Wrestling with mental and physical health.

Sep 17 2020

This isn't easy for me to write because it involves my mental health.  So, if it's not your bag feel free to skip this post.

Helping my mom since her cancer diagnosis has left me in this peculiar state where I don't actually know what I'm feeling.  I call it "running on wires," as in, the silicon I'm connected to is running me, and the organics are off doing... something, maybe.  My therapist calls it alexithymia, and reading about it that's as good a word for it as any.

I've been fighting with clinical depression for most of my life, ever since my grandmother died in 1987 or 1988.ev (somewhen around fourth grade).  I've been in and out of various forms of therapy for most of my life, and while everything seems to help for a while it never lasts.  I've also been fighting with my body's weight (hang on... my weight) for about as long.  When I get depressed my diet goes to hell in a handbasket, and I know that I've put on some weight during the time I was in Pittsburgh.  I don't know how much because I haven't weighed myself, and I haven't wanted to weigh myself because I don't know how I'd react to seeing just how many pounds I've put on.

Under the cut, discussion of eating disorders.  Punch out if you want.

Chemotherapy begins.

Sep 11 2020

Mom had her first round of chemotherapy last Tuesday.  Early that morning I drove her to the Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC, got her checked in, and had to leave as they took her back because, due to the pandemic and generally immunosuppressed state of the other patients in the office I posed a contamination risk.  I spent most of the day puttering around the house, fixing stuff up, cleaning, and getting a bit of dayjob work done after dropping her off.  Mom spent most of the day hooked up to one IV line or another.  Unsurprisingly, it took some time to get the actual procedure started: Mediports can be used for drawing blood samples as well as administering medications.  However, while it was possible to flush her mediport with saline the doctors weren't able to draw any blood samples through it and they couldn't proceed until they were able to.  As I understand the situation, it required three heparin flushes to un-fuck the catheter, which took roughly 90 minutes.

Mom's oncologist says that each run of chemo has to be compounded specifically to the patient's current blood stats, height, and weight, which is why vitals and blood samples need to be taken every time.  Seems like it's pretty tricky stuff to get right and it gets mixed up immediately prior to administration.  Thing is, if the blood sample takes a while to get, the compounding process takes a while, and and and... this is why cancer patients normally bring lunch and things to occupy their time while they're in the office hooked up.  Once they got things going, though, they started the process off with a prophylactic IV antibiotic (probably to minimize the risk of something already in her system getting any ideas while her immune system is suppressed), IV benadryl (because hypersensitivity to chemotheraputic drugs is a known problem), and an IV dose of an anti-nausea drug before the actual chemo drugs went in.

Quarantine life.

Mar 22 2020

We're rapidly nearing the end of our first month of quarantine due to the covid-19 pandemic.  I've been working from home since the last week of February, which isn't anything particularly new to me because we have mandatory work-from-home days at least once a week at my day job.  Coincidentally, a few days in was when our landlord's scheuled demolition and renovation of the kitchen began.  This meant that we were down three rooms in the house - no kitchen, no dining room, and no living room - due to having to relocate everything.  Lyssa and I also had some amount of stuff in our respective offices, which made life less than fun for a while.  However the kitchen is back online, so we've been cleaning up the aftermath of the construction work and shaking down the new appliances.  Not only do we have more room in the kitchen, but we now have a dishwasher and a sink that's not painfully tiny.  The first pot of coffee and the first dinner were made in our new kitchen on Saturday.

Shopping for supplies in the Bay Area has been both easier and harder than expected.  Easier because people have on the whole been pretty cool toward each other.  No pushing, no shoving, only one instance of almost-violence and that was some weeks ago.  On the other manipulator, it's been harder because just about every shelf has been completely denuded of everything from toilet paper (the butt of many jokes which write themselves) to cleaning agents to vitamin supplements.  It's one thing to hear people talk about this happening, but it's quite another to actually see it in every store you visit.  It's a vicious cycle.  While I don't know for sure I think I can reconstruct the overall pattern of thought here: People are afraid that there will be runs on everything essential, from food to distilled water to stuff they might be running low on (such as salt or dishwashing detergent).  They don't want to get caught out.  So they flock to the stores to stock up on everything before there is nothing left.  Unfortunately, this is the very cause of those shortages.

So it goes.

Some notes on locksport.

Mar 27 2018

A couple of weeks back, as part of our continuing education program at my dayjob I ran a hands-on class on locksport, the quasi-science (perhaps art) of picking locks for fun and... well... fun.  I'm a security wonk so most of the talks I run have some security content in them, but I wanted to do something that was fairly suitable for everyone (coders and not).  So, I got the go-ahead to expense a few more locks and some intro picksets to give away from The Lockpick Shop (no consideration for mentioning or using them, they had what I needed at a good price) and hauled most of my collection of locks and tools to work over the course of a couple of days.

I used the Creative Commons licensed lockpicking village slides from the TOOOL website for my talk after editing them a bit to condense them for time and spent a couple of evenings practicing both my slides and craft to gear myself up for the class.

What follows are some pictures and ruminations I have on the topic of locksport that come from years of playing around with locks (after spending about as long trying and failing to get any locks open) and doing formal and informal sessions on the topic.  Please bear in mind, I'm far from a master of this particular art.  I've competed only once (and pulled a Charlie Brown by picking the lock backwards, thus jamming it at the worst possible time) and, while I recognize that there are some very talented people out there who are into locksport for the sheer artistry of it, I'm not one of them.  I'm a pragmatic lockpicker: I'm on assignment, I need into something, I'm going to pick the lock and get in.  I'm not a spring steel artist.

Okay.  Enough chitchat, here's what I actually wanted to write.

I guess this is a milestone, isn't it?

Feb 09 2018

As I write this, it's roughly a week before my 40th birthday.  I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room tapping away on Windbringer while Lyssa undergoes surgery to remove a cataract from her left (and only working) eye.*  When this post goes live on the day of my actual 40th birthday, more things will undoubtedly have happened.  I don't know how much time I'm going to have in the next few days, so I guess I'd best take advantage of the spare time I have due to how busy I've been lately.

A lot's happened in this past year that I'm still trying to wrap my head around.  My grandfather diedSomebody I knew but wasn't terribly close to committed suicide.  I've been in the hospital and laid up at home a couple of times with strict "Sit on your ass and read comic books while you heal" orders (which, as you've probably already guessed, got boring pretty fast).  Our landlord has begun the process of selling the house we're presently renting, which has introduced no small amount of uncertainty into the short-term future.