Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the weight of inadvertent flakery

For the record, this Ragamuffin has not been at her best lately -- physically or mentally.  There has been too much for a healthy me to handle, and I am not a healthy me.

The pressure at work has been astounding for several weeks now, accompanied by feelings of not wanting to be there (which are horrid, because I love my research with all my being).  Coincidentally, dearest Remicade seems to have stopped working its magic, becoming a premature delinquent and leaving me with a very big decision to make.  Therefore, there seems to be some competition between my mind and my gut for who is currently the most put out by Life, and who deserves the most coddling.  I've been closing the door on both of them and left them to tire of their own tantrums.  This has not been as effective as I had hoped.

The not being well has come at a very bad time -- it's a brilliant creature, Timing.  With a month left before the big move, I have been making an honest effort to gather with my friends (among many, many other things which are not the subjects of this post).  This has recently required one, and sometimes even two, after-work outings each week.  Such outings, while they can be so soulfully rewarding, are not accommodating to pain or heavy Throughput.  Therefore, I have been making plans freely with the best intentions, and inevitably canceling or rescheduling them with great embarrassment.

I am not a flake.  But my insides are.  Therefore, my most sincere apologies to those of you who I have slighted of late (none of whom read this blog, incidentally), and to those of you who I have yet to slight (some of whom do read, incidentally), be forewarned.

I have thirteen years of this practice under my belt, and yet I am still bothered when my flaking is not well-received.  Don't they understand by now -- my friends of ten years or more, especially -- that as type-A as I am, sometimes (often, lately) I just can't make it happen?  It comes as a surprise to me that many of them do not.  Love me as they might, they still do not understand the chronic nature of chronic illness.  And so despite my greatest efforts, I become a flake.

Friday, June 24, 2011

basic skillz

Insanely busy work days are days when you do not want to flaunt your laziness, allow me to take care of your sloppiness, undermine my mentorship or otherwise provoke me to break your face with my heel.

And yet, I am having to remind the same two people to refill a solution which they share with me when they use it up, or at least give me enough warning that I can make more myself before anything time-sensitive gets destroyed.  Here I am taking out the recycling because it's overflowing onto the floor and neither of my coworkers has thought to walk it down the hall so no one trips on it and dies.  Here I am doing these things because I have already mentioned at least two other reminder today, and if I mention any more they will instantaneously forget those previous.  Here I am doing these things because even though I am barely able to handle my own work load today, my coworkers cannot find a moment to get off of Facebook to earn their salaries.

Perhaps it's the coffee talking, but I feel like these are very basic skillz that I should not have to continuously remind people to improve... or develop.  If it were my place to give a verbal whooping, I'd be all over it; alas, I am mentoring/supervising my peers and so I must refrain.  

They tell me that in California, scientists are driven, enthusiastic and competitive in a supportive way.  I cannot express how much I yearn for this.

Can I get a "Rawr"?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

3am dirge

hello 3am Throughput deluge, you jerk.  i thought i made it clear that things were not going to work out between us.  back off.

see this coming much?  indeed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

stress management fail, Buffy and RagaDetox

A lot has gone down in the past 8 days.  Serious things like H.K. and Optimus Prius getting t-boned by a girl on her cell phone (H.K. is unharmed, O.P... not so much), bringing my young brother and his musician's gear home from college for the summer, sewage leaking underneath our kitchen which requires that H.K. and I live on the streets for several days this week, and family BBQ.  In addition, my boss has been away at a meeting and I have been left with Incompetence, Arrogance, a wonderful summer student, and the installation of and training on two new apparatus in the lab.

Smaller things that have gone down include an eye doc demanding that I expand the repertoire of my reading glasses to include computer-staring and T.V.-watching because my eyes have been blood red for a month now.  Never fear -- we ruled out iritis/uveitis, who were suspected based on prevalence in immunodeficient and Crohn's types.  Also on the list of less significant gripes is that while all of this was going on around me, I was also working on a manuscript, collecting data and taking care of my boss' mice, and cleaning up after Incompetence who continues to thoroughly live up to her name.

Needless to say, I died of tired on Sunday and have not yet recovered.  I need several days of incubating in my robe and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons... through closed burning eyeballs.

Either from the pain in my gut or eyes, or from the agonizing ordeal that is going to work every day lately, I have not been managing my stress smartly (enter the 5 cups of coffee and ~2 bottles of wine I consumed last week).  I have decided, therefore, to eliminate coffee and alcohol from my diet this week.  To some people, detox means flushing one's body with 8 cups a day of sunflower and stinging nettle teas and eating nothing but flax seed and green vegetables; RagaDetox just means no coffee or alcohol.

None of this sounds very remission-y.  But.  My boss is back in town, and things are beginning to look up... sort of.

Monday, June 6, 2011

of Crohn's and food cravings

When I was small -- and even during gymnastics when I had to carbo-load and be careful about protein and sugar balance -- I never had issues with food cravings.  That was an adult-onset thing.  Alternatively, it could have been a Prednisone-induced phenomenon.  Although it's well known that part of Prednisone Mania can include enhanced sweet tooth and weird food cravings during regimen, there seems to be no accessible record of either long term effects of these sort.  Then again, I haven't looked very scrupulously...

That I [and my medical journal of poo's and drugs] can recall, I started to have food cravings beginning after my first encounter with Prednisone when I was 16 (notice that I categorize 16 as "adult-onset").  Since then, I've only ever not had some degree of craving when I was nauseous.  Usually this is just a sweet tooth, but in my later years it has become refined to sushi, curries and Teriyaki chicken burgers*.  I have also expatiated on my inability to ignore food after a run to the grocery store, when the fridge and cupboards are replenished with veritable goodness.

In the past month, however, my cravings have subsided -- even in the [natural or coffee-induced] absence of nausea!  This is very uncharacteristic and, so far as I can surmise, unprovoked.  Am I just getting old?  Am I evolving from a stress-eater to a stress-starver?

*as an aside, why doesn't Google know how to spell Teriyaki?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

in which Remicade is a Mercedes Convertible, and I decipher Russo-English science

It has finally happened.  I -- organizational and scheduling fanatic -- have missed an infusion.  By two weeks.  How did this happen?, you may ask.  I'll tell you.

I rescheduled my infusion to be two days after I met with Dr. GI, so that if we decided to scrap the Remicade and move on to "sexier cars" (his words), I would have drug-free buffer room to start immediately.  In fact, what happened was that when the nurse rescheduled me, she in fact neglected to reschedule me.  So my appointment came and went, as did my alleged infusion date, and I called the clinic to see why they had no appointment for me.  "You were a no-show on the 14th," is what I was told.  "But I rescheduled for the 27th of May, I just did not receive a reminder from Epic as I typically do and so I have not yet been infused -- I must not have been rescheduled" I retorted.  "Oops," the nurse replied, not at all withdrawing the reprimand from her previous remark, mind you.

Not all that exciting a story, really, but I wanted to get your hopes up.  The recent increase in Throughput over the past two weeks may be in part because I am overdue for my drugging.  Dr. GI was firm in his conclusion that it is not because I've increased my veggie intake.  My miniature experiment wherein I ate only crackers/rice/broth for a day and produced a 50% decrease in Throughput the following 24 hr period was noted.  The 50% reduction did not convince him.  And since I've been buffering all my veggies with fluffy carby foods over the last week with no Throughput let-up, I am beginning to side with him.  It is possible that my notably increased nausea and dependence on Percocet to survive the evenings are weighing in.

So... I'm taking my Remi from the 8- to the 6-week interval -- perhaps the 4 -- and if in the coming two months I do not see improvement, I will concede to move on to "sexier cars".  For now, I will deliberate between Humira (the Benz), Imuran (the Lexus) or LDN (the Prius).  I refrained from challenging Dr. GI as to whether Imuran was a Lexus or, in fact, an Astin Martin.

Meanwhile, in my small corner of the world of science, I am reviewing my first manuscript as a Peer.  It has been translated from Russian, and while the findings are very exciting, the syntax, run-on sentences and hugely neglected Methodology section have been problematic for my novice brain.  I spent 6 hours on Sunday trying to get through this thing (during this same period, my boss pummeled through a 140 pg dissertation... pwned).

Something I am gleaning from my meager experience in reviewing and being reviewed is that reviewers tend to hope that you cite them in your work.  Often, when we (my lab) produce(s) manuscripts, we request reviewers whose work we cite in the present work.  The Russian paper from this weekend didn't cite any of our work anywhere, which was not really offensive so much as remarkable because their findings were so intertwined with ours, and supported by some of our previous publications.  They did not defend discrepancies between their data and that of other studies which they did cite (which was a weird door to leave open), nor did they speculate on the correlations within their own data set (also odd).  It is a very different experience to read a submitted manuscript than a published article.  I think I like it...