Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Burn the Bras?

I'm not sure exactly why, but I've been growing more and more frustrated with bras. I had a bunch that I got from a clearance sale at a department store, and they worked alright but were no longer fitting (and wearing out). So I got some more at an outlet store. And they fit fine in the store, but less fine after being worn for two to four hours.

At this point in my life, if it weren't for work, where I feel that wearing a bra is part of a professional outfit, and working out, where I need some compression to keep from bouncing too much, I probably wouldn't wear bras at all. I don't like how they feel - not the support, which is fine, but the straps on the shoulders and the band in the back, the foundation of the support.

I wear a sports bra for backpacking because without one I get too sweaty. But none of them are very comfortable, and I've had to work hard to find one that works. Unfortunately, the ones that I've been using, some front zip triathlon bras, are all worn out. Not only are the seams coming apart but the zippers are no longer locking in place. So now the hunt is on for a new backpacking bra, and the most important thing in a backpacking bra, for me, is the ability to dry quickly. Somehow, that never gets included on reviews.

Backpacking is the one time that I want to be wearing a bra all the time, because if I don't, then my piercings will get irritated by being pulled around against my shirt. So it needs to be the most comfortable of bras, and it has to dry on my body at the end of the day so I can sleep in it.

For both backpacking and everyday, I'm interested in trying out some shelf bra tank tops. I swear I used to have some that worked pretty well, but they are long gone by now. I thought Costco might have some, but they did not. Instead, I bought a 2 pack of "bra-lettes" that are at least free from hooks, underwire and tags (amazing how many bras have itchy tags - are they not aware fabric can be printed on?).

The bralettes are working well enough that I might buy another 2 pack, but I really want to find those shelf bra tank tops, because the version in my mind has wide straps, like 2 inches. The one new bra I bought for backpacking has extra wide straps and when I put it on it hardly feels like I'm wearing anything. Perfect really, but that just makes me want to save it for backpacking and not "use it up" on every day wear. Because now that I like it, the manufacturer will surely discontinue it, which is why I dare not type its name.

I'm not opposed to bras in general, but I am heartily frustrated with them at the moment. Not enough to burn them, but enough that I'm actively looking for bra alternatives.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Health Bits

I've been feeling frustrated because while the low residue diet has made me feel better in general, I'm still having mysterious abdominal pains. But I need to look on the bright side. Because there have been improvements, even if I've been focused on the not-improving parts.

So. I haven't had daily nausea. I've actually had very little nausea since starting the low residue diet and when I do have it, it's fleeting rather than a constant sensation that leaves me woozy and desperate to get it to stop.

I'm not in constant tummy pain. I've still got some pains that crop up, though I don't think it's all gastrointestinal pain. I can recognize when I've got gas pain, and, to me, it's a particular type of pain. It feels like a balloon blowing up inside, pressure and squeezing. I also get these sharper pains, and sometimes a prickling, but those feel like they are more in my skin than my insides - like above the layer of my muscles.

There's still frustration that I'm not losing weight. I kind of hoped that after the antibiotics I might see some weight loss. But - on the bright side - I'm no longer gaining weight. I'll take a leveling off over a steady creep upwards. Part of that frustration is that the heavier I get, the harder body weight movements become and I don't want to lose my pull ups. And some of my pants are getting tight to the point where I don't want to wear them or wear them with the button undone.

I am doing overall much better than before starting the low residue diet. I just need to keep being patient and focus on the improvements.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Tidbits

Well, I got another cold/flu/crud thing last week. I'm choosing to blame my boss, who stayed home some days last week to take care of sick family and also when he (inevitably) also fell sick. And my husband caught whatever it was from me. So instead of starting to evaluate how I felt based on the low residue diet once the antibiotics should have had some effect, I was just ... sick.

Now, I'm done with the antibiotics and mostly over the illness. Not entirely pain free, but it's a pain that is much more manageable than what I'd had before taking the antibiotics. And it's intermittent rather than constant. So there is improvement, but I don't have a verdict yet as to whether I've truly benefited or not.

I started to track my foods so that I could get an idea of what worked, but when I got sick I kind of fell off the tracking bandwagon. I even stopped tracking bowel movements, though I know I did have at least one per day. It just wasn't as important to track. Now, I really should get back to tracking both of those, along with pain symptoms again so I can get a good sense of how I'm doing. My next doctor appointment will be in June and I really hope that I can be in a good place by then.

It makes so much sense that I would have felt better while backpacking, because unless we really work at it, most of our backpacking food is low fiber. And rather than three large meals a day with a few snacks, we snack a lot and have smaller "big" meals three times a day. Kind of. I mean, breakfast is now tending towards being a bar and some jerky on the move, and lunch isn't all that big. Dinners are relatively big, but not huge. I'm looking forward to backpacking season now, because I feel like I'll be able to handle my body better, knowing what I know now.

Work is slower this time of year, and I'm working on handing off projects I would normally do myself to one of my direct reports. He is supposed to be learning how to do the things that I do, so even though I want to do all the things, I have to learn to let go and allow him to learn. It's a process that I'm trying to embrace.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Diagnosis!

So, my new gastro person decided that we should do one more test, just to make sure that my issue was not being caused by something, even though I didn't fit the typical profile for that condition. I did the test last Tuesday, and on Wednesday, I got a call from the gastro office telling me that I needed to schedule a follow-up appointment.

I was expecting, after all these tests with non-abnormal results, another call with a message about how the results were fine. The call for an appointment kind of freaked me out. And the appointment I scheduled wasn't until April 12, so I had no idea what was going on with the test, but I wasn't reassured.

Technically, though, I would have access to my imaging results through an online service in a week, so I wasn't all that freaked out. I had patience enough to wait a week to know the results.

And then, on Saturday, I got a letter in the mail from the gastro office. I thought it would be a bill, so I wasn't very excited to open it. Instead, I unpacked groceries first, and put everything away, and then I got around to reading what turned out to be a very short letter from the physician's assistant I had been seeing.

Turns out, I have mild delayed gastric emptying, a diagnosis that not only explains the nausea and abdominal pain, but that also explains why I've been getting worse. (Delayed gastric emptying means that food doesn't leave my stomach at a normal rate; my stomach is slow to empty.) Because it turns out that for IBS, they recommend increasing fiber and avoiding high "fodmap" foods. But when there's delayed gastric emptying, the diet plan is low fiber to reduce what my stomach needs to process.

My diagnosis of IBS was making things worse, and it took me two and a half years to get the test that showed what the actual problem is. This test was not complicated or difficult. It did involve not eating or drinking for long stretches of time, not the most comfortable, but not anywhere near as uncomfortable as colonoscopy prep. I have to ask myself why this test didn't come sooner, but I have a feeling it's because I'm not underweight, and gastroenterologists in general don't believe that delayed gastric emptying can happen without malnutrition. 

I'm still taking the antibiotics I was prescribed by the PA for possible small intestinal bacterial overflow; this is a condition that can happen with both IBS and delayed gastric emptying. I'm not feeling very well on the antibiotics, but I'm committed to finishing the course. Even though my husband is getting frustrated because I'm not eating very much. And I'm frustrated because my stomach hurts.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and a plan of action to deal with what my actual problem is.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Writing Habits

I did go ahead and submit the story I finished recently for publication, but I got a pretty quick rejection. Which means I should just submit it again somewhere else, but I'm not really sure where that story might fit, so I have to research places to submit since I haven't been submitting stories very much at all in the last couple years. Mostly because I haven't been writing them.

I haven't been writing much in the last couple weeks either. After all that energy on the one story, I fell off, even though I've got one more to finish and another that I just barely started. I need to figure out a better way to get myself sitting and writing. It isn't that writing is difficult, it's more the getting myself in the position to actually do it.

If I didn't have this blog streak alive, I probably wouldn't get much writing done at all. I mean, it's good that I'm at least getting blogs written, that keeps me going. But I need to figure out a way to leverage that habit into writing stories.

And I need to figure out the best way to set myself up for success. My home desk isn't very ergonomic, so I end up getting pretty sore trying to float my wrists in space over the keyboard. I think if I get a little bit of a lift under the keyboard I could do it standing pretty comfortably. I'll experiment.

And I will try to use this blog to push myself. I'm going to finish one story by next week.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New IBS Plan

I finally saw a provider about the abdominal pain that made me feel like I was being taken seriously. The nurse practitioner at the other place and the doctor at this place both made me feel like they thought I was being a hysterical female, allowing my emotions to cause me pain. And if I would just relax, then all this pain would go away because all my organs are just perfectly fine.

Right.

So, this new woman wants me to start from the beginning, so I do. I go over the whole thing and explain my objective of not being in pain all the time. She thinks this is a reasonable thing to want, glory be!

I had read about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) on an IBS forum, and I asked her if it was a real thing and if there were tests and such. She said it was a real thing associated with IBS, and that the tests for it weren't all that reliable. So we're just going to treat for it and see if that improves things. But first, one more test to make sure my stomach isn't holding onto food for longer than it should be. That would be gastroparesis, which I'm familiar with because I work with someone who was diagnosed with that condition. That also means I know what to expect from the test; it isn't a big deal, and I won't have to do the kind of prep that the colonoscopy entailed, thank goodness.

After that test, I can start on the antibiotics that are specific to SIBO, and if they have an effect, I should notice about halfway through the two week course. After that, if I'm still feeling bad, then we try something else. She's got a plan of different things to try, and I was so happy to hear that. It wasn't like the other provider who essentially said I should get more exercise and do yoga, and that I was too fat to be really sick (in so many words).

Part of why I am so eager to figure this out is because the pain is starting to affect my exercise. I have been doing Commitment Crew at Arbor CrossFit for 18 months straight now (that's at least 20 classes a month), plus backpacking in the summer and additional weightlifting accessory work in the off season. And in the last few months, I can feel my tummy swelling and I can feel pain whenever I do something that compresses my abdomen, especially rowing. I want to be able to continue exercising, because I love it. So it frustrates me when a medical type person looks at my weight and height on the chart and assumes I need to exercise more.

But I didn't get that vibe from the new provider. I'm feeling more hopeful, even though Monday, the day I had the appointment, was a pretty bad pain day. I think I'll blame daylight saving time for that one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Story!

Well, it's the start of the third month of the year, and I've finally gotten around to starting and finishing a new short story. Although, to be fair, this story really feels like it could, maybe should, be a much larger work. There's definitely more to the world that wants to come out, but I think I got a beginning middle and end to it.

Now the question is am I going to submit it anywhere? I should. But whether I will or not depends on whether I can convince myself it has a market. It isn't quite fantasy or scifi, which are my typical go-tos when it comes to magazines. And I know one that I've tried to submit to in the past is shuttering soon (Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show - and, to be honest, I'm kind of glad it's shutting down, because I never felt entirely comfortable submitting to it because of his politics).

Ambrose has read through it and concluded that it's actually a pretty okay story in the post-apocalyptic genre. Now I have to figure out which markets might want such a story, starting with the ones that I received personalized feedback from. Although one of those is straight out because of word limits. So I'll start with the other one, and see what happens.

And while that's on submission, I'm close to finishing a story I started last year and the idea for another short one is percolating in my brain. I found myself taking a bit of a cooling off period on writing at the beginning of the year. I was focusing on my health perhaps a bit too much. But now I'm back into the mindset of wanting to write, which means I'll hopefully start getting my butt in the chair and be able to finish my modest challenge of 12 works this year.

I've also wrapped around to getting all of my works published out wide, which means I can update my About page a bit with some new links for Kobo readers. I did end up putting the latest Hike with Me to Amazon exclusively for the first 90 days, but I've got a calendar item all set to put it wide as soon as that term is up. I'm also looking at putting out normal sized print editions of all the Hike with Me books to lower costs for the print editions, but I haven't quite decided if that's worth the effort.