*blinks* Uh… where did the last few months go? Ok, I understand that February is the shortest month of the year and so it’s natural to feel a sense of lost time, but seriously, who stole a week or two from that month? Then March and April just vamoosed right after it. I really do feel like it was just the start of April last week. I guess that is what happens when you’ve had your head stuck in your dissertation for several months, working hard on blogging stuff and fending off various lergies since the start of the year. Yeah, it’s not been an easy few months. Let’s catch up, shall we?
New Blog Logo!
Have you noticed that things are looking a little different? The old logo had been bugging me for a long time and I knew it needed to change. But finding the creativity and getting the energy and focus to create a new one was a pest. I’m not super talented when it comes to graphics, I get by, but I’m a little stubborn when it comes to designing my own sites. I like to give them the personal touch, especially when it comes to my logo. I admit though; I was getting close to just giving up and finding someone to make one for me.
Then one night inspiration suddenly hit and bam! I knew what I wanted. I pictured it in my and the next day I was actually able to create a version that not only looked like that image, but was also half decent! I am quite happy with how it turned out and I have everything saved a million times so I can tinker with it to make it just right if I find I’m not (I can see at least one thing I’d like to adjust already).
I’m really glad that I did make the change though as when we went to SFW my business cards got quite a few nice looks with the new logo on them!
The menu has also had a few changes and there’s some new pages too so take a look around when you get a moment 🙂
Anyone who has spoken to me during the last few months heard about my dissertation first draft and the upcoming deadline of the end of March. It was literally all I was talking about, all I could think about for weeks. I missed the deadline. But, I’m looking at the positive because I missed it due to two circumstances beyond my control and one awkward one.
When I first got ill with ME and started my recovery I could barely manage 100 words an hour; I used to be able to turn out 1000-1500 words in a sitting no bother. To go from being able to do that, right down to struggling to manage 100 words and have to start with a schedule of 100 words a day was not just humbling it was soul destroying. I felt like everything that I had worked for, everything that made me intelligent was being ripped away by this invasive and debilitating illness that I had absolutely no control over. Tough doesn’t begin to describe it. I almost gave up so many times.
By the end of March I was up to 500-800 words a day. I was determined to get this dissertation completed. I even took my laptop and everything I needed with me to a convention we went to at the end of March – yep, that’s the awkward circumstance. It fell right before my deadline. I knew this in advance and planned accordingly and naturally, sod’s law I got really ill that week. Chris developed a nasty head cold – you know the type; the ones that knock even the healthy people for six. I appeared to escape it, and then it hit me with a vengeance. My carefully laid plans were in ruins. I still manage to salvage some of the time, and I got some work done while we were away at the convention too. I was not giving up.
Then during the convention weekend disaster struck. Chris’ back gave out, he missed the second day of SFW and there was absolutely no way he could travel. We were stranded in Sheffield for several days. Thankfully the hotel staff were absolutely amazing and accommodated us, including moving us into an accessible room which helped so much. I’m sure some people would have seen this as the perfect opportunity to crack on and finish the dissertation draft. Those of you who have chronic illnesses or have cared for someone with a back injury are probably shaking your head right now. You know what’s coming.
I was still ill during the convention, I also had a migraine for three days, stress of worrying about Chris and my dissertation and my usual health conditions. On top of that I was caring for Chris who could barely move let alone walk. I managed to get some work done, but Chris was my main concern and to look after him I needed to keep myself healthy. The first draft deadline wasn’t a formal deadline anyway. I hadn’t ‘failed’ by missing it, it was just the time my supervisor and I had agreed on to hand in my first draft so she could read through it and advise on edits bef ore the final deadline (end of April).
I ended up being a week late with it. And now as the end of April approaches you’re probably wondering – did I get it done?! No!
Because my deadline has been extended to September due to some technical reason.
Considering how I’m feeling right now, I’m really grateful for that but at the same time I really really just want this damn thing done now. I took a break from it for a few weeks while I waited for my supervisor to get back to me (she was away at a conference for part of the time) and since her last email I’ve just felt completely rotten (I’ll get to that in a moment). They say with your dissertation/thesis that you hit a point where you just start to hate it – I’m not quite at the hate stage, I’m just ready to move on and be done with it.
But… the first draft is finished! It needs a lot of polishing and it’s waaaay over the word count (my supervisor advised that it’s better to be over than short, so I purposefully didn’t cut anything until now). But I got this far!!!
All the lergies in the world
I went to start writing this, to list all the lergies of this year and realised that there has been that many that I can’t actually remember. The sub-title was meant to be overly dramatic, but perhaps it was a little closer to home than I’d have liked. There’s been at least one course of anti-biotics, the nasty head cold I mentioned, viruses all over the place, and my body going haywire a lot. Last week I had a massive fatigue flare up which scared the hell out of me as I’ve not had one of them in a while that hasn’t been connected to something else. Fatigue is basically a cause and effect system, at least for me. I get an illness, or I use too much energy; I get fatigue. So to get that much fatigue suddenly and have no cause for it… it was terrifying. I’m still feeling a bit iffy now as I write this, but taking it really easy for a few days and still taking it a bit easy seems to be doing the trick.
Then there’s last month’s fun and games. I’m pretty sure I had PMT three times in one month, my cycle was that out of whack. Pushing hard to get my dissertation done also meant an increase in migraines too (and I’m sure the hormones and the stress didn’t help either). I’ve been talking about my hormones being out of whack and swapping off the pill in previous Geeking By posts last year. That has been put on hold for a bit because I opened up to my doctor about some personal things I’ve been going through and as a result she wants to wait for me to get some referrals before we start messing with the pill. It’s not ideal, however, I can see where she’s coming from and in the long run these issues are more important.
All this and some other big things happening in my life have taken a toll on my mental well being. Remember my Word of the Year post full of hope about working through my issues with my therapist? Well, about a week after that I got told that I’d been dropped from my therapists books because I’d missed so many appointments. I was really upset and then fuming – I had brought up this very issue with him in an appointment and explained that it had always caused me problems, including at the very clinic where I was having these sessions with him. He told me very clearly to not worry about it and if I felt unwell to just call in sick. Never was there any mention of problems arising if I missed sessions.
I was told that I could ask to go back on the waiting list, and I asked to do so, however, made it clear that I would need to see someone else as I considered our trust broken. He initially said he could speak to his direct superior to do this, however, in his next email he changed his tune and suddenly had to speak to the consultant that referred me. By this point I had thought through all my options, everything that had happened to me at the hospital and realised a few things. Not only did they have nothing more to offer me, or if they did my consultant clearly had no interest in ever offering it to me. Every time I saw him all he offered was physiotherapy and mindfulness – I’ve now completed mindfulness and I’m able to guide myself happily. Physiotherapy would be a waste of my time because right now my issues are related to my mental health not my physical health, and my fatigue. I’ve done their fatigue related physio course too so it would be working one on one with a physiotherapist when my body isn’t in a place where it can handle those exercises right now. Nor is my mind in the right place.
I also realised that from day one that despite my energetic desire for this hospital to be a beacon of hope in the NHS for people with chronic illnesses the sad fact is that they are not. That truth hit me the hardest. The one place that is supposed to be understanding of our difficulties and conditions is still run by people who only care about how many times you attend appointments. Who don’t tell you the truth, and worse of all, are playing mind games with their patients. My therapist’s superior was someone who I thought I could trust and after all this I was left seriously questioning her motives. When I was on holiday in Dorset I got a phone call telling me I had been kicked off the next mindfulness course because I’d missed the pre-session. I’d known I’d miss this and had called well ahead when I had signed up for the course to ask if that was ok. This was my third time attending so I knew from the previous time that if you had attended the pre-session once you didn’t need to go to it again. Still, I was well prepared to miss this course and go to the next one if I had to attend it. I told the secretary this, and she went away to ask someone. She came back to tell me that it was absolutely fine, she’d put a note on my record to say what was happening.
As far as I was concerned it was all sorted. I’d go on my holiday and come back the next week to start the course. I did not expect to be dealing with the most horrible woman in the middle of my holiday who listed off all the sessions I had missed as if I’d committed a crime. This was extremely upsetting especially when I had to quit the second course due to serious medical reasons through no fault of my own (I couldn’t breathe properly, for hell’s sake!!). When I got back I found that the course was run by two doctors, the nice one I knew from my previous courses, and one I really didn’t like who had previously given everyone a stern lecture at the pre-session about attendance. You can guess who I chose to talk to about the phone call and mix up, especially since I ended up in tears and was feeling extremely anxious about the whole course. She was really nice, and then blamed it all on the other doctor saying that the two of them completely disagreed on people attending the pre-session and attendance in general.
She was my therapist’s superior.
So after feeling extremely mixed up, no idea where I stood with any of the professionals who were supposed to help me and feeling like they just seemed to want rid of me, I went back to my doctor and told her that I didn’t want to go back there. I also opened up to her about the other issues and she automatically recommended other services that could handle those much better – one of them I’d tried talking to this therapist about and he automatically pushed it to one side. I feel a bit naive because he was just a student, however, I had a student therapist when I was at University and she was absolutely amazing. She helped me out so much with coping with my dermatillomania and when a professor was stressing me out she rode to my rescue and wrote a kickass letter to back me up. So I’m always willing to given students a try because some of them are fantastic and at that stage of their career they’re enthusiastic and not jaded.
It’s now been two months since I last heard from my therapist (I’ve ignored his last two emails as they’ve been very triggering) and since he was referring me back to the consultant. Funnily enough I’ve not heard a single word from said consultant or the hospital about an appointment to discuss my ongoing treatment…
I’m currently looking after myself mental health wise, learning to recognise the signs correctly and take necessary steps to help myself when I feel bad. It’s not easy and it’s up and down, but I need to just wait for the referral at this stage. It’s a specialised service so it’s going to be a wait.
Sci Fi Weekender!
I have a full coverage post coming up, so this is just a small comment on it with some personal notes as that is my official review/coverage thanks to our press badges. Yes, we had press badges!!! It was our first time and that in itself was mega scary. I did a lot of firsts that weekend including my first video interview, my first interviews ever and a whole lot of networking. There is a lot of stuff happening! Chris was on point as photographer until he hurt his back, and then I was very lucky to have my best friend Haley step in to help out. They’re both fantastic photographers so we have some great photos! The hardest part has been editing them as it’s my first time editing RAW format – but I totally see why it is recommended and I am never going back now!
Despite everything with Chris’ back and having a three day migraine the whole time, the weekend was a massive success. I had a fantastic time and met so many people who have quickly become a good friends. The Gnarr cosplayer featured in the photo above is my friend Kim (of Warp Raven Cosplay & Props) who I met at last years SFW, and it was lovely meeting up with her again this year! There was only one bad moment, and that was out-shadowed by everyone else being so understanding and lovely! I can’t wait for part 2 in October!!!
Geek Catch Up
This has been a really long entry and if you’ve made it this far kudos for taking the time to read it all, I really appreciate that. I want to just finish up on a ligher note with a quick recap of what geeky things I’ve been reading, watching and playing recently.
Until March I was reading a lot again – I finally got my mojo back! Then the closer I got to my dissertation deadline and the harder I found to get the time to read again, so I need to work that back into my schedule again. I caught up with the two Tamora Pierce books I had sitting at home, the Tortall Spy’s Guide and Tempests and Slaughter the first book in the Numair trilogy – I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed that one. As I said in a previous entry I wasn’t quite sure about it. I’ve also had Staked by Kevin Hearne to read for some time so I finished that and then caught up on some short stories also set in the Iron Druid universe.
Thanks to having two free months of Scribd (don’t forget you can get a two months free yourself by using my referral *winks*) I was able to get hold of a couple of books I’ve been eyeing up for quite some times; Carniepunk a carnival themed urban fantasy anthology which was fantastic and the World of Warcraft tie-in novel Before the Storm. Finally. I had mixed feelings about that book and you can read my review on goodreads. Otherwise I caught up on my DC comics again! I’ve found that I much prefer to let them build up so I have several issues of each series to read at a time rather than having to wait weeks between them.
There’s not been many movies in the last few months but I’m hoping to catch up on more this year so while it’s slow going, it is going. Chris and I managed to catch up with all the Marvel movies before Captain Marvel was released! So it’s just that one and Endgame that we’ve not seen. And the other day we finally got to sit down to watch Solo, after successfully avoiding all spoilers despite being so very late in doing so. I absolutely adored it! It was every Han, Chewie and Lando expanded universe (now Legends) story rolled into one visual extravaganza. All the moves I’d read about in great detail in the novels had been transformed into wonderful space battle choreography.
TV has been about two things; crime and superheroes. I’ve got quite a few crime shows that I watch regularly, and only a handful that I actually completed; Criminal Minds Season 14 and Vera Season 9. Two new additions to my list were Harrow Season 1 starring Ioan Gruffudd who I’ve loved as an actor since his Hornblower days, so when I saw he was playing another medical examiner so soon after Forever, I had to check it out! It is extremely different from Forever, a chilling thriller with lots of twists and turns – but fantastic.
The other newcomer was Coroner staring another actor I always check out, Serinda Swan, and I was not disappointed! I was just so sad to find there were only 8 episodes in the first season. This show deals with mental health, loss and the realities of life in such a raw and real way that it is refreshing. I read a review where someone complained that a character didn’t ask the protagonist if she was ok, when she was clearly NOT ok, and instead did something impulsive (I won’t spoil it for you) to try to cheer their friend up. The reviewer clearly didn’t understand how someone with mental health doesn’t want to be asked the inane question ‘are you ok?’. When I watched that scene I was praising the writers for getting it right. It has been renewed for season 2, so definitely check out season 1 if you’re a fan of crime dramas.
You can now keep up with the rest of my crime shows and everything else, including my regular superhero shows by heading over to my Currently Watching page! There you can find my current watch schedule, some pin boards that show you what seasons I’m on and also links to Trakt.TV which is what I use to check in when I’m watching episodes and movies.
New superhero shows were the Umbrella Academy which I loved and I have had to hold myself back from reading the comics. I’ll check them out after the show has run its course because I want to experience the surprises on screen. And I finally caught up with most of the Marvel TV shows! Once I finally got through Jessica Jones season 1 – I enjoyed it, it was just such a slog – I quickly made my way through everything else up to the end of Luke Cage season 2. I’ve stopped there for now to catch up on my other shows before they disappeared off the Sky catch up service. I have Iron Fist Season 2 next, then Daredevil season 3 and finally The Punisher Season 2. The Punisher was the surprising one out of the bunch for me; I honestly didn’t think I would fall in love with Frank Castle as much as I did.
And finally – yes even this section has ended up a mammoth essay, hasn’t it?! Gaming! I used a steam gift card I won in a competition to pick up a new game called Lust for Darkness which I’m hoping to play soon. Otherwise it’s been Merge Dragons (add me as a friend my code is NXASOKUZ) and Hogwarts Mystery on mobile. I finally caught up with my old game save in Hogwarts Mystery so I’ve been enjoying new game content again! Chris has been playing World of Warcraft with me again and it’s been great having my partner in crime back. While I can play the game solo it’s just not the same or as much fun without him by my side <3
Over to You
If you made it this far, please have a cookie and some hugs <3 Thankfully April is over for another year and I’m hoping May will be the start of some good things – and better weather if it ever warms up again. Even Milo didn’t escape the April curse and had a wee trip to the vet for an upset stomach (you can read more about it on instagram).
How have you been?
Has your start to 2019 been as bonkers as mine?
Any convention stories to share?
Let me know in the comments! I’ll be catching up with blog posts soon so feel free to share a link too.
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