Friday, June 20, 2014

The Doctor got to witness a full-blown flareup...

The only reason I was wearing pants was because I had to be out of the house. I mean, we all know the curative properties of not wearing pants, right? That's why we can get men in kilts in these modern times. (that's just my theory)

So, let me begin by saying there will be photos at the end. I'm still doing those Countdown to Bristol photos, but Wednesday, I went to a track day event at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit. As you may know, my son rides a motorcycle (called a "crotch rocket" by the masses, apparently). He took part in a track day, hosted by at that raceway. That morning, a very severe thunderstorm rolled through. It rained so hard that they had to delay the start of the event. I was soaked completely through and it was a tad bit chilly. So, I was already in the early stages of what would become an intense flareup. After a couple hours, I decided to go home, because I couldn't take photos in the rain. About a half hour after I returned home, I got a text telling me it had stopped raining and it was a go. So, I went back. I was only there a couple hours before the heat got to me, but I did get a good set of photos.

And then, the next day, I had a fasting lab and a checkup at the VA hospital in Madison. That two-month long flareup I've been having? Not a flareup. Apparently, that can be a signal that the treatment has stopped working (I take 30 mgs of muscle relaxers a day, 10 in the AM and 20 in the PM). The doctors decided to try me out on whatever the generic version of Effexor is called (Venlafaxine, in case you dislike the Googles). My first question was: "Isn't that an antidepressant?" The doctor said it was and I said: "I'm not depressed." She then said that in the low dosage, it has no effect on depression, but it seems to help people with fibromyalgia and other nerve issues (like neuropathy, which I have in mild forms in my feet and hands, related to the fibro).

I looked it up online and skipping all the "POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE:" parts, I read up on the drug and what it does and how it helps pain people. The overwhelming reviews seem to like it. A lot of people gave it a 10 of 10, saying how it was the best thing ever. A few people said it didn't kill the pain, but it helped A LOT and gave it an 8 or 9 of 10. There were a very few it didn't help and even a handful of 5 of 10 ratings who had the review like: "It helped with my pain, but it made me very constipated..."

It helped with the pain but since I have to eat a bran muffin or take extra fiber, I'm going to give it a 5 of 10. Well, alright then.

I hope I have good results. Because it'd be nice to be normal again. Or a little closer to normal. I have friends now who have never seen me without pain. It'd be a new thing for them to see. I think they'd like the new me. Which is, incidentally, the old me. Which is, oddly enough, the younger me.

That's enough of the rip in the space-time continuum.

I still hurt today, but not like yesterday. I'm wearing pants today, not because I have to, but because I can. There are two weeks till the opening weekend of Bristol and I just hope the weather can settle down. We've had the most crazy weather the last few months. I can tell. I'm a human-sized barometer. Well, I'm a larger than human-sized barometer.

Now... THE PHOTOS. All taken with my Nikon D5100 and a zoom lens.
 The link to the whole album on Facebook.

Taken through my windshield and the chain link fence.


I got out of my truck for this shot.

Jason going by...

Jason- on the track

Coming up around the curve

Third pass...

This is Cody, Jason's friend.

Cody on the turn

Jason on turn 3

Jason on turn 3

Jason on turn 3

Jason on turn 3

Most of the panning shots (Jason's included) are straight out of the camera. The RAW files didn't need any adjustments. I resized them for Facebook and Flickr (slightly higher res for Flickr).

Cody on turn 4

I think this is my favorite shot of the day. All I can think of when I see this is my high school photography teacher, Mrs. Richmond.

She had a policy in class that if you handed in an assignment late, she'd deduct points off your grade per day of lateness. I handed in my panning assignment two days late and I still got an A on it. There was a note on the back (where she wrote the letter grades) that said something like: "This was too perfect to give it anything but an A, but I didn't give you an A+." (I stood on the sidewalk on DeBarr Road, between Norman and Edward Streets and took photos of passing cars. There was an empty lot there, next to Debarr Building Supply back then).

27 years later and I still want to make her proud.

Cody on turn 4

Cody on turn 4

Cody on turn 4

Cody on turn 4

This is just some random guy. It was the last shot I took while waiting for the gate to open so I could leave.

Track Day at Blackhawk Farms Raceway

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"In case you forgot how much it can suck..."

"... here's a full-blown, all-out, no-holds-barred, knock-you-to-the-floor, kick-you-in-the-face, steal-all-the-candy, set-your-skin-on-fire, cause-muscle-spasms-all-over-the-place flareup of pain!" ~Fibrofuckingmyalgia

Sunday was an incredibly stressful day. After my last blog post where I was up all night, I ended up having a medical scare with the spouse. Here's the blog I wrote about that- "A Cautionary Tale of "What the fuck were you thinking!?"

Today's major pain increase started late on Sunday. Then Monday was almost pure hell. I've been having that all-over pain. That kind of pain that feels like you've worked out too hard and didn't cool down properly. And then you sit on the mat and cry, rocking back and forth, while wailing: "I should have listened to Coach Shaw! I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO COACH SHAW!" because he was always telling you to warm up and cool down properly.

All my muscles are tight and sore. They're so sore that moving and lifting things (even a thing as light as a bottle of water) makes them hurt more. When I picked up a bowl of cereal yesterday, I felt like I was lifting a heavy weight that I inexplicably filled with milk and strawberry Shredded Wheat. My skin feels like a giant bruise. A giant, hot bruise that hates clothes so much that it is making everywhere my clothing touches, burn like fire. Not just "owwww, flames all over my body" fire, but that burning and prickling kind of fire that feels like you were set on fire and thrown into a cactus garden.

I'm beginning to worry that this more-than-a-monthlong flareup is the New Normal and that what I'm having now is going to be the new normal to flareups. I hate New Normals. There isn't nothing new or normal about them. And yet, there they are, ruining your day, messing up your plans, making your clothes look out of style, and giving you a goofy haircut. Just like that aunt who went to six months of beauty college and dropped out.

I forgot what I was talking about.

So, I'm going to show you some photos. I've started making up photos to countdown to opening day at Bristol. Because everything will be alright when faire starts.

These are all links to the posts on Tumblr. And the photos are (obviously) from last year at Bristol. I decided to link to the posts because I also included the Facebook and website links for Bristol and whatever was in the photo.

Thee Bluebeard


Sir Edgeron

GSM-Bristol "Education AND Explosions!"

Uplifting Experience

Hashtag Gossip

Don Vincenzo

Captain Frobisher

Queen Elizabeth

GSM-Bristol wants YOU!

Chastity Trollop

Sir Maxx's heavy metal high-five

Captain Hawkyns

Sir Mauldron

Huzzah, Sir Edgeron

Flight of the Raptor

Countdown to Open Wide the Gates!

*"I've got an axe! Let's open 
those gates!" ~Sir Mauldron

*not an actual quote

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Realization!

Let me get this out of the way first: Day 50 of this goddamn flareup. I've had varying days of pain degrees and today (Saturday, even though this is now Sunday) was pretty bad (because I'm calling early-morning Sunday "Saturday" because I'm still awake). And now, onto "The Realization"...

I've joked before that I'm a superhero. People have often said to me: "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" and my smartass reply to that has always been: "Then where's my cape, because I'm a fuckin' superhero by now."

On top of that obvious super-human strength I most obviously have by now, I also have the Wolverine-like ability for quick healing. Not the whole "push a bullet from my skull" power, of course, but I heal so quickly that my scars don't have time to catch up and often turn out ugly and snakelike. I healed so quickly from my knee replacement that the ligaments in the front area of my knee became so tight from scar tissue that they had to put me under general anesthesia to bend my knee and break it down. (the doctor's exact words were: "Just snap, crackle, and pop, and we got you to [a] 90 [degree angle].")

But the other day, I had a realization. You see, I know some incredibly talented people through the renaissance faire. I know actors who are so beautiful, they should be models. They're also so talented in their acting ability that when they step out of those oh-so-familiar ren faire roles, they move me to tears. And I know jousters, who do an amazing show with full-impact, full-plate jousting... and they're my age! And, I know a trio of acrobats, known collectively as "Barely Balanced". And they uploaded a video of their rehearsal the other day... let's watch...

The Disabled Guy was walking by just before Cameron climbed up to his position and made me back it up so he could see it from the beginning. He stammered: "Is he- that girl- what's this called?"  I told him they were called Barely Balanced and they're the daredevil acrobat troupe that I know from faire. He continued to watch in awe as the video went on. I said: "You see that? You see what they're doing? Yeah, and then there's me- I have trouble getting up off the sofa if I sit too long. I'm like an upturned turtle. Meanwhile, Jimmy is holding everybody up with his feet, Margret is holding Cameron up with her thighs and they're juggling..."

And that's when I realized it.

I'm not a superhero.


I'm a supervillain.

That's right, I don't wear a mask and cape of truth and justice. I'm at the other end of the spectrum. Just like Pulp Fiction and Die Hard were in "Unbreakable". He said: "They call me Mister Glass!" and spoiler alert, he wasn't actually glass.

But here I am, upturned like a turtle, struggling to get to an upright position so I can struggle and pull myself to my feet before I limp to the other room. And here we have someone like Margret, who juggles fire while having her body balanced and compressed between two men's dirty man-feets. She balances herself using only the muscles in her amazing abs, while Cameron juggles razor-sharp blades over her while he stands on her shins and Jimmy is supporting them both, with his giant Jimmy-feets.

And I've eaten a single banana for breakfast because the very act of pouring cereal in a bowl, adding milk, and then eating it with a spoon is too exhausting to even fathom. If I have to sit around my house, I prefer my desk chair because I can get out of it the easiest (because it has arms that I can use for support). And then we have Margret...

So, all that's left is choosing my supervillain name. Something that tells the world who I am and what my supervillain-y power is and why they should fear me.

"Muscle Spasm"... no, that's more of a sidekick's name.

"Charlie Horse"... jeez, not that either. That's a sidekick's pet's name.

"The Blub"... no way. That's the comedy relief character.

"Dead Weight"... that's a little better.

"Gravitational Pull"... there you go. That's the one.

Gravitational Pull- I create my own orbit. Call me "Grav" for short.

No, don't call me "for short", I'm already short enough.

GRAVITATIONAL PULL [Pull.... pull... pull...] (that's echoing, just go with it)- the very name strikes fear and uncertainty into the hearts of good, law-abiding, cereal-eating citizens all around the world.


*slowly flails arms and legs like an upturned turtle*