28 June 2016

Coffee-stained health

Some of you may already know that I've been having some health problems lately.

In addition to the diagnosis of rosacea, I've been dealing with a great deal of pain and fatigue that has been increasing for the last couple of years. So I got a referral from my primary care physician to go to a rheumatologist.

I saw the rheumatologist a couple of weeks ago, and he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. His exact words were, "Well, you definitely have fibromyalgia."

Okay, then.

In addition, he thinks I also have some kind of autoimmune condition "in the lupus family." So he ordered a lot of blood work to try and determine what else, if anything, I have. Once we know what's going on, we can develop a treatment plan that helps deal with all of my symptoms. The blood work is done and I'll get the results at my follow up appointment in a couple of weeks.

If I warn you that my veins roll, it's for a reason.
This is that reason.
The experience was not exactly pleasant. I don't like getting blood drawn. I always warn whoever is drawing my blood that my veins roll and they have to be anchored. I always bruise. Sometimes (like this last time) very badly. But if it helps get answers, it's worth it in the end.

It was abrupt, this change from "something's wrong" to "chronic illness."

In the progression of what I've been experiencing, along with comments from my primary care doctor, I had a pretty good idea of what's been going on. But hearing the words made it real. I know that I'm going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life.

There is a mental and emotional shift. There are things I just can't do anymore, and things I won't be able to do when I'm in a flare (like right now). The past few week it has been hard to accept that the reason I can't do these things is because of my body, not because of my personality. There are things that I can't change, and instead of beating myself up and getting angry because I can't do certain things, I am having to create and adapt to my new normal.

It's going to be a process. And in the meantime, I'm doing what I can.

23 June 2016

Modifying my green book

I've been using a planner (with a green cover) for quite some time. I call it my green book. In that time, I've tried different things with it here and there, and tried different planners, but I usually returned to some incarnation of the green book.

But it wasn't really working for me. I didn't have the space I needed for notes, and the layouts of the pages locked me in to using the planner in a very specific way.

It just wasn't working.

So as I was wandering around online to try and find some workarounds, I discovered bullet journaling, created by Ryder Carroll. It's a way of incorporating planning, scheduling, notes, and to-do lists all in one place. The foundation of the method is simplicity and flexibility. You can use any notebook and pen and find a way to make it exactly what you need it to be.

Here's the video on Carroll's website:

If you Google bullet journals, the image results will be full of artistically magnificent pictures of layouts and notes and oh, my goddess the pretties. And that's wonderful for those using their bullet journals as an artistic outlet. That's not me. I express myself in words, not visual art.

So I'm sticking much, much more closely to the original method developed by Carroll. I've incorporated a couple of chart-style trackers and I'm using a different method for indexing, but other than that, my bullet journal is very simple.

I can tell you that even using this method just this month has helped me stay much more organized. I have everything in one place, and the method plays into my need to write things down in order to remember them. (I ♥ analog planners!)

Because of the method's simplicity and flexibility, I'm able to make it anything I want it to be. I use it to track projects for work, it includes my blogging editorial calendar, planning and task lists for our upcoming family vacation, and even my "40 before 40" list.

I plan to stick with this planning method through the end of the year to decide whether I really like it or not. If I don't, I can go back to a different planner at the beginning of 2017.

In the meantime, I like it quite a bit.

21 June 2016

On Father's Day

I used to value Father's Day.

I was pretty close with my dad, especially after I moved back to Illinois from Florida, and during the divorce. We spoke on the phone a few times a week, and I prided myself on showing my appreciation to him every year in June. One of the last Father's Days I spent with my dad, I surprised him with a round of golf for the two of us and my younger brother. I like golf, so it was a good morning.

When I moved back to Florida, things changed. Well... I should be more specific. I started dating Bo, and things changed. I told him the nature of our relationship was up to him, and now we haven't spoken in I don't know how long. My father has clearly made a choice based on his religious beliefs about homosexuality.

The good news is that there are aspects in which Father's Day still has value to me.

I have an amazing father-in-law.

My father-in-law looking dapper on our wedding day
October 2015
He embraces me as a daughter (no qualifiers). In fact, it was less than 12 hours after I met Bo that he friended me on Facebook, and there was no going back after that. He loves me and I love him, and when I think of Father's Day, he is the one who comes to mind.

My father-in-law is a good man. He loves his family and would do whatever he could for any of them. There are no strings attached to his love. He has never once told me, "I love you, but I don't agree with your lifestyle." He just loves me for who I am.

I have lost my father by blood by his own choice, which has caused me to also lose the rest of my family on that side. But I have gained so much more in a family by choice.

I think I came out ahead in that.

14 June 2016

We are Orlando.

I live in Orlando. The Pulse is only about a ten-minute drive from my home. And though my wife and I are not clubbers, we know people who are.

We are fortunate that we were home. That we didn't lose anyone. (Our neighbor lost four people Sunday morning.)

At the same time, we have lost them, too. They were are our brothers and sisters. They are me.

I am heartbroken in so many ways and for so many reasons because of this. And while it's important to talk about the big-picture issues that have been brought into the stark spotlight (homophobia, discrimination, gun control, religion, racism, etc.), it is imperative that we don't let other important things be pushed to the shadows because of the big-picture discussions.

Every single one of those involved in the massacre on Sunday morning is important. They deserve to have voices. Those who have survived can use their own voices to take up space, but there are 49 people who must rely on us to speak for them.

Say their names. Remember them. Speak for them.

"To actively do nothing is a decision, as well." --President Barack Obama, 6.12.16

Stanley Almodovar III (23 years old)
Amanda Alvear (25 years old)
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero (26 years old)
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala (33 years old)
Antonio Davon Brown (29 years old)
Darryl Roman Burt II (29 years old)
Angel L. Candelario-Padro (28 years old)
Juan Chavez-Martinez (25 years old)
Luis Daniel Conde (39 years old)
Cory James Connell (21 years old)
Tevin Eugene Crosby (25 years old)
Deonka Deidra Drayton (32 years old)
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez (31 years old)
Leroy Valentin Fernandez (25 years old)
Mercedez Marisol Flores (26 years old)
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz (22 years old)
Juan Ramon Guerrero (22 years old)
Paul Terrell Henry (41 years old)
Frank Hernandez (27 years old)
Miguel Angel Honorato (30 years old)
Javier Jorge-Reyes (40 years old)
Jason Benjamin Josaphat (19 years old)
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice (30 years old)
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla (25 years old)
Christopher Andrew Leinonen (32 years old)
Alejandro Barrios Martinez (21 years old)
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool (49 years old)
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez (25 years old)
Kimberly Morris (37 years old)
Akyra Monet Murray (18 years old)
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (20 years old)
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez (25 years old)
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera (36 years old)
Joel Rayon Paniagua (32 years old)
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez (35 years old)
Enrique L. Rios, Jr. (25 years old)
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez (27 years old)
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado (35 years old)
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz (24 years old)
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan (24 years old)
Edward Sotomayor, Jr. (34 years old)
Shane Evan Tomlinson (33 years old)
Martin Benitez Torres (33 years old)
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega (24 years old)
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez (37 years old)
Luis S. Vielma (22 years old)
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez (50 years old)
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon (37 years old)
Jerald Arthur Wright (31 years old)