Medication Dilemma

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Consumer Info, Dizzy, Health

I’ve had a lot of tests for my health issues, which include dizziness, migraines, fatigue, nausea, impaired cognitive function, stuttering, and did I mention fatigue? I’ve got a few other symptoms, but these are the ones that most dramatically have impacted my life. Only one test came back positive, and that was for something that is reportedly unrelated to all this, indicating that, like about 70% of the population, I’m susceptible to fainting under duress. This adds to what I’m jokingly calling my “delicate constitution.” (This was said by someone in my Tweet stream, and I can’t find the original tweet. Tweetdeck has been unreliable with Favoriting them. Speak up if it was you!)

As I’ve posted before, I’ve got a diagnosis by default, at least in my opinion. I’m on my second and third preventative medication and it’s been wreaking havoc on my system. The second has been ineffective to providing real relief and has given ridonkulous side effects. The third preventative added what I called the “drunkies” as I’ve mentioned before. I have mostly adapted to the meds and am waiting to see if there is improvement, then I’ll wean off the other meds and just take this one.

To be honest, with all the medication in my system, many of them having dizziness as a side effect, I don’t know how much is me and how much is resulting from taking the pills. The neurologist suggested taking Migrevent, which is an herbal remedy that has shown great promise. As my finger twitches over the “Add To Cart” button, I find myself hesitating. If I add it to the mound of pills I’m currently taking, including this new preventative, how will I know which is effective? I’ve already decided that if this latest doesn’t work that I’m going off preventatives for a period of time to get a feel for what my symptoms are naturally. I doubt my neurologist will agree, but it seems foolish after a year not to, since I’ve found no relief.

So my dilemma is, do I follow his recommendation and try the herbal remedy or do I wait until after I see the effectiveness of what I’m already on? If Migrevent does end up being the winner, I don’t want to be taking two other pills unnecessarily. Especially since their side effects are … shall we say, extremely uncool. This is the reason for the dilemma after all – wanting to know that I’m taking exactly what is working without extra meds tagging along.

I’ve always been one to avoid medications because of all the side effects and damage they can cause, and I am currently taking 15 pills a day, 16 every other day. I went from taking two pills a day (vitamins)  a year ago to 15/16 a day! And I have to split them into 4 times a day, so I feel like I’m constantly taking pills. If I add the Migrevent, that’s 2 more. 18 pills a day? No thanks. (Note: Not all of the meds are for migraines. After all this started, I now have high cholesterol and a Vitamin D deficiency so am taking stuff for those issues, too.)

Now, I’m extremely grateful for modern medicine AND my insurance company, but I find this situation to be a bit ridiculous. I even had to break down and buy one of those 7 day pill reminder cases, and as of my last appointment I can just barely fit all the pills in it. It makes me feel older than my gray hair, but I was unable to keep track of things with my memory issues and “brain fog” becoming more and more prevalent.

The end result is that I’ve not ordered the herbal yet. It’s expensive and I don’t want to pay for it before I am ready to take it. Hubby seems to be in agreement, although he just wants improvement for me as quickly as possible. But as long as this has gone on, I also need to think of the big picture and my life down the road.

I know some folks with migraines, has anyone tried or heard of Migrevent? It has CoQ10, Butterbur, Riboflavin and Magnesium. All of them reportedly show improvement in migraines, so I’m hopeful that the quadfecta (is that even a word?) will be even more effective.

Saying Yes to Exercise and No to NaNo

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Books, Dizzy, Exercise, Health, Hobby, No Whining, Work

It’s National Novel Writing Month, which is a program that tries to get folks that want to write a novel motivated enough to put aside excuses and start writing. There are a few general rules, but it boils down to solo writing a minimum of 50,000 words of a new story in 30 days. It’s held every November and you can find much more information and still join at www.nanowrimo.org. And don’t fret about already being behind. There’s no such thing as being ahead or behind, in my opinion. It’s too easy to catch up or fall behind to either beat yourself up or take it easy. Just keep writing and don’t stress about word counts.

It’s a fantastic program, with tons of support, tips and advice available on their forums. I participated in 2008 and 2009, having won in 2009. By the way, winning simply means that you were able to write 50,000 words. I cannot recommend this adventure highly enough. Many write to have a novel to publish or podcast, but mine was purely cathartic. I will never show the novel to anyone other than my hubby, but it is still something I’m extremely proud of having written. It healed some uglies on my inside, which was the point.

This year, between college courses, doing freelance work for Patrick McLean, managing my health issues and a household, my schedule is very tight and I’m very behind on everything. That is why I decided over a month ago that I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo. Then I got this idea for a story that has been tinkling in the back of my mind, nearly constantly. I decided to try NaNo, even though knew that I wouldn’t win. There’s just not enough time. I figured any words I got down by tapping into the collective community support would be a win in my situation. Besides, I won last year when I was just starting down the path of finding out what my illness was, so why not?

Why not? Well, in my time calculations, I left out exercise. My work outs take a big toll on my day. The exercise time itself isn’t so bad, but the recovery time after I exercise is the big time suck. I’m dizzy, migraine-y and extremely fatigued so I just grab a tall cool drink and relax until the extreme symptoms pass. It can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours for this to happen before I can resume my day. On rare occasions, it doesn’t pass and my day is shot, other than being proud of myself for the workout.

My total exercise time includes stretching, anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour on the street or up to 90 minutes on the recumbent bike (when I’m too dizzy to run, I just hold on and pedal), stretching after, the Hundred Push-Up Challenge, core stretches and 100 or more crunches. This is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I take long neighborhood walks (3 mile minimum), do arm weights and floor work (stretches/crunches/core work). I try and do a long walk at least one day on the weekend, but that rarely works out with our busy schedule of late. If anything is planned for the afternoon or evening I just can’t risk having to cancel if my symptoms don’t clear up.

I follow this schedule as closely as I can. On average, I have to cancel a workout a few times a week because of a migraine or dizziness that has me nauseous. Last week, I only worked out four days instead of the planned six. Because of the unpredictable variable, I give my all when I work out, reminding myself that it may be the last one for several days.

I am nearly ALWAYS dizzy after a workout, sometimes leading to a migraine and/or extreme fatigue and sometimes not. This is the reason I gave up going to the track. It’s not safe to drive after I exercise because of the dizziness, so I only do neighborhood workouts now.

Now, I did attempt some writing on Monday, which was the start of NaNoWriMo. I spent most of the time researching my naming convention for my characters but did manage to get a little over 200 words down. I was happy for that, as I needed to get the image down before I forgot it. Migraine had me put it away at that point.

Yesterday was extreme dizziness and migraine, so I missed class and skipped exercise. No words written as any amount of time on the computer and the bright glow from it spiked the brain pain and the meds were completely useless. I was starting to stress over getting even my reduced goals met. It occurred to me that I could regain some time for writing by cutting back on exercise. When I realized that was the only way to find writing time, I knew it was time to walk away from NaNo this year. Exercise is the only thing that brings me any sense of normalcy right now. Even though it has gotten to extreme levels of illness, my doctor fully endorses it and believes as I do that improving my overall health will make my life better.

I still have some writing to do before I put it away. There are some scenes that I’ve got to get typed up before I forget them. And I would like to name all the characters, as I think that will help give them flavor as I give the story itself time to simmer away in the back of my mind.

As I planned a few months ago, I’ll likely pick a month in the Spring as my own personal NaNoWriMo. November is hell for this type of thing, in my life anyways, with the holidays so close that you can taste them. And plan for them. And clean for them. And decorate, and stress, and… you get the idea.

Reply in the comments if you’d like to write along with me in the Spring. April has thirty days, right?

Whoa… Dude… New Meds

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Health

The meds the neurologist prescribed require a ramp up, and I’m finding it very hard to function. When I took the first one, I felt woozy and off balance which is what he warned me of. It took a couple days but I acclimated and felt fine. On Monday I had to increase to two pills a day and I’ve not yet acclimated. I call it “the drunkies” and they persist for nearly the entire day.

I wake up and have to take a dose and don’t feel clear headed enough to do anything until around the time the next dose is due. I’ve not been able to get more than 4 or 5 hours of work done since Monday and I’m woefully behind at school as well.

I did a look up on what I’m taking and it’s pretty interesting the likely side effects I may get:

Drowsiness; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; headache (Hilarious. These first four are why I need the meds); shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control; double or blurred vision; unsteadiness; anxiety; memory problems; strange or unusual thoughts (I’m going to need a ruling on this one.); unwanted eye movements; nausea; vomiting; heartburn; diarrhea; dry mouth; constipation; weight gain; swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; back or joint pain; fever; runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms; ear pain; red, itchy eyes (sometimes with swelling or discharge).

Some of these sound downright sexy, no?

No.

And I’m supposed to increase the dosage again on Saturday. I’m not surprised that side effects include the symptoms I’m taking the meds for since all the meds prescribed since this started have had them listed. But the degree is bordering on the ridiculous.

It also continues with the suicide and depression warnings. Great. I don’t have enough social anxiety, now my meds add to it as well.

Can you help? Maybe. If you see me holding a big knife in a suspicious way, there may be cause for concern. But most likely it’s because Andrea’s baked a carrot cake and I’m itching to get some. (ZOMG, such a tasty birthday breakfast!)

So, what was I talking about? Right, meds. When clear-minded, I notice that I should not be posting anything, anywhere on-line because I’m writing like someone that’s drunk. I will try and correct this, but make no promises when Ms. Drunkie McDrunkerton comes around.

My initial thought is to dump the pills, but my doctor said we need to give four to six weeks for acclimation and to allow the medicine to get to the recommended level in my system to check for effectiveness. All’s I know is, it’s going to be a rough month.

**Edit** I ran this through spell and grammar check a bazillion times after I wrote it last night. Hopefully it makes sense!

Health Update

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, Chooch, Dizzy, Health, No Whining

My neurologist appointment this morning went well. I’ve seen a general decrease in the severity of the migraines, but the number remains the same and the dizziness has increased. We talked for a long while about the effectiveness since the dosage increase, along with the side effects that I’m dealing with and we made a few changes. He’s lowering the dosage back down and adding a new medication, one that we hadn’t discussed before now. The side effects it may present are much more tolerable than what I’m dealing with now. Unless I have a bad reaction I’ll be weaned off the old and increase the dosage of the other until I’m only taking the new stuff.

We also discussed alternative medicine options again and all in all, I’m happy with the new treatment plan. At this point, I’m not expecting to have a treatment that will make everything “normal” again. I just want something that allows more … just more.  I’m feeling generally limited in what I can do, and yes I realize how good my life is and how lucky I am in nearly every way. It doesn’t mean I can’t want more. Every time I get excited about some new physical activity that I want to try I have to remind myself that I will have, at the very least, limitations on how far I can push myself. Have no doubt, I will do it, I just have to be cautious.

Back to the doctor in six weeks, to see how the treatment is going. My only real concern is that these changes will muck with my ability to drive to class. Luckily, the instructor has already promised to work with me if this happens, which gives me great relief.

For those new to my blog, I’ve had severe dizziness, migraines, fatigue, etc.,. for almost a year. I’ve been unable to return to full time work, and my civil service job is gone. (My bosses were fantastically supportive, but they do have a mission to accomplish and need an ass in the seat doing the job.) After a plethora of testing, which ruled out a multitude of horrors including MS, cancer, brain hemorrhage, Lyme disease, etc., I’ve been diagnosed with vestibular migraines and neurocardiogenic syncope. Basically translates to – a tired and dizzy chick that gets migraines and may faint.

I’m continuing the search for treatment that will allow more normalcy so I can return to the work force, and instead of waiting around for that to magically happen, I’m taking two classes this semester towards better employment when I am well enough to work again. One is online and the other is easily converted to online, to accommodate my symptoms and inability to drive while dizzy.

I’m also pissed enough at the hard lost weight that has returned that I recently got moving again by re-re-re-starting the Couch to 5k running program, but I only do it when Chooch can go with me because I am typically pretty sick at the end of it.

On an unrelated note, I saw Christmas stuff being laid out in the stores already. Does anyone else wonder where 2010 went?

One Of The Things You Don't Want To Hear Your Neurologist Say…

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Health

… “You’re a challenge.” He was referring to the conundrum of trying to figure what to do next to try and relieve my symptoms since I’m not seeing an improvement in my symptoms.

After discussing the alternatives and my other health issues, my neurologist is not interested in switching me to either of the other two standard treatment options. He felt it was just too risky at this time with the likely side effects that could have an extremely detrimental impact on my health. So, that leaves us with increasing my current prescription again. I return in six weeks to discuss progress, and he is going to do some research to determine alternative treatment options.

I’m happy to report that he suggested a natural alternative, which I’m definitely exploring. He was also supportive when I questioned him about acupuncture. Three cheers for a modern doctor! I only say that because I have previously only encountered hesitancy from doctors on alternative solutions.

He was also very supportive of the exercise program I’ve begun, and I’m very to say that will continue. The amount of energy I have on Couch to 5K days is not something I will easily give up. In spite of how sick I usually feel afterwards, it makes me very happy to be in motion again. I regret all the skipped workouts and half-hearted attempts in the past, now that I’ve been limited for so long.

And with all the changes we’re facing, we’ve decided to register for a 5k in November. There is no way to predict if I will be dizzy or in pain, and may have to be a no-show. I have no idea if I’ll even be able to finish it. I do know that having a race on the horizon will keep me on track with my goals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Family, Health, Kids, Our Kids

I wasn’t going to post this yet, but decided to after breaking down at the store today. What better way to purge but to write a blog? I did promise myself when I started this that it would be my true journal, if not specific it would at least document the “big” things going on in my life.

And no, there is no great tragedy here. My oldest son, jokingly known as Naughty Bear after a game of the same name, is getting his own place, has a job lined up, and will continue to take a full course load at his school. It’s all great stuff for him, and I could not be more proud or happy for him as he takes more steps into the world as an adult.

The only drawback? He’s moving out of state to the same area where his brother, known here as L.T., lives with his father, step-mother and the kids they’ve had since they married. This puts both of my sons approximately 1100 miles away, while my step-son remains 2600 miles away. This makes me a very sad panda.

He’s decided to move there for the same reason that L.T. moved there a little over a year ago. His younger siblings are growing up, and he’s missing out on experiencing it. This fact was brought home to him when L.T. returned for his summer break and we all marveled at his height and newly deepened voice.  I do not begrudge either of them the experience of deepening their bonds with their younger siblings and father. I’m simply pissed that it has to happen at the sacrifice of my selfish desire to spend time with them.

We’ve talked at length about it, and yes, I’m being extremely supportive positive and helping out where I can find ways to. He’s such a caring young man, and has even confessed that he thinks our relationship is better than ever. Our frank and occasionally uncomfortably honest conversations have bonded us even more closely, as we’ve all expressed. I’m thrilled to have this newly defined bond with him since he moved out after graduation to attend college.  However, it also makes his move extra painful for this selfish and wimpy mom.

After all, he’s my first child, and the first to forever change my heart and the way it loves, as only a child can. Having him nearby was the only thing that got me through the initial pain of L.T. leaving last year. Yes, my husband is an incredibly loving and supportive man, and we joke about our dog Kaylee being our ‘baby girl’, but come on, we’re talking about our babies.

So, if I seem to be struggling in recent and coming weeks, try and bear with me. He’s leaving in about three weeks, right before my birthday, and I’m wearing my Brave Face for him until then. That may crack from time to time with friends, so if I get too maudlin, know that my feelings will not be hurt if you get sick of it. Hells, I get sick of it so why shouldn’t you?

I’ve also started back to college on a very light schedule. I’m taking one online course and one course at the campus. That class was contingent on a discussion with the instructor, and her assurance that she will make allowances for classes that I have to miss due to my illness. She is a fellow migraine sufferer, fully understands my situation and will be flexible with me when I am unable to drive to the campus.

While I’m excited about this step in a new direction, I’m more terrified than anything. I’m scared that having to work around my newly acquired forgetfulness, inability to hold a thought, migraines, fatigue and inability to tolerate (physical and emotional) stressors will cause me to do poorly. The classes aren’t free, after all, and I don’t want to waste our money on failing a class. After long and encouraging discussions with my husband, I’m going for it, and will work hard to do well and maintain the very high GPA that I now hold.

So, that’s most of what’s going on with me. How *you* doin’?

Back in the Saddle Again, Metaphorically Speaking.

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, Chooch, Dizzy, Exercise, Health, Kaylee

If you’ve been reading about my health issues here, then you know how disgusted I am with the recently lost weight starting to creep back. I started walking again a few months ago, but it has been hit or miss. I get so dizzy that I don’t like to go by myself, and it was too much of a time investment for Chooch in the mornings before work. Yes, it has to be in the morning since he frequently doesn’t get home until 8 or 9 p.m., too late for us.

I’ve not been able to get started on any other work out plan, because I don’t enjoy anything as much as I enjoy running. Period. So after a lot of thought, I decided to re-start the Couch to 5k program, again using Robert Ullrey’s podcast. This will be the third time, and I really enjoy it. Chooch and I both had a lot of success with the slow ramp up of running time, so I broached him about doing it with me. Partially because I know he’s frustrated, and partially because of my fear of running alone. He was hesitant because of some issues with his previously sprained ankle, but otherwise jumped at the idea.

We’re on our third week now, and I am loving it. We spend more time huffing and puffing than talking, so I miss that aspect of the change from walking to running. But I just love having the time with him regardless of what we’re doing. We take Kaylee along and she is getting conditioned along with us. She loves it, and has gotten very well-behaved on the runs. Okay, so she still goes crazy if a bird, cat or squirrel get close to us, but otherwise she’s doing great. She  hardly reacts when passing barking dogs or other runners/walkers now.

Even though it’s Week 3, we re-started Week 2 since weather and special projects prevented us from doing the 3rd day last week. We are also both dealing with sore ankles from previous sprains. We are babying them, but don’t intend to stop unless there is actual pain.

I am okay for about the first half of the run, but somewhere around the midpoint I usually get dizzy. It increases to the point of nausea almost every time, but I’m not stopping. Truth is, I’ll be dizzy either way, and this feels way better than not moving does. Plus, I take great pride in the fact that we’ve fully completed each session.

I’ve not had much weight loss, only about 5 pounds, but I don’t care. I’m converting fat to muscle, my heart is pumping, it helps with stress management and I feel like I’m less of a shut-in when I do it. Yes, I’m dizzy for hours afterward. Yes, I still get migraines. I don’t expect this to really help my migraine issues, but by improving my overall health I am giving my body a treat unlike any other. I’m also enjoying more energy during the day, which is major since I’ve had near constant fatigue along with this entire health dealie. Not as much as before, but more than I’ve had for months.

I’m so grateful to Chooch for going with me on the runs. He pushes me to speed up when I’m struggling just to maintain my speed, all the while keeping a watchful eye to make sure I don’t push too hard. If I had been solo, I would have started Week 3 even though I wasn’t ready, but he insisted we do Week 2 again. He was right, but don’t tell him I said so, m’kay?

Can I Get A Prescription For That?

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Friends, Health

Conversation with my doctor:
Her: You have to remove as many stressors as possible from your life, whether it’s people or situations. It’s damaging your health.
Me: Working on it.

The worst part of my migraines should be the part that I can’t control. You know, doing everything I’m supposed to and still not being able to go to work. Or the financial impact of what my inability to get to work has caused. And yes, I’m having to wave “bye bye” to my secure government job due to the length of the diagnosis and search for effective treatment. *

I’m actually finding that the most challenging part is limiting “voluntary” stressors, primarily in social situations. In recent months, I’ve found that others’ negativity has a measurable impact on me, so I literally have to avoid it. Otherwise, whatever  symptoms I’m dealing with intensify and I’m down and out until it feels like passing.

So I’m initiating some changes in my life, one of those is actually trying to express myself as issues arise instead of holding them in. In my family, I’ve frequently been the “peace maker” or “diplomat”, trying to soothe ruffled feathers. Being the one to ruffle them is messy, and I’ve already learned that I own some responsibility for the effects of things having occurred in the past. Not for the hurtful event, but rather letting it fester in me without addressing it and ensuring that it stops.

I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support, but I’ve also had my words and intentions twisted. I’m not wasting my time on that, and I’ll happily take the “rainbows and sunshine” smart-ass remarks. So far, it’s been a pretty damned good indication of those influences I need to distance myself from, at least for now.

I know a lot of people that are able to have intelligent, thoughtful and fascinating conversations without tearing other people down. I happily spent most of the weekend with a lot of people like that. And not surprisingly I find those to be the people that I have the most fun with. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re around a person that is constantly tearing down other people it’s only a matter of time before they start in on you. If they haven’t already.

And just what do you think the odds are of that?

*For any of you kind and wonderful people that may think there should be a chip-in or fundraising effort, please know that we do not want it. We are blessed in our life, and prefer efforts be helped that are more critical. Hungry kids, cancer cures, homeless shelters, paying down YOUR credit card balance…  there are so many other places to send your money!

A Lesson Relearned

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Health

Writing my blog post for Balticon took longer than it should because I write here for me. My memory is full of suck lately, whether due to the health issues or the medication or both. I forget things. A LOT of things. So I take extra time to write things out, and when I’m doing this in a blog I try really hard to give links for the cool people or things I’ve seen. This leads to a lot of searching, which leads to a lot of reading as things catch my eye. While doing this I discovered further proof that Dave Slusher is a really cool guy. I’m not saying this as a podcast fangirl, because I only found out after Balticon that he even has a podcast. Yes, I’m that clueless…

I first chatted with Dave at Dragon*Con 2009, but I was told we actually met at Balticon 2009. I didn’t recognize him because he had been wearing the Mexican wrestler mask that is the key component to his Señor Muerte costume. Not having much time with him in Atlanta, he did make enough of an impression on our evening that Rich, Susan, Chooch and I developed the “Dave Slusher Temperature Scale” and it involved a body part that I won’t mention at this time. Because I’m a lady.

I got to spend some real time in conversation with him at this year’s Balticon, and I just can’t say enough nice things about the guy. At every instance, he was smart, funny and thoughtful with an edge of irreverence around his really big heart.

I found his Evil Genius Chronicles podcast and blog just as hubby said I would, for the usual “clicky linky” opportunity for my readers. My eye was pulled to a blog he posted last year before Dragon*Con, and as I read I found a paragraph that really touched me. It’s the kind of behavior I’ve been striving towards for a while, although I’m far from where I want to be, as a part of my desire to push negativity away and embrace positivity. I’ll be damned if Dave didn’t put my own thoughts down in his blog, in better words than I could have.

An excerpt from Dave Slusher’s “Dragon*Con and the Geek Hierachy“:

“I don’t do nearly enough volunteering and charity in my life, something I need to fix. However, here’s a small thing I do that costs me exactly nothing in time or energy. It actually saves me time and energy. I don’t make fun of anyone at Dragon*Con for anything. Not even for smelling funny, being awkward and completely inept socially, for wearing costumes that are age and/or weight inappropriate, for saying dumb things. I don’t care. This is a long, cold, shitty, lonely life and if dressing up like the green belly dancer girl from the original Star Trek or pretending you are a fictional super-heroine makes your life a little better, have at it. Moments of true joy are hard enough to come by in this world. If wearing funny clothes or putting on an accent that you haven’t practiced enough or acting like a complete spazz makes you feel better, do it with my blessing. Don’t knock me over, don’t harsh anyone else’s mellow, be a good steward of the space carved out to allow you this freedom and don’t deprive anyone else of the same, and then we are cool.”

It seems simple, doesn’t it? Akin to the Golden Rule and something we learned in elementary school.  How did we get so far from it? Speaking for myself, I know that at recent events I slipped right into a lifelong habit of teasing when I was with my family. That’s just the way we’ve always interacted. I realized that I really don’t like myself when I’m like that, and didn’t even realize I had joined in on it.

I find myself rededicated to cleaning up my words and actions after reading this. It won’t be easy, because old and sarcastic habits die hard.

So thanks, Dave! I’ve even printed out the portion that I put in bold type and have hung it next to my desk. In Comic Sans, natch.

Balticon 44 Part 3 (Final) – Sunday and Monday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Sunday was an extremely rough day with dizziness, disorientation and migraine but in hindsight I’m lucky it was the only full day of it. Still, I missed a hell of a lot of amazing things and I can’t wait for all the recordings to hit the feeds.

Chooch slept in, so I headed out solo. I started the day right by grabbing lunch with P.G. and Christiana, again at Baja Fresh. We chatted about a variety of things and it was the kick-start I needed to get my brain energized and ready to tackle the day. I can neither confirm nor deny that there was plotting for Balticon 45.

I finally made it to the Dealer’s Room, sort of. I actually only made it to the Dragon Moon Press table, where the paparazzi was in full effect. In other words, a group of us were standing all in a group so pictures were snapped. Did I mention that I love my friends?

Sadly, farewells began again on Sunday, as Doug “Geek Acres” Rapson departed. I had missed the DS Breakfasts because I ended up on an opposite schedule, and found that we really didn’t have much time to catch up. I made a point of finding him in the lobby before he left and am very glad I did. Somewhere there are pictures, but I can’t find them right now on Flickr and I don’t have any in my sets 🙁

There were so many folks in the lobby, that I ended up spending quite a bit of time there chatting with folks and gathering more author signatures for the books we had picked up over the last year. It was at this time that I discovered my ability to summon J.R. Blackwell by simply tweeting her name! Sadly, this only appears to work while at Balticon since my subsequent attempts have failed.

Happily I was given a spot on the schedule to record an episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. I took advantage of some of the amazing authors at the con by asking Philippa Ballantine, J.R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis and Mur Lafferty to join me. Color me surprised, they all agreed! I was not feeling my best, but was energized by the panelists and the full audience. I found the discussion to fascinating as the women gave their different points of view and experiences as female authors and podcasters. Yes, I’m extremely biased but have gotten the same opinion from others. I was also encouraged by the support they gave the project and look forward to living up to their kind words. I haven’t posted it yet because the file we got from the official equipment was only two minutes long. Luckily, Chooch had recorded it with our H4N but he’s been working on improving the audio as much as possible before posting.

I completely fell apart shortly after the panel from relief, dizziness and then my brain just went *POOF*. I ended up grabbing dinner at Outback with Chooch, Jett, Helen, Patrick, P.G. and Zach. It was a great time and fascinating conversation, but I did have  some disorientation, confusion and fatigue. I was really having trouble following the conversation at times, and formulating responses. I was just keeping my mouth shut for the most part as my dear friends and husband knew something was up already, and I didn’t want to worry anyone.  I had resigned myself to napping as soon as possible, as that is one thing that sometimes gives relief. I bumped into Bruce Press and his AMAZING family, and let me just say that if any of them ever want to show you a picture of something they found in their hotel room you should RUN, not walk away.

Having a solid meal helped, so in spite of how I was feeling I went to the Grow Up New Media panel. I was curious to see how this panel went, as there was talk about it being very caustic towards podcasters that are supportive of new media productions regardless of their “quality”. I was intrigued by this because, if true, it didn’t seem to take the purely personal opinion of the podcaster in the hot seat into account. Who’s to judge that something I enjoy is “bad”? Chooch and I already only support podcasts and novels that we enjoy, and only minimally promote things purely out of friendship.

In I went braced for insults, and instead got hit in the face by logic I couldn’t really argue with from Evo Terra. And it was on the subject of the annual NaNoWriMo program. He pointed out that the point of NaNoWriMo is to see if you are able to write a novel, and questioned why someone that won would need to do NaNo again. If you have already proven you can, then just write another novel. Simple, right? I had been on a panel the day before discussing NaNo and my possible plans to do it again in the future. Add to that the fact that I haven’t even finished my first edits on the one I wrote last year, and I now have a lot to think about. Judge me all you want, the community support for NaNo participants is addictive and having a deadline with public accountability definitely helped to keep me motivated.

I hit rock bottom about halfway into the panel, and headed back to take a nap in our room. Chooch headed off to Living Proof, a meet-up with home brewers and ale connoisseurs held by Thomas “cmdln” Gidon and John Taylor Williams. This was one of the many conflicts for me over the weekend, because in spite of my dislike for beer of any kind I happen to genuinely adore Thomas and John. Sleep won out so I napped until eleven or so, and I’m really glad I did.

Chooch was staying at Living Proof longer than we had planned, so I headed over to Books and Braun solo. I still felt pretty disoriented and wandered around a bit in a daze before grabbing a seat. Pip and Tee were giving a hell of a good reading, and even popped the cork to celebrate their announcement of the publication of Books and Braun in 2011! It was going swimmingly until someone in the audience decided to grind the panel to a halt to make a phone call during their show to spread the news. Tee and Pip handled the interruption and resumed the fun. Congratulations to them both as they launch the book and also the newest phase of their relationship. I wish them every happiness that can be found in this world!

I returned to our room and P.G. had some folks gathered for a party. I talked Zach into coming in with me, and felt guilty for doing so as he immediately became the insult gauge for some “jokes”. Yes, I’m very protective of my friends and I wouldn’t have invited him in had I known that would be his greeting. After a brief time he headed out as he had originally planned since he had a very early flight, so we said our goodbyes.

The rest of the party was a lot of fun and I finally got to chat with some friends I really enjoy including Patrick and Brent, to name a few. I even got to meet even more amazing women, including Sheila Dee. If you don’t know who I mean, I’ll be describe her by saying that Evo Terra is lucky enough to be her husband. (She had introduced herself as Evo’s wife, and I told her we needed to shake that description up a bit). She is a real pleasure, and I’m glad we finally had a chance to get to know each other. I briefly chatted with author Gail Carriger, and am really looking forward to reading her highly acclaimed books. I also got to actually meet and chat with Starla Hutchton. I’d heard her name before as two friends had mentioned her beautiful singing voice, and she was also there at the pre-dawn concert Phil gave the night before in the hotel courtyard. As we talked I found out she also has a novel she has been podcasting and based solely on how much I enjoyed our chat, I’ve already added it to my listening pile. That’s saying something because I came out with a much shorter list than in either of the previous two years. After looking at her “Cast” page, I have no idea how I missed hearing about it, as I have several friends on the list as well as following several others’ projects.

The party grew, and the room ended up pretty packed. Since we were on the ground floor we spilled out onto the balcony and stairs. We again welcomed the sunrise in the company of friends, and then headed off to bed.

Favorite Moments:

  • Dave Slusher wearing his Prom King sash.
  • Becoming smitten with Starla’s new baby. Thank you, technology.

Defeats By Nature (Either mine or witnessed by me):

  • Guest Eating Shrub – I witnessed and assisted on the rescue.
  • Slippery Grass of Doom – I witnessed several after my own defeat.
  • Evil Day Star – Me, my roomies, and The Hobo.

Monday

Heartbreak. As awesome as Friday is with the joy of seeing old and new friends, is as crappy as Monday is with the departures of amazing people, most of whom you won’t see until next May.

Visiting in the lobby, that’s what it was all about for me. I didn’t make it anywhere else once I got there, as I was not only saying goodbyes, but also doing brief interviews with women for upcoming Girls’ Rules episodes. There are tons of photos in Flickr as people departed. After several hours, we finally headed out to grab a late lunch at Noodle & Co. with a quite large group.

I was feeling extremely sick, and it was my own fault. I hadn’t eaten anything other than 100 calorie snack bar since the night before and it was after 3 pm before we left the hotel to eat. Once fed, I noticed that Chooch and I weren’t the only ones hoping to extend the experience just a bit longer as folks lingered over their empty plates while chatting. More photos, and pretty much the only real chat time with Scott Philips, Nutty, and Nathan.

I was sad for those that I didn’t get to spend time with, but that’s unfortunately the nature of con attendance. While I was sad to say goodbye to everyone, I was excited to head home because our oldest son cleared his schedule to have dinner with us to celebrate his nineteenth birthday.

As was true after last years’ Balticon and Dragon*Con, as we pulled out of town it started raining. I’m still trying to remember when the rain actually started in 2008…

Favorite Moments:

  • Being pleasantly surprised by someone that I’m no longer very close with, even though it ended up just being fodder for insult by another. Lesson learned once and for all, as I’m now DONE with that endless source of negativity.
  • Holding hands with Baby Seidman, as she was nestled on Carrie’s shoulder.
  • Receiving a lovely purple wildflower that Elf Princess had picked.

Note: While I’ve decided to never take this much time to write a recap post, I have to admit it would have likely been twice as long had I remembered every special moment and genuinely fascinating encounter from the weekend. I want to thank everyone that I interacted with virtually and especially in person over the weekend, because that helped to shape my experience. Whether it was wonderful, unpleasant (yes, there were a few), awkward, inspirational or just a shy moment, I thank you.