Catching Up, Part 3

October 26, 2017

(continuing from last post) When my headaches and wooziness went away a few days after the accident, I thought that was the end of it.

Then we went on a long, exciting trip. I was totally fine the whole time. Absolutely fine. Truly.

Then we came home. Fine for a couple of days.

Then I developed a total personality shift. It still felt like me, and cognitively I was totally all there, so it didn’t occur to me for quite a while that it might be related to the concussion. I also didn’t know that concussive symptoms can have delays of weeks or even months. (How do I know so little about concussions?) Without knowing about delayed symptoms being a possibility, how could I possibly have linked the two?

I was me, except I wasn’t. Impulsive in word and deed. Doing things I wouldn’t normally do. For example, one day I declared that I no longer gave any fucks. We happened to be going out with some acquaintances (unrelated to the concussion), and during our evening out I drank and drank and drank and drank and drank and drank. Six, I think — but the count could be off, because, you know, drunk. Six isn’t insane except that I’m not allowed to drink because of one of RA medicines, which in combination with alcohol can cause liver damage. Except for that night, I haven’t had any alcohol at all since RA started, because I am prudent and an obedient patient. Usually.

Six also wouldn’t be insane except that even when I was allowed to drink, I really barely ever did. In my whole life the number of times I’ve been drunk is in the single digits. Most of my pre-RA adult life, I had a single drink maybe once or twice a year.

I declared to the acquaintances that I wasn’t allowed to drink, but that I was “ALL OUT OF FUCKS TO GIVE” (triumphant swig). Cue excited wooing at the table. Except that were not in the kind of bar where anyone shouts or woos. We were at a bar where grownups act like grownups and calmly sip their fancy $17 drinks. Wooooooo! OUT! OF! FUCKS!

That is not me. That has never been me. Even when I was young enough to act like that, I didn’t.

Unfortunately, that woooo night wasn’t the biggest personality shift.

Another cliffhanger? Yes. I told you the first day I returned that I’d be writing in short, consistent bursts.



Catching Up, Part 2

October 25, 2017

One of the biggest things that’s happened since I saw you last was a car accident.

Headed to work one morning on icy roads (very rare in this city), I was sitting waiting at a red light. A car going too fast skidded on the ice. Even before he started to skid, in slow motion in my mind I could see the trajectory. Then he started to skid and I knew that I was trapped, that he was coming right for me and I didn’t have time to do anything to stop it.

He hit me head on. While I was sitting at a red light. Talk about being easy to prove fault to the insurance companies.

My bumper was cracked, but you couldn’t even see it from some angles, and no other damage to my car. It was the teeniest, tiniest car accident. Seemed like not a big deal. We exchanged insurance info and went on our way. Staying in the same spot where someone else might possibly skid into me seemed unwise.

By the time I got to my parking lot a couple of blocks away, I was a little woozy. But well enough to call the insurance company.

By the time I finished the call and walked into the building, I was very woozy.

I sat for an hour at an annual performance review. The reviewer offered to reschedule for a day when I wasn’t woozy, but I was already there.

Then I decided I should go home and lie down. So I did. As the day progressed, not only was I super woozy, but my neck was seizing up.

The next day I drove myself to the chiropractor. She said, “You have whiplash, plus a closed head injury.” I did not realize that a closed head injury is a concussion. I did not realize I should not be driving myself around. I did not realize I should have gone to the emergency room immediately after the accident. I did not realize I should not have gone to bed when I was woozy the day before, even though throughout my childhood whenever I’d bump my head my mother refused to let me sleep in case it was a concussion… because I did not know I had a concussion.

My neck took many, many months of chiropractor, acupuncture, and massage visits to go remotely back to normal.

The car was fixed a couple of months later, on the other guy’s insurance company’s dime.

The concussion was back to normal in a few days.

Except that it wasn’t.

Another cliffhanger for you. Tune in tomorrow.


Catching Up, Part 1

October 24, 2017

Before we get to the present, a couple of events have happened in the 3.5 years since I disappeared that you should know about.

Work went from bad to worse, to worse than that, to ok, to worse, to fine but weird, to sometimes good, to mostly good.

Because of that, I ran out of fucks to give. I practiced my old Zen non-attachment on my career, which disengaged me but also made it infinitely less painful. Disrespected in a way that has actual impact on me? What else is new, I’ve lost count. Cut out of projects despite being more qualified than anyone else? Just like last time. Huge pay cut? As long as I still have health insurance. Nice new boss fired in major scandal for things I’m pretty sure she didn’t do? Awful, but doesn’t really affect me. A further pay cut? I don’t care if I work here, really, I mean it.

But I do still work there. I love my actual work so much… when the bullshit doesn’t get in the way. The bullshit was getting in the way almost constantly for a couple of years, but now it almost never does (though I still watch my back with almost everyone). The proportion of lovable work to pay-the-bills work has decreased, but I am tremendous at both. I have gotten a little better at making time to work on things that benefit me long-term; I have a long way to go to prioritizing it the way that I should, but getting there.

tl;dr I hate my job, I love my work.

The Return

October 23, 2017

Well, I’m back.

First, my deepest apologies for disappearing from the face of the earth for 3 1/2 years. Seriously. Really, truly. And for not even checking my blog email so that friends’ expressions of concern received no reply. Some of you checked in on me through Lori just to know that I was okay, thanks to Lori for that, and sorry to all of you for not answering directly.

There have been so many times I thought of posting about something, because now, even 8 years after the birth of Burrito and Tamale (8! unfathomable!), infertility comes up in my life all. the. time.

I have periodically lurked on the blogs of some of you. The death of Google Reader was really the beginning of the end of my ability to keep track of my bloggy friends.

As for my abrupt end to blogging, I was indeed very busy trying to juggle work and then-4-year olds and managing RA, but my last blog post exactly coincided with my medication starting to fail in April 2014. That medication worked great for a year and a half, then it suddenly didn’t, at all. Not as bad as the first onset of RA with not being able to stand or do anything whatsoever with my hands, but bad enough that I quit my beloved twice weekly yoga because I couldn’t support weight on my wrists, that I couldn’t turn doorknobs, that I couldn’t pick up children, that I sometimes couldn’t hold a fork to eat.

The replacement medicine worked a little better but never well enough — there were fewer eat-with-my-hands days but far from zero. Worse, the side effects were debilitating: I never had a migraine in my life until that second medication, then developed several per week. Blogging is tough when you can barely use your hands and can’t see straight. (After switching off that medication in 2016, I haven’t had a migraine since.)

After a couple of years of white-knuckling it (get it? knuckles?) I switched doctors from the one with the worst bedside manner in history who believed that I’d never achieve full functioning (How do I know that? Because I heard him dictate it into his note in the next room. Asshole.) to a doctor with outstanding bedside manner who is resolved to get me to a point where I can function, and who switched my medication from the ineffective yet migraine-inducing one to one that has no side effects for me and works pretty well. Well enough that I’m afraid to switch again, lest a new medication have some other horrible side effect. My joints are far from perfect, but most days I can do what I need to do. It might bother me, but I function, and people can’t tell. And there are even days when I almost forget I have RA.

Once I could finally both reliably type and see straight, too much time had passed, and it felt overwhelming to come back to an inbox full of worried messages, and I had both too much to say but so much that I couldn’t say. I finally understood what many people had been saying about not being able to tell others’ infertility stories for them. “I interacted with this person and here’s the deal with their infertility that I found interesting but which has nothing to do with me” is not a reasonable long-term blog format.

But I’m back, and I’m going to post more often (certainly more often than once every 3 1/2 years, but also more often than I did before). About infertility, yes, because it still comes up constantly, and because it deeply affects my current life, more right now than it has in years. But also about other things, about me. Frankly, disclosing about myself is very much not my strong suit in real life, and I’m even worse at expressing the deep emotions rather than only the cerebral aspects, but perhaps in expressing real emotion in blog format, I can get better at doing so in my non-blog life too.

Brevity is also not my strong suit as you have just seen, but moving forward I will try to break things down into shorter posts rather than my usual magnum opus style, fewer shorter blog posts rather than occasional huge posts. At least I’ll try.

Why now? There have been some big recent events which have spurred me to come back, finally, after all this time. You’ll hear about those in subsequent posts. Cliffhanger!

It’s so good to be back, and it’s so good to have someone to talk to again. I’ve missed you. And, even if my babies are nowhere near babies anymore, I’ve missed the Baby Smiling version of me.


Thoughtful ThursdayBurrito and Tamale are really into a few songs right now. One of them happens to mention the word “pray.”

This has led Burrito to keep asking me about prayer. I’ve been telling him:

“Some people pray as a way of talking to G-d or Jesus.”

(Even though he is Jewish, he has heard of Jesus from the aforementioned song as well as random other places, such as medieval art and an ichthys on his preschool teacher’s car.)

“Other people pray as a way of talking to their own minds. In Hebrew, the word for pray is a reflexive verb.”

(Linguistics are clearly way beyond him, but this point is highly relevant to my own conception of prayer, so I mentioned it.)

“Whether or not people believe that anyone else can hear their prayer, they know that they can hear it. Some people are praying to talk to someone else, and some people are just talking to themselves. Just by saying it, you make it more likely that it will become real. In yoga we call this an intention.”

(I know he’s done a bit of mediation in yoga classes, but I’m not sure if there have been any intentions. Very relevant for me, though.)

“There are different kinds of prayers. A lot of prayers are wishes. You could wish that someone sick could become healthy, or you could wish that someone who is having a hard time will get better, or you could wish that something scary will be okay. Other prayers say thank you. When we say ‘Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Borei Pri Hagafen’ we are being thankful for fruits.”

(Technically this blessing on “the fruit of the vine” is for wine, and there’s actually a different Hebrew blessing for fruits, but he knows the wine blessing from synagogue.)

“When we say ‘Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz” we are being thankful for bread. We could be thankful for food, or people we love, or being healthy, or friends, or anything.”

Then Burrito said, “I am thankful for honeydew and cantaloupe and pineapple and cookies. And Mommy and Daddy and Tamale.”

What does prayer mean to you?

Thoughtful Thursday: Planet

February 13, 2014

Thoughtful ThursdayThere’s a meeting that I go to once a month with people who work at all different places. There’s one guy at the meetings who looks like he should be in The Octagon rather than a conference table. Very tall, very muscular, shaved head, menacing goatee. Stoic expression all the time.

One day we went around and said our hometowns. He joked, “Earth.” Another member of the meeting said, “I would have guessed the planet Krypton.”

The big guy said, “Actually, it’s more like Vulcan.”

He goes through life looking like an enforcer, when inside he’s really a brainiac.

My husband’s home planet is even harder to identify, because he’s full of complexity. Even when I first met him, I kept encountering more layers in the onion… and he’s gotten more and more interesting in the almost 20 years since. He’s smart and charming and athletic and warm and snarky. So, you’ll never guess the planet right because no one alien race suffices. Anyone first meeting him will get an accurate sense of him, yet they also have no idea how much more there is. Even our own children have no idea about certain facets of his personality. He’s quite chill with them, but every now and then they’ll get a glimpse of the manic whimsy often displays with me and his friends, and they look at him like he actually is an alien.

With me, I think what you see is pretty much what you get. I haven’t read/seen enough sci-fi to have found a planet of beings like me. Let’s call it Planet BabySmiling. For anyone who was familiar with this theoretical planet, they’d be able to peg me as a BabySmilingite instantly. I’m glad there is no such planet though… I don’t think I could handle more than one of me.

Do people get the wrong impression from the image you portray? Or is what you see what you get?

Thoughtful ThursdayHappy New Year!

Sorry to disappear for a month — so, so busy. It turns out that my promotion brought a 30% pay increase and a 100% work increase. I deeply enjoy my work, but I am not enjoying having this much of it. I am not enjoying staying up working until 3 a.m. once or twice a week in advance of fake deadlines.

I never used to mind, and sometimes used to really enjoy, working super-hard. But I only enjoyed it when it was by my own volition, which is much more palatable than being asked/told to work super-hard.

But, since I’ve been ill, I just can’t push push push like I used to. I still work very hard when I’m working, and I mostly enjoy it once I get started, but I now have a hard time getting started. Sometimes I procrastinate for hours. Which then means that I have to make up those lost hours or work twice as hard in fewer hours. Which means that I do have to push push push after all.

Which perhaps explains why I haven’t blogged in a month. But here I am.

How often do you work really hard? Do you like it?