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About Me

New front in the battle of me vs. entropy

Y’all have doubtless noticed I haven’t released anything in a while. There are reasons for that. A lot of them are political. I, like a lot of other creatives, have been having a bitch of a time trying to muster the will to work on anything since the 2016 election.

But honesty dictates that I note for the record that that isn’t all of it. I have come to realize over the past few years that one of my character flaws is that I get paralyzed if I have too many things I have to organize at once. I wind up looking at all the things I keep meaning to do, and keep never frigging doing them. That, coupled with the world being generally on fire (politically, but if you happen to live on the West Coast, in a lot of cases also literally), has dropped me into a many-months-long bout of “fuck it, I have just enough brain to handle dealing with my day job so I can keep the bills paid and the food bought, and I’ll spend the rest of my waking hours playing Dungeon Boss and Gummy Drop”.

At the end of the day, though, this doesn’t get books written. Or released. And Orycon is coming up. I’ve promised to work a table again with Madison Keller, since they and I make good table partners. But I’ve also run flat out of print copies of Faerie Blood. And Third Place Press is no longer going to have the espresso book machine available–which means I need a new way to produce print copies of Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, and anything else I decide to release.

I’ve also been (grumpily) thinking for some time that it’s stupid that the print copies of my books aren’t available on Amazon. So I’ve been intending for a while to get my print editions up on Amazon for purchase that way. It should help with my discoverability, as well as just making it easier for people to buy books from me without having to track me down in person, or even contact me online.

All of which are good intentions. But y’all know what the road to hell is paved with. See previous commentary re: being paralyzed by too many things I haven’t finished yet. Here is a list of some of those things:

  • New print edition of Faerie Blood
  • Finish Walk the Wards
  • Restart work on Warder Soul
  • Finish the edit pass on Queen of Ghosts (the book formerly known as Queen of Souls)
  • Restart the Bilingual Lord of the Rings Reread
  • Restart the Trilingual Harry Potter Reread
  • Finish the posts I never finished about the trip to Quebec last summer and Camp Violon Trad 2017
  • Finish reviewing all my old Livejournal posts so I can finally delete my Livejournal
  • Pull a lot of my old mail off my Gmail account and onto the murkworks.net mail server
  • Finish porting a lot of old content onto my personal/fannish site, annathepiper.org

And that’s just a partial list of all the projects. There are more. And I got tired of never actually making any progress on them due to my tendency to paralysis.

So I thought about this a bit and realized that at the day job, we tackle big projects via a very loose Agile-ish methodology. Roughly speaking, this means we split big projects down into component tasks, ballpark how long it’ll take to do those tasks, and then plan to do tasks X, Y, Z, etc., in however many two-week sprints it takes to get the project done.

And I thought, “well hell, wouldn’t it be nice if I had some sort of way to do this with personal projects too?”

I’ve never been content with Apple’s Reminders app in macOS and iOS. It’s not really conducive to planning out larger projects. So I researched around to see what other options were out there, and I finally came across a program called Things. It’s available on both macOS AND iOS. And what made me decide to throw money at it was its ability to organize tasks by not only giving each task a date, but also by assigning them to larger projects.

So here’s what the “Third Edition of Faerie Blood” project currently looks like:

Third Edition of Faerie Blood in Things

Third Edition of Faerie Blood in Things

And here’s what I’ve done already:

More Faerie Blood in Things

More Faerie Blood in Things

I’m not going to say this thing has changed my life yet. But I will say that I really like the design of it, and it’s very galvanizing to have a nice list of tasks to check off every day. The Faerie Blood project isn’t the only one I’m working on, either. I’ve got active work going on the deletion of old Livejournal posts, as well as the review and archiving of old email.

Here’s what today’s task list looks like so far:

Things Logbook

Things Logbook

Just being able to have a visual thing to point at, as evidence that I have in fact accomplished things today, makes me feel like I might actually manage to chip away at the mountain of entropy that’s been slamming me down for some time now.

And in summary, if you’re a macOS/iOS person? Things. I recommend it.

About Me

And now, a nose report

I’m now seven weeks after the septorhinoplasty I had done to my nose, so here’s a bit of a checkin as to how I’m doing now!

I had my first fiddle lesson since the procedure yesterday (more on this in another post), and my teacher told me that my voice sounded different to her. This was not a thing I’d been easily able to discern myself, since of course I’m still hearing my voice from inside my head. But Lisa said my voice sounded less adenoidal to her, and given that she is of course a professional touring and teaching musician, she’s totally got the ear to clue in on that.

And if you’re wondering what ‘adenoidal’ means, don’t worry, I had to look up what the heck the adenoids are myself. Answer: they’re the uppermost of your tonsils, and they live behind your nose. Apparently enlarged adenoids can also cause breathing problems! Looking up ‘adenoidal’ as well, I saw that dictionary.com says that an ‘adenoidal’ voice is nasal and high-pitched. So by definition, this means my voice is sounding a little lower and perhaps not quite so constrained. And even if I’m not in a position to personally vouch for Lisa’s observation, it pleases me nonetheless.

Here are things I can vouch for, though.

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About Me

Nose recovery continues

So that appointment on Monday that I posted about did happen, and went well, and I am pleased to report that I’m closer to my normal functional self.

I still have traces of yellowed bruising under my eyes, but the swelling is almost gone. My nose took some contact dermatitis from having bandages on it for a week–this, I think, was the result of my established sensitivity to adhesives on bandages/bandaids, a thing that started up during my breast cancer saga. Put a bandage/bandaid on me and leave it there long enough, my skin will blister. This is what happened to my nose, and I’m sure it contributed to the DEAR GODS THE ITCHING CANNOT CLAW OFF OWN FACE mood I was in before Monday’s appointment.

At the appointment, the nurse who took out my splints was very no-nonsense and “let’s get this done”. She got in there and went YOINK for the first one, and only paused when I made distressed noises. Because yeah boy howdy that hurt. But she did give me a few minutes to get my equilibrium back before she yoinked out the other one, and I gotta admit, once they were gone, I felt eight million times better.

Dara made impressed noises about the size of the splints themselves once they were out, particularly when one fell down and bounced off me to the floor. I made a point of not looking. Normally for medical things I am of the camp of “give me all the data, I’ll feel a lot better about it all if I know everything there is to know”. In this case, though, scientific curiosity was overridden by “yeaaaaah I don’t think I need to know exactly how big those things stuffed up my nose were, kthx”.

Still, though, that totally made both Dara and me think of one of our favorite moments from Invader Zim:

Exactly What the Splints Felt Like

Exactly What the Splints Felt Like

Part of getting those splints out involved cutting the sutures that had held them in, too. These were at the very base of my nose, and as I write this, there’s still a bit of a red line there were the sutures had been.

After the nurse did that she spent some time suctioning out my nose. And I do mean suctioning. I was still in “keep my eyes closed” mode so I didn’t see her bring in the machine she used for this, but I heard it whirring behind me. Once she started in on me with that thing, I told Dara she was going to shop-vac my nose.

The surgeon who worked on me came in next to check me out, and he also suctioned me, as well as trimming a bit of tissue in there on one of my turbinates that he felt needed trimming. He brought a resident doctor in with him as well, so Dara and I chatted with that guy a bit.

I made a point of asking for a second round of pain meds, as I’d used the last of the Percocet. And experience with my previous medical incidents has taught Dara and me both that I have a bad habit of sitting on pain until it gets too bad to deal with, at which point I promptly have a melt down. So I asked for a round of Vicodin, on the grounds that Percocet rather kicks my ass, and since the plan was for me to work from home for a week I needed to have my brain back. Vicodin does its job without making me loopy.

Dr. Bhrani discussed with me that it was going to take me some time to get used to regularly breathing through my nose, just because I haven’t done it properly for most of my life. I will have to train myself into it. This is apparently common for cases similar to mine.

Then the surgeon and the nurse both doublechecked that I already had a followup appointment scheduled with them in August, and finally declared me clear to go. On the way out I kept tearing up and noted ruefully to Dara that I felt like I was having a melt down, only this one was good, because it was just the sheer relief of having those splints and sutures out.

As the week’s progressed I’ve been able to return to normal sleeping arrangements, and have indeed been working from home. (Thankfully, it’s been a light work week as I’m coming in on the tail end of a sprint and haven’t really had any tasks assigned to me, so I’m finding work to do.) I still have a lot of maintenance I need to do for my nose, both inside and out. The saline rinses are continuing, to clean out the inside of it. And I’m putting Aquaphor and hydrocortisone on the outside, to ease the irritation of the skin.

I was expecting it to be distinctly strange, breathing properly through my nose. During the appointment I tried it a few times and made Dara laugh out loud with my expression–because I don’t often actually physically embody the O.O emoji! And on the way home from that appointment, I found it distinctly weird as well that I was able to feel how chilly the air was on the inside of my nose. “Am I SUPPOSED to be able to sense the temperature of the air with my nose?” I asked Dara. She assured me that yes, I was. I never knew.

Something else I didn’t entirely anticipate was that my sense of balance has periodically been wonky off and on this week, because my inner ear is apparently adjusting to the changes in my breathing patterns. I know what “unsteady because I’m tired” and “unsteady because I’m on painkillers” feel like. Or “unsteady because I got up too fast and my blood rushed to my head”. This has been different. This has been “unsteady for no immediately obvious reason”. It’s eased down as the week has proceeded, but it hasn’t entirely gone away. Dara thinks it’ll take me a few weeks to really properly adjust.

It is distinctly weird to gently wiggle the end of my nose and feel it not clicking under my fingertip. It’s a lot more stable now. And now that I know that my septum was apparently in three different pieces (yikes?), this makes rather more sense now.

So far I have not needed to use my previous levels of antihistamines, which I was hoping for. I have been taking Allegra this week, just to encourage the skin irritation to go away. But I haven’t had any Claritin at all, and only one night where I had any Benadryl. I have not tried the Azelastine spray again, partly because I’m almost out of it, and partly because of an ongoing suspicion I’ve had that that stuff may have been contributing to a worsening of my ability to focus on text on my phone or tablets. After being off that stuff for a week, cold turkey, my ability to visually focus on the devices has improved. So I’ll only be resuming that spray if absolutely necessary.

Other things I’ll be keeping an eye on as I finish recovering and resume normal levels of activity: how my sleeping levels change. Whether this recurrent pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear finally goes away, if I do enough saline rinses to really clear out my sinuses properly. Whether my metabolism alters in response to changes in my sleeping and breathing. How my senses of taste and smell will be impacted.

And, as I’ve written about before, how this will impact my breath control on my flutes and whistles! Dr. Bhrani told me at the appointment that I should stay off wind instruments for a few more weeks, so this means no taking the wind instruments to this month’s session. (Oh darn. I guess I’ll just have to show up with the fiddle instead. ;D )

The only down note so far has been that my snoring has not gone away–because it turns out I’m a mouth snorer, and I am not yet used enough to keeping my mouth closed at night when I sleep. So this’ll be something to work on. Housemate Paul, who has sleep apnea and therefore has some experience with this kind of thing, has recommended I try a chin strap. So I sent a note in to the nurse to ask her for her staff’s recommendation on what kind of chin strap to try.

Aside from the snoring thing, though, this experience has been largely very positive. I’m looking forward to seeing how my daily life continues to change as a result.

About Me

The one week out from surgery report

I’m now one week out from having the septorhinoplasty! I am pleased to report that in general things have been proceeding smoothly and according to expectations.

Bruising and swelling-wise, I looked pretty horrendous as of this past Thursday. I had a very puffy face and some alarming purple lines under each of my eyes; as of this writing most of that has subsided, though there is some puffiness and yellow bruising still. For a while there though there was such puffiness around my eyes that I looked like some sort of hybrid offspring of a Cardassian and a Tellarite. I am glad to have NOT taken any actual pictures of that, but by Saturday I was asked for a pic, and took this one to show folks on Facebook.

Recovery Girl

Recovery Girl

Note also that this pic is after the exterior splint on my nose popped off–which was a little alarming! But it was a bit of molded plastic that was mostly there to serve as a visual indicator to people to be wary of my nose. And given Dara was spending a large amount of time this past week doing cold compresses against my eyes to keep the swelling under control, a lot of moisture got under that splint. Likewise from the vaporizer we set by the recliner in the living room, since I’ve spent the last week sleeping in the recliner so as to keep my head elevated.

So Dara called in about the splint thing, and the nurse assured her that it was nothing to worry about; apparently, for these procedures, the splint just coming off like that is a thing that can sometimes happen.

This has meant though that the bandages are more exposed, which is what you see in the picture above. And even though I was able to stop the cold compresses once we were past the 72-hour window, the bandages still got exposure to some moisture. That aforementioned vaporizer (which excellent idea I attribute to MOO and DW friend eeyorerin, who has gone through similar procedures and who told me about her penguin-shaped vaporizer) was a blessing, but it also meant that I was in that recliner getting vapor on my face for multiple hours in a row overnight. Meanwhile Dara’s also been putting vaseline on the end of my nose to help keep it from drying out, and that too has also been impacting the bandages.

I was warned that the itching would start to drive me bats. I was warned correctly. It has been a very delicate sort of itching, but it’s still AUGH MY NOSE IS ITCHING and I can’t properly scratch it yet. I also can’t properly blow my nose either because the splints are still in there. best I can do is very gently touch my nose, which helps some but does not make the itch go away. Dara’s also been getting me the same icepacks we were using for compression before, since cold does help the problem a bit as well.

I have had to do a lot of saline rinses of my nose, both for moisture and for keeping it clean. After a week of this I have a strong taste of salt in my mouth, to wit, bleah.

But in another hour or so, I will be heading out to the one-week followup. At which, hopefully, they will tell me they can take off both bandages and splints. I will be asking them as well if:

  • I can return to normal sleeping arrangements yet
  • I should continue with the saline rinses and if so for how long
  • I can have one more round of pain meds; I used the last Percocet at lunchtime, and that was because the aforementioned Erin warned me I’d want to have that in effect for the splint removal. But I’ve also started feeling small but noticeable little spikes of pain on the end of my nose, enough to certainly remind me that oh hey I have a nose and it also kinda hurts OW, so I think I’ll need one more round of painkillers, yep

Now at least though I’m to the point of being able to work from home. Which gives me something to do. I mean, I like playing Dungeon Boss and Gummy Drop, but it’s better to have actual work to do. 😀 I’ve actually been working over our VPN today–and given that May Day is set to be particularly lively, it’s a very good day to not have to be in downtown Seattle.

More to come after the appointment, and I’ll let y’all know how my breathing improves!

About Me

Relevant medical advice

Addendum to my nose report! If you remember the cartoon Home Movies, you may recall that some of the characters in its cast had a band. And that one of their songs was rather pertinent to my medical experiences this week. I give you:

Also, if you’re a fan of Heather Dale (and if you’re not, I recommend it, as her voice is amazing and I love her fondness for Arthurian mythos but also her song about Sedna), she has a song that’s medically pertinent this week as well:

Sadly, the Internet has failed me in providing a proper gif of Angel from the episode “Smile Time”, when he gets turned into a Muppet version of himself and demonstrates that his nose comes off.

I have also likewise been unable to find a gif of Rimmer from the “Parallel Universe” episode of Red Dwarf, where he’s telling Lister about his date with Lorraine. “Of course, she had an artificial nose. Tastefully done! Quality metal. No rivets.” ;D

(Both of these are of course referenced in Dara’s song “Sad Muppet”! Which I would point you at except Dara doesn’t have a public recording of “Sad Muppet” available yet. But with the chorus SAD MUPPET HAS NO NOSE, it’s arguably the theme song of this week too.)

About Me

So about that surgery then, here, have a FAQ!

I’ve been talking about this a lot on social media (mostly Facebook), but for the benefit of those of you who follow me via blog/LJ/Dreamwidth, here’s an update on that deviated septum surgery I’m supposed to be having!

What the hell is a deviated septum?

Aside from “the name of my next band” (because Deviated Septum TOTALLY sounds like it ought to be a band name), the septum is the tissue inside your nose that separates one nostril from the other.

When a septum is deviated, this means it’s not straight like it’s supposed to be, and if it’s badly enough off, it can cause problems.

So why is yours deviated?

Probably due to having been hit in the face when I was a kid, long enough ago that I don’t really remember when it happened anymore; I just know that my nose has been crooked most of my life.

What problems has this been causing you?

A number of things that have been going on for as long as I can remember, and which have been getting slowly but steadily more annoying now that I’m getting older, just because tissue does start wearing out as you age. Including:

  • Chronic congestion problems. I take a stupid number of antihistamines on a daily basis (Allegra and Claritin in the morning, and Benadryl at night, as well as Azestaline nasal spray), as well as semi-regular decongestants. Benadryl and Sudafed should not be food groups. I’M JUST SAYIN’.
  • Sinus infections at least once or twice a year.
  • Difficulty breathing through my nose, even when I’m just sitting working on the computer, or in a meeting at work. This is particularly a problem when I’m, say, at the dentist having my teeth cleaned or other work, and they tell me to breathe through my nose while they’re doing that, and I can’t. I have to consciously think to breathe through my nose, and even when I’m doing that, I don’t get enough air. By extension, this means my lips and throat get dehydrated fast during the winter, and I get chronic chapped lips as a result.
  • Snoring problems, which disturb my poor wife, not to mention waking me up at least once a night. This is most noticeable if I wind up lying on my back, but it also repros (hi I’m a software tester, this is how software testers talk) if I lie on my right side–with the added problem that I can hear clicking noises in my nose if I lie on that side. It’s only minimized if I lie on my left side, which means my left shoulder gets too much strain on it when I’m sleeping. Boo. Also, did you know you can make snoring noises while you’re conscious? This is really freggin’ weird. But I can do it!
  • I have recurring pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear which may or may not be a side effect of the chronic congestion; I’ve noticed it subsiding when I’ve recently had decongestants.

So what are you having done to fix this?

On the 24th I’m going in for a procedure called a septorhinoplasty. This is a combination of two different procedures, one to fix my septum, and the other to do any necessary reshaping of the nose to accommodate this. Since my nose is pretty crooked (I was diagnosed at fifty percent deviation of my septum, which has practically closed off my left nostril, FUN), the surgeon has to rearrange my nose as well as fixing the septum. A cartilage graft off my ear may also be involved if necessary to rebuild the septum.

This is going to be an outpatient procedure, and will take about 3-4 hours.

Thankfully, since this is a functional repair of my nose as opposed to just cosmetic work, my insurance is not balking about covering it. (This is the part where I am also very, very grateful that I do in fact have decent health coverage, and this, children, would be why I am holding on to a day job and am not trying to support myself with my writing full time. I don’t sell nearly enough copies of things to cover the costs of all the health situations Dara and I had to deal with in the last ten years!)

What will your recovery time be like?

Comparable to prior recoveries I’ve had to do. I’ll have about a week dedicated to full recovery at home, which will probably about line up with a course of pain meds. A week after, I’ll go in for the first followup appointment, at which point I may or may not be coherent enough to start working from home. I’ll probably be doing that until I’m physically back up to speed and can manage my usual day job commute.

Part of why I’ll have to stay at home will be that I’ll have bandages and splints on my FACE! And I’ll need to minimize any risk of disrupting that, as well as minimizing the risk of infection. I’ll have to spend some time sleeping with my head elevated as well, until the splints can come out of my nose. And there will be lots and lots of saline rinses to help make sure everything in there heals up appropriately.

Given this, my face is probably going to be VERY ALARMING LOOKING for a few weeks. There will be bruises and swelling as well as bandages and splints. I’m going to look like a disaster victim.

Oh WOW. Can we have pictures?

Maybe. I will not be coherent enough for selfies while I’m on a course of Vicodin, but Dara has a phone with a camera, and she knows how to use it. 😉

Since you’re doing another surgery recovery, will you do another Murkworks Movie Suckoff?

Yes. YES I WILL. Current main contenders are likely to be Frankenstein Unbound and Victor Frankenstein, and I have also had The Apple suggested. More recommendations are definitely welcome, although as always, if I’ve already seen it, it is automatically disqualified from a Suckoff. And if it’s been MSTed, chances are very high I’ve already seen it!

On a related note, this will also be conveniently not long after the coming of the new MST3K episodes on Netflix, so oh my yes I will be watching those too. But those won’t be part of the official Suckoff. 😀

And the end result of all this is going to be what?

Hopefully much improved breathing! And hopefully much reduced snoring! I am informed that there’s a chance that this won’t entirely fix everything, but there’s a decent shot at significant improvement, so I’m going for it.

As a side bonus, it might also give me improved breath control on my flutes and whistles. I will be keeping tabs on this once I’m recovered enough that I’m cleared to play wind instruments again (I’ll be asking the surgeon about this, most definitely). Note also that this is a contributing factor to why I’ve taken up the fiddle, just so that I can have a melody instrument in my arsenal that doesn’t involve my nose!

And that’s all pretty much it! Anybody have any other questions, leave ’em in the comments!