Thursday, April 29, 2004

Nasty side effects

The first dose of Effexor had me shaking continuously for about 12 hours, starting 3 hours after taking the tablet. Touch me anywhere, and you would have felt the fast and continuous muscle tremors. My brain feels fractured, but definitely more alert. I can't concentrate on anything or do anything strenuous for any length of time. Nausea is a big problem, especially when I yawn, perhaps due to yawning using a similar action to retching. I also wonder if Effexor is a diuretic, I've been really thirsty and fluids are just going straight through. I've also got my base weight down 2kg in a week - possibly due to less fluid retention. I haven't found any comments about this on the web though, so it may be something else.

These side effects were decreasing, until I doubled the dose two days ago. Again, uncontrollable tremors, inability to focus (vision and concentration), nausea, and a new one - very bad insomnia, in the last two nights I've had a maximum of 7 hours sleep.

People commented today on how calm and quiet I was, without realising that it was actually due to being completely dazed and sleepy! I have been on average a lot warmer than usual, today seemed far too hot though. Unfortunately the virus seems to have worsened, turning into laryngitis and an ear infection, so I'm not sure which of the symptoms are linked to the virus or are actually side effects of the anti-depressant.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Fizzy brain

Seems like too many people I know have been or are on anti-depressants, and now I have joined them. After two tablets I can't tell whether my shakiness, vagueness, dry mouth, nausea and headaches are due to the medication, or the virus I've currently got. Apparently, due to not looking after myself (and not realising I had a virus), it has moved into the muscles and produced arthritis like symptoms. I just thought it was my ankle and wrists getting worse, but went to the doc when most joints/muscles started aching. I should have realised that my glands were up, throat raw and I was suffering from a low grade fever, but then I'm not noticing much these days.

The last 4 or so months have had few 'up' periods, many downward turns, with the associated withdrawing, no motivation to do anything, weight gain, and no interest in anything. Since I starting teaching in 1999, I have never had that happen, and the larger leaps down can pinpoint the days I met with my boss and the other ALs, discussing the loss of our jobs next year (the Computer Science department is being forcibly downsized).

It's odd, but in the last week I've come across several people who I thought had known about my past history of being abused as a kid and being in several abusive relationships. Mood swings are harder to deal with when older, as there are more responsibilities (keep a house, a job, difficult study, be independent etc.).

I wonder if the medication will help or worsen my already horrific nightmares, and I desperately hope they don't bring on flashbacks such as I had earlier this year and late last year. Having read many comments about Effexor, I am nervous of the side effects and especially the withdrawal.

After many years of regular counselling, and being chronically ill for most of that time to various degrees, I've learnt to listen to my body. Not necessarily to heed it's warnings, however. I am doing all I can for the illness side of things and not making much of a dent, if any. Now it's time to focus on breaking the mood-swing cycle, or at least side-lining it for a while.

iDucks

How cute - 256MB glow-in-the-dark USB storage iDucks. I want the blue one ;>

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Eyeball jewellery?!

Implanting little hearts, stars or moons into the eye is apparently the new trend in piercing, and the pioneering surgeons have a waiting list of people wanting to shove bits of metal into their eyes and call it jewellery. It was claimed that this was more subtle than body piercing.. but I don't for a minute believe it's less invasive and has no side effects.... Yuck.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Zaurus

Bernie and I are thinking of both getting a Zaurus. Bernie would get much more playing use out of it, and most likely have a lot of fun doing it. I would use it as a replacement brain - reminding me of what I should be doing, when. At the moment, dates and times of appointments and outings are the hardest to remember. But then I'd probably move on to various other forms of tracking (progress on craft projects, collections, pantry, menus), possibly moving into reading various things on there. Don't know about that as I hate computer screens, but LCD are a lot better than standard monitors. Oh, how I wish for a flat screen to fit _in front_ of me while I work, instead of working on an angle and making diagonal depressions on my leg from the corners of the drawers.

Music

TV stations need to stop putting good music shows on late at night, they keep stopping me from sleeping at a reasonable time. The other night there were two excellent documentaries, one about the head of the music department at Sydney University. This was an exact picture of how it is currently at my university - cutting funding for teaching, requiring more hours and research on top of lengenthed teaching and admin work. I guess it's this the world over in the world of academia. Sad really.

The second documentary was a very well done picture of several women who contracted AIDS, following their lives, dreams and peoples responses to them. Last night ABC showed Sondheim's musical/opera - Sweeny Todd; the demon barber of Fleet Street. I was suprised that one of the singers was actually the actor who played Dougie Howser MD, and although it was obvious he was definately not a classically trained singer, the character he portayed needed the kind of raw, simple voice that he had. The lead female (Mrs Lovett) was incredible, but had a striking resemblence to Deana Troi. I think I had seen a production of this a long time ago, or at least heard the music on the radio at some stage as it seemed very familiar to me.

But both nights saw me in bed around 2am... not good when I'm trying to swing to being more of a morning person. As a result, I have a migraine today :-\

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Sideshow

Sheri S. Tepper - Sideshow

I found this to be even better than The Revenants. Sideshow seemed more mature, smoother, deeper and better narrated. Again, this book has a political and sociological undercurrent, exploring how various culturally separate societies would deal with the situation where a beneficial symbiont has infected most of the galaxy and now seemed to be attacking their people (theirs is the only known planet to have evaded infection so far, and is not in contact with the rest of the galaxy at all). The governments of all provinces believe that the organism actually enslaves humans, and thus tries to eradicate it using any means necessary.

The characters are very carefully developed at the beginning of the book, pushing the plot development back which causes a little confusion for a while regarding how various narrative threads relate to each other. Very enjoyable with many unexpected plot twists and character developments.

Travelling birds

Spectacular footage of a huge range of birds during their different migrations around the world enabled this film to live up to it's amazing reputation. The soundtrack contributed to the feeling of wonder at the effort the birds spend in travelling halfway (or more) across the world each 6 months. It makes the small walks I do to and from work seem insignificant. Probably best seen with an excellent sound system, and if flashing lights are bothersome, use a small amount of back lighting (I got a headache from some of the busier scenes due to the regular 'flashing'). An incredible movie.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Depression

How to claw back from depression? The kind where you can do absolutely nothing even though you need to. This bout seems to be caused by the looming job cuts at university (I won't be lecturing any more), and finally cutting ties with the rest of my abusive family. I can manage short bursts of routine non-thinking things like cleaning and washing, but not for long. Even work is starting to be neglected. Study hasn't been looked at in ages. Anti-depressants are not an easy option as I've been found to be allergic or badly reactive to three different types, need to be very careful of my kidneys, try to not trigger more migraines, or increase pain levels, or worsen insomnia.

Speaking of which, insomnia has worsened over the past few weeks, enough that I keep waking up every 20 or so minutes, and can't sleep for more than 5 hours. Valerian, homeopathic remedies, meditation, deep relaxation, yoga and various other things work for a bit, but at the moment, everything has stopped working.

Attempting to distract from the depression by starting a patchwork quilt, working on the garden, knitting, trying to get organised and stuck into a routine also hasn't done a thing. The routine never really starts.

I was lent a book recently: "Authentic Happiness" by Martin Seligman, but found it didn't really explain anything radically new. I seem to have read enough self-help books and website, and been through enough psychotherapy to have covered most of the ideas in this book. It does not, however, deal with people who are depressed and dealing with chronic pain - it notes in one sentence that people who are in such ongoing pain will always suffer spiralling depression - I don't agree with the 'always' blanket. My results of all of the little quizzes/ratings in the book were fairly extreme, except for the quiz about vengeance (for the abuse I suffered), which was at least something positive.

I experienced this when doing the workplace THRIVE workshops (a sequence of 8 seminar/discussions about various topics: motivation, scheduling, anger, sleep, etc). Absolutely nothing was new to me, and in fact only scratched the basics, but it was interesting seeing the other people there be amazed at the concepts I thought were basic common sense and/or knowledge.

So... how to find motivation to do stuff? Especially honours.... still desperately searching, but running out of options. I need a very long holiday from work, study and me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Runaway knee

My knee wants to leave me. It's being bombarded by sharp, spiking pain from my sciatic and also by the deep, throbbing, radiating pain of my ankle (I went over on it a couple of days ago, badly, and can't find my ankle brace). The sciatic flared because I had horrific adeno/digestion pain yesterday, cause unknown. It's unlikely to be the dairy in the risotto I made on Saturday, because it would have flared up when I ate a fair amount of white and milk chocolate a little while back. It's probably all due to stress - I am beating myself up about not being able to get any honours work done. I just can't concentrate, everything I try either makes me hurt more or feel more guilty. I hate vicious cycles.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Blue hair

Long blue hair (2004) Blue hair (2004)

I've since written my instructions for dying hair this shade of dark blue/purple.

Dying complete

It's actually closer to the original intended colour (dark deep blue) than the dye I used (combination of blue and purple). There are dark teal streaks peeking out from dark blue, almost black sections beginning at deep velvety blue/purple hair at the roots. The bleach made the roots white this time and let the blue penetrate the already dyed parts.

If I need a touch up colour, I'll probably go for pure purple. I was a worried that it would turn out pink and thus used the blue dye in combination with the purple, but I never expected this much blue!

My hair also got a trim to try to reduce the split ends, but with the amount of knotting and matting on drying, I don't think it worked. Bleach is cruel, tomorrow night I'll put a long conditioning treatment in. If I don't like the colour tomorrow, when viewed in the sun, there are two boxes of black on standby (they are actually quite moisturising).

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Movement

I have started on a new scarf, made from a multi-tone Mirragio wool (multiple textures). As I'm using size 9 needles, it's growing very fast, especially now that I've got into the rhythm of knitting again. It looks like I'll need to get a couple more balls of wool as I'm not following the pattern (using one size smaller needles, 30 instead of 20 stitches per row) as I like long scarves.

My mother commented that long scarves aren't in fashion, I wonder when she'll catch onto the fact that I don't follow the fashion trends, I wear and make what I feel comfortable in.

Anyhow, back to work... plagiarism checking is tedious.