keep any medication down.

May 1st: Have to tell Will I can't pick him up at the airport. He ubers home, finds me miserable, in massive pain, and puking. Just before midnight, I ask him to take me to the ER.

May 2nd, 2am: "You have shingles."


A bit more information:

So yeah. Shingles. Affecting my face and head, which is not as common; specifically my trigeminal nerve, spreading onto the maxillary (upper jaw) and ophthalmic (eye) nerve clusters. Lovely leprous lesions on the top right quadrant of my head, eye swollen shut and useless, pain like I truly hadn't experienced before. Seriously, no lie, it was the worst pain I've *ever* had...and I once had my big toenail ripped out from the root in a bizarre accident, so that's saying something. To give you an idea of the area covered, here's an illustration I found online somewhere of the trigeminal nerve (and it doesn't show the gazillions of offshoot nerves branching off the major clusters):


One interesting thing: In spite of the five days of hell before, the "going to the ER" timing was actually good; it was the absolute earliest I could have gone and had it diagnosed quickly as shingles, because the lesions didn't truly pop until the 3rd. This is what the ER doctor saw:

May 2nd, 2015 - 12:14am

That's it. Just a swollen, watery eye and some skin redness, which (silly me) I thought was from the ice packs and rubbing. The doctor heard my tale of woe, took one look at me, called it as shingles and said the lesions would come soon. And they did. This is barely a day later:

May 3rd, 2015 - 4:10am

I'll spare you the weeping, oozing (and later, crusty) grossness of the progression. This picture shows the affected area quite nicely...it was quite literally a line down the middle of my face from scalp to nose tip, then back from nose tip to earlobe, and all the way around to the back of my head and up my scalp to the center of my head.

May 3rd, 2015 - 12:14pm

It got much worse from there. Not a glamorous time in the Lawton household.


The treatment:

Immediate prescriptions for Valacyclovir (to fight the virus itself), Gabapentin (nerve pain suppressant), and industrial strength Ibuprofen (which did nothing but make me throw up even more); my GP later added Prednisone (a steroid) and Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminopen) as well. The pain didn't stop, even with all of the meds, but the lesions did go away in about ten days, which greatly impressed my doctors.

Unfortunately, the fun was just beginning.


My eye fun:

The nasty pain and swelling of my eye and the resulting loss of vision called for a trip to the ophthalmologist, who had frickin' awesome news (that's sarcasm): the shingles virus (Herpes Zoster, the grown-up version of Varicella Zoster, our dear friend chicken pox) had made its way into my eye itself, between my cornea and my lens. We added steroid drops to the drug regimen and monitored everything carefully, which meant bi-weekly trips to the ophthalmologist for the first few weeks. My eye was *not* happy:

May 15th, 2015 - 5:09pm

(That pic was taken two weeks after the lesions first appeared; they had cleared up beautifully, but the eye troubles were just beginning. As you can see, my eye is swollen quite a bit; I am struggling to open it for the picture. My right eyebrow is lifted because of the swelling...my eyelid and the eye itself were swollen so much that they pushed the eyebrow out and up.)

Those were some scary weeks for me. I was terrified of losing my vision. I couldn't see out of my right eye, and my left eye was suffering from sympathetic watering and had trouble staying open as well. I couldn't read, browse the internet, watch telly or movies, play video games; even if I weren't on the cocktail of drugs, driving was completely out of the question because of my vision. Email and messages had to be neglected, because I couldn't see to take care of them. I had to be led around by the arm; Will very sweetly guided to my multiple appointments. I hoped that things would work out okay, but had to plan a bit in case they didn't.

It took about a month for the double dose of steroids to reduce the swelling, but eventually it did go down and my vision slowly returned (though my eyelid still drooped a bit from muscle damage caused by the inflammation). I continued weekly visits to the ophthalmologist, and one of those visits brought the news that I now had corneal lesions, caused by the body attacking the site of the virus. The virus itself was gone, but the body was kind of going into overdrive and slamming the corneal area with antibodies, which were causing lesions on my cornea (cue the "but of course" resigned reaction and the rekindling of the fear of losing my sight). Another month of diligently continuing the steroid drops reduced them to near nothingness, but to this day I still have to use the drops to prevent a rebound, and I am seeing the ophthalmologist every three to four weeks to keep monitoring the cornea.


My face fun:

The lesions healed beautifully; the only trace of them were some scars on my scalp, a pockmark on my forehead, and a few minor spots of redness at my temple and above my eye. That's the good news.

The bad news is that I was one of those even more rare cases that gets a complication called "postherpetic neuralgia" (PHN for short). PHN is basically nerve damage caused by the virus; in my case, it caused surface numbness (mostly around my eye, up to my temple, and back into my scalp) and pain. A whole fuckload of pain. There were two main types: persistent blanketing pain and random spikes. The persistent pain over that entire quadrant of my head was constant...think of how your skin feels when you get a sunburn, that weird tightness and the continual awareness of the damaged area. It's kind of like that, always *there*, always hurting.

The pain spikes were (and are) a right bitch. Look back at that picture of my face, the one taken from above and I'm looking down. Everywhere there is redness or a lesion (including my scalp) is where I can get pain spikes. Sudden, sharp, take your breath away pain. On bad nights, I would end up crying and throwing up from the rapid-fire pain and the unpredictability of the pattern in which it would hit. My skin was extremely sensitive: wind, touch, my hair, even temperature differentials caused horrible pain. And weirdly, the pain itself would take different forms. Sometimes it was a stabbing pain, like someone jabbed an icepick into my skull. Sometimes it felt like burning, sometimes like sudden freezing ice, sometimes it was like fire ants were burrowing into my skin. Think of all the information that your nerves communicate to you every nanosecond, then imagine that information getting turned into mangled signals that the brain confuses and jumbles and can only interpret as "that really hurts". It would be fascinating if it weren't happening to me.


The aftermath:

It's been six months since I first thought I had a migraine. Six months since the shingles virus "activated", to use the jargon, and I'm still struggling with the pain. After a lot of dosage tweaking, the Gabapentin has helped a bit with the persistent pain; at the least, it has dialed it down in intensity. Unfortunately, the pain spikes continue. The frequency has lessened, but they are still bad, still random. There are a few things that I have learned trigger bad episodes: the sun really causes trouble, the wind, pressure on the trigeminal nerve or some of the more affected areas (like my temple, parts of my scalp, or my forehead). I've also found out that too much activity can cause the pain spikes to worsen; the pattern has become essentially "one good day out and about acting like a normal human being means two to three days of pain and exhaustion and possibly being bed-ridden".

It's getting old. The constant pain. The exhaustion. The inability to lead a normal life, and the punishment when I try. The Gabapentin has frustrating side effects: short-term memory loss, blurry vision (especially scary when battling corneal lesions), body chemistry changes. The Percocet doesn't do much at all for the pain; I barely feel it take effect, but I still take it on bad nights in the hopes that it will at least let me get a bit of sleep. But as an opioid, it comes with its own issues, so I use it sparingly. Generally, PHN last months, and in some rare cases, it is permanent. In my lower moments, I think of the possibility that this could be a forever thing, and I go to some pretty dark places. The more this goes on, the more tired I grow. I had hoped that I could acclimate to the pain, slowly reset my bar for what "pain" is, but it hasn't happened (or if it has, it's not enough). The mental/emotional parts of me are taking a beating.

Showering *hurts*. Lying on my right side is only possible with careful positioning of pillows (which never stay in place). Because of the meds and the pain, I can't drive often; my lovely new car sat for months waiting patiently for me to take it back out. I can't socialize much; during the first few months, I missed the weddings of some dear friends because I was bed-ridden with the pain. I can't be in the sun, and I can't wear hats to block the sun because the pressure causes pain. Will worked hard and got his private pilot's license recently, and I can't go flying with him often because the headset puts too much pressure on the affected areas, the sun hurts, the wind hurts, the noise hurts. Basically, I can't really *live*.

Fuck PHN, fuck persistent pain.


Some bright spots:

Will has been absolutely incredible through all of this...he's picked up the slack when I've let things fall, been there to prop up my Gabapentined memory, given me a hand to squeeze when the pain gets bad, and has just been an amazing rock for me to lean on. When I was puking for days because of the pain, he made sure I had water, crackers, a cold cloth, a bucket by the bed, and a clear path to the bathroom at all times. When I couldn't lie down because it hurt so much, he got me a seven foot teddy bear to sleep upright against. He gives me a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, a hand to hold. His patience has been incredible, much greater than mine; he overlooks my bitchy moments, doesn't berate me for giving in to the pain, gives me reasons to work through it. He's been amazing.

I have close friends that have been there for me, always ready with a joke or a smile or a delivery of Panda Express to distract me and brighten my day. One of my dearest friends has been going through their own shit, dealing with cancer and surgery and all that entails, yet they still reach out to me and ask how I'm doing. We share stories about the pain and the drugs and the side effects and the tiredness and depression and emotion...it has helped immensely to be able to compare notes and talk candidly with someone who knows firsthand what it's like to try to live with pain.

I've been able to help a few acquaintances by sharing information and anecdotes and my experiences; one has a mother dealing with neuralgia (not from shingles, but similar effects), another has nerve damage and was excited to talk to someone who understood how stupid it all is. I've connected with former co-workers who had similar experiences, forming an informal sort of support group. I've had a bit of life put into perspective by all this; some things become bigger, other smaller. Like many who go through life-changing experiences, I have learned who is there for me and who isn't (and have let the "isn't" folks fade away). People I least expected stepped up in ways that caught me wonderfully by surprise. I'm fortunate to be in a place in life where I can focus almost exclusively on dealing with this, which has been an incredible help.

I am lucky to have these bits of brightness in my life.


To wrap it up:

It's hard to admit how much this is getting to me. The bright spots I talk about above are awesome, but it still gets rough in the dark hours of the morning. I love that people care; I hate that I don't have any progress to share when they ask. I look fine, until you notice the slightly drooping right eye and the facial tics caused by the pain spikes. People see me out at an event or a gathering and are excited that I am "back to normal"; they don't see the days of backlash from being "normal" for that day.

Persistent pain is a bitch. It saps your strength, makes it hard to breathe, makes you a grumpy motherfucker. You feel like a complete whiner and weakling and asshole if you let it get to you. It's hard to explain what you are going through, especially when there is no visible sign of the malady. You feel like you should be handling it better. You get pissed: at your body, at the virus, at chicken pox, at the useless medications, at everything and nothing and especially yourself. You feel helpless. You feel angry. You feel useless.

In short: It sucks.



----------

Bonus pics:

Pepper, keeping me company.

My Nerd, with sympathetic eye patch.

Awesome flowers from an awesome friend.

See? I wasn't kidding...it really is
a seven-foot tall teddy bear.

Monday, July 27, 2015

a quiet place

I was talking with a friend a bit ago about refuges...those places that you go when you need a bit of peace, recharging, solace, isolation. It made me think of one I had a long time ago, back in a different life, a place that still sticks with me today. It was a weird little add-on room at the back of a small 800sqft rental; a sort of sunroom, but definitely hand-made [and sooo not to code]: bare wood 2x4s framing it, big sheets of clear plastic nailed to the wood for walls, a rough roof, and a gravel floor. I added a rug, a futon, a small lamp, and a CD player, and it became an awesome little hideaway. Since it was in the back of the house, it never got direct sun; most of the day was just filtered light and dappled shade. Lots of time spent back there curled up on the futon with a book, music playing softly, sipping tea or hot cocoa, maybe with a scented candle lit [probably vanilla, knowing me].

To this day, I haven't been able to replicate that little refuge...it was an odd little oasis carved out of an even odder space. The best ones tend to come about organically, a happenstance of location and configuration. And that little room was as awesome as it was unexpected...not bad for a janky little add-on to a small little house in a tiny community along the coast.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I love German engineering

The car I mentioned in my previous post [I'm still getting used to the sound of a flat six...trust me, it sounds much more awesome when you stomp on it]: