No cancer! I went to the doctor for my follow-up and received the best news I could’ve desired: no cancer found in the biopsy and no need for surgery. The final diagnosis was enchondroma (the smallest he’s ever seen, according to the resident who gave me the news). I have to follow-up with yearly X-rays to monitor any changes, but it’s rare for it to become aggressive or turn into a chondrosarcoma. Basically, I have cartilage where I should have bone. It’s commonly found when running diagnostics for unrelated injuries, which is how mine was discovered. I’m so relieved that I can set this one worry aside.
This is what it looks like on an MRI [add image]
Day 304, Tuesday
Woke up with renewed energy but it was a difficult morning. Had to take it slow.
Day 305, Wednesday
Feeling a little overwhelmed with projects. Whenever this happens, I make a list, so I whipped out my Daily Momentum Planner pad and made a schedule of activities for the day.
In other news, I bit the bullet and ordered a new, plush chair for my desk. I’ve been using a cheap, plastic IKEA chair for years, and it has served me well, but I’m over it. If 2020 taught me anything, it’s to invest in my comfort.
Day 306, Thursday
Completed a bunch of little tasks that have been piling up for weeks but took less than an hour to complete (my hesitance was the going out part…).
I’ve been feeling dejected about not writing since I wrapped up the manuscript, but I had to remind myself that I literally had minor surgery and an emotional hangover following this week’s diagnosis. I’ll get back to it on Saturday.
Day 307, Friday
Started my morning with cramps and a morning meeting. Sigh.
Signed up for an online writing conference and revision workshop. It’s been too long since I invested in my writing. This will be motivation for the next phase.
Day 308, Saturday and Day 309, Sunday
Completed the initial review of edits I left for future!Gricel (ie. today!Gricel) and caught up on two weeks worth of laundry that I neglected while recuperating from the biopsy. Unusual tiredness on Saturday heralded the arrival of a mild migraine on Sunday.
Back to work. I was convinced that the semester started today, so imagine my surprise when I realized it won’t start until next week. I guess that’s a good thing since I have the biopsy scheduled for Wednesday. Really hoping it leads to a diagnosis (and REALLY hoping it’s not a bad one).
Day 297, Tuesday
Started my morning at the crack of dawn to prep for a quick grocery trip. The biopsy shouldn’t require much recovery if all goes well, but I wanted to take care of all the house stuff in advance, just in case. It’s nice and chilly this morning (what the local news calls “comfortable” weather). I wore a blazer and leggings to go shopping because why ever not at this point?
I didn’t get much sleep. I continue to wonder if the pain in my arm is caused by the lesion or the muscle strain that refuses to heal… Sadly, I’m used to living in pain. I can’t even tell which pain I’m feeling anymore. I hate it. Part of me wonders if the lesion is the reason I’ve always had a hard time doing push-ups or downward dog (I get shoulder pain if I hold too long or do too many). I always figured I have weak arms. Maybe not.
In preparation for the biopsy, I watched a video and almost wish I hadn’t. I’m glad that I’m prepared but I’m not sure I was ready for the visual of a big ass needle being hammered into the patient’s arm.
I am on week 5 of an 8 week workout plan, but I think I may be going on hiatus for a few days…
Day 298, Wednesday
Biopsy went as planned and our democracy was under attack. I was awake for all of it (on both counts).
Day 299, Thursday
I should’ve taken the day off, could barely move my arm, though it’s more swollen than painful. Feels like I got punched in the arm, which I guess is more or less what happened.
Day 300, Friday
Wow, just 65 more days until this log becomes a year. A bit more mobility today, but still unable to lift my arm or lift anything, really.
Day 301, Saturday
Starting to return to normal mobility, but occasional twinges of pain if I reach too quickly or lift my arm without thinking. I planned to return to editing this weekend, but my arm hurts if I reach for the laptop for a sustained period of time.
Released another of my mom’s rescued creatures; this time, a young Muscovy duck.
Day 302, Sunday
Went to check on the young duck an he seems to be doing ok, but he seems to have a limp. At least he’s in a safer place than the parking lot he came from.
Follow-up appointment is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Hoping for a good outcome.
Second and last week of vacation before returning to my WFH desk life. I took the time to indulge in good food, sweet treats, and time with my partner. There were walks, solo Just Dance marathons, a return to my Animal Crossing island, and a few socially distant explorations.
I started using my new bullet journal and felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I finished draft 3 of my current manuscript. Next step: recruit betas and review the notes I scattered throughout the draft for future fixes (the future is now!).
It was a struggle to revise draft 2; it coincided with the start of my WFH life and the terrible anxiety and depression that marked those early months. Still, I pushed through and finished draft 3 a month ahead of schedule.
In total, I spent 214.62 hours editing and revising (including a major development edit and a thorough revision), spread across 10 months beginning in March. Draft 1 was completed January 2020. In February, I reviewed the draft and prepared my notes for revision. Now, I’m enjoying that brief sense of relief before I dive back into the manuscript. My goal is to query BYCMB this year and plot a rewrite of Anuna (COI), which I stopped querying at the end of 2019 (but that’s a longer story and may become a self-publishing adventure).
I hope you too had an indulgent and satisfying end to what may be the worst year in many of our lifetimes. 2016 was one of my worst years for many reasons, but 2020 is a close second.
Went to the doctor. Still don’t know what the growth is, but it’s not a liquid cyst, so I’m going in for a CT guided biopsy. Sigh. She’s still fairly positive it’s not aggressive, but I’m starting to consider the very likely possibility that this will be a surgery rather than a watch-and-wait situation.
Because it’s not going to be a regular Christmas, I popped a fresh mask on and went to visit my mom and gran so I could hand them their presents. I sat by the door and recorded them from a distance. There is a very real chance that this will be the last Christmas my grandmother is lucid enough to sit up in a chair and chatter along, even if she no longer has control of her vocabulary. It’s been a melancholy year.
Day 283, Tuesday
In light of the fact that my dad is also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, I masked up again and sat outside his building to give him his present. There’s a dog park in his building and some long, shady benches, which make it easy to spend some time with him at a safe distance, though I’ve been loathe to take the risk in the last few months (not that the people who live with him have been taking similar precautions, I’m always worried for him).
Day 284, Wednesday
Today was for me. I’m nearly done with the current draft and might be finished by the end of the month at this pace, so I focused on writing for much of the morning despite a lingering pressure headache that refuses to go away.
I’ve been recording my days for a week in the life vlog, so that’s been a fun side project. I also uploaded a new Study with me/Write with me video that I recorded last week.
Day 285, Thursday
Happy Christmas Eve! Noche Buena to mi gente. Normally, this would be a night for family gatherings and dinner with my loved ones, but this year I’ll be doing takeout with the boy in a well ventilated space. I’ve been buying takeout at least a few times a month to support local businesses and give myself a break from cooking and cleaning. My diet has been more varied and experimental than ever, which I enjoy, but the cleaning is the worst.
Day 286, Friday
Happy Christmas! It was a different sort of Christmas for us all, but a lovely day overall in my experience. The boy rigged a screen up in his yard so we could watch WW84 while keeping our distance and I baked a cake for both of us to share.
We recorded a special episode of the podcast all about our cozy favorites that aired as this year’s Christmas special. You can find it at The Bluestocking Circle.
Day 287, Saturday
Back to writing. Lots of cleaning (I purchased the WORST cat litter ever and it keeps getting on EVERYTHING. I’ve had to vacuum every day this week).
Day 288, Sunday
Another day of writing and taking care of stuff around the house. Edited a collection of clips for a week in the life vlog that will be going up soon. Follow me on YouTubefor updates.
Every day, the numbers in the tri-county area are going up and Miami is getting closer to the kinds of numbers we were seeing in July and August. This gives me the same level of hopelessness I felt this summer. I hate it. Wear your masks, everyone. And if you’re coming to Florida for the theme parks or the beaches, remember we’re open because our economy is based on tourism, not because it’s safe.
Day 226, Monday
A busy start to the week with another trip to the vet for Cookie Cat, this time to re-test for FIV. His last test was inconclusive and I need him to be clean before I can bring him home to live with my super delicate little flower of a girl kitty.
Worked on projects that were piling up now that one of my working groups is sort of done… I think. Anyhow, I’m in between tasks for that one so I get to catch up on everything else.
Day 227, Tuesday
Great news! Cookie Cat is clean! I’m not 100% ready for a new addition, but keeping him indoors is the best option for him and my mom already has one secret cat too many in her apartment. I already had a collar for him (was saddened when the first test came back inconclusive), so I ordered a tag to go with it. I need some more supplies to ready for his arrival since I retired Candy Bear’s bowls when he passed. He’s a sweet boy, so I’m hopeful that he’ll get along with baby girl (she has a grumpy face but a sweet temperament).
Day 228, Wednesday
Day 1 of an online conference… Not as enthused about this one as I was the last one I attended. And I’m on the planning committee (yikes). It’s kind of a mess IMO. The online format leaves a lot to be desired for this one. (some do online well, some don’t)
Day 229, Thursday
Underwhelmed by day 2 of the conference, so I spent most of the day writing and catching up on some much needed rest (migraine broke last night, so I was feeling good for the first time in days). Did some cleaning in preparation for Cookie Cat’s homecoming tomorrow. Fingers crossed Also, recorded a short life update because it’s been months and I never bothered to upload the last one I recorded.
Day 230, Friday
Cookie Cat came home. It was an uneventful homecoming. Waiting to see how they react to each other. Got my MRI results. My shoulder is fine but there was a concerning spot on the image. It’s likely a nonaggressive cartilage tumor, according to the radiologist’s report, but they recommend further study. I made an appointment for my PCP per the ortho’s recommendation but I’m feeling pretty low. Wondering if I should reach out to a specialist rather than wait. Had the long-coming, inevitable political fight with my mom. She’s old Cuban. In Miami, that means one thing.
Day 231, Saturday
It was a rough night. Between the cats being too scared and intimidated by each other, I didn’t get much sleep. Add my anxiety about the MRI results and it was not a restful time. I woke up with a very stiff neck, soreness in my arm where the strain was aggravated by poor posture, and one heck of a migraine that made me nauseous for hours. I puttered around the house, tidying and trying to encourage the cats to get closer. Not much luck to start. Squeezed in a 25 minute writing sprint to wrap up a scene, which leaves me with my most productive month of editing, clocking in at 30:32 hours. It’s been a struggle to get into the headspace I need to revise this novel. It’s a romance with a heavy dose of angst leading up to a friends-to-lovers HEA, but getting to that HEA means I have to work through my own anxieties to find the mental space to write. Every time I think I’m moving forward, something throws me off.
Day 232, Sunday
Happy first day of NaNoWriMo! I’m sort of participating as a rebel while continuing edits. Also told myself I would be more active in the community this year. We’ll see how well that goes, but if anyone wants to add me as a buddy, I’m @emperatrix.
Sleep was not had last night. The cats are still skittish around each other and Cookie Cat wants love but also runs away when I approach. Apparently, this is normal behavior for him. It’s going to take a while for him to be comfortable, but I REALLY need sleep. sigh.
All that to say, my weekend writing plans were all a bust, but I managed to wrap up a chapter.
For the curious, I filmed a brief October recap/life update. It’s short because my connection can’t handle a massive upload, but such is the current state of affairs (I really miss the ludicrous speed of the university network). Also, filmed before the latest development in my health journey.
Finally, if you need something to listen to while dealing with the existential dread of the upcoming election, the latest episode of The Bluestocking Circle Podcast on Ella Enchanted is now available. I didn’t enjoy the book, but the movie was an experience.
Was in a meeting where folks were discussing their recent increase in meetings… meanwhile, I have three meeting-free days this month, excluding two days for an online conference. None of those include the two new committees I am now a part of, and none are related to the move to remote. If I was working on-campus, I would still be attending the same number of meetings.
Day 205, Tuesday
I took a look at my schedule and realized I had nothing pressing until after lunch, so I grabbed my ballot and headed to the elections office to drop it off. My vote is in. I hope some good comes of it.
Day 206, Wednesday
Off to the ob-gyn for my yearly wellness exam. She also thinks my arm pain is a knot in my muscle rather than something internal, but I’m still waiting on an approval for the MRI…
Day 207, Thursday
And off to the doctor again for my yearly physical. My OBG and GP are a husband/wife pair and both were open about their views on the current administration’s response to COVID and their personal bout with the virus. Both caught it, along with one their kids. His case was worse (he developed pneumonia and fainted several times), but his wife and daughter developed tremors after recovering. It sounded frightening but weirdly reassuring. Like I too might have a chance… Still, he told me, “keep doing what you’re doing if you haven’t caught it.”
Day 208, Friday
Back to the grind… I blocked out a few hours for a pressing project, but it still wasn’t enough. Spent the night reading so I could away from the screens.
My BF reached the let-my-girlfriend-give-me-an-undercut stage of not being a fool in a pandemic. It was my first time using clippers but it went well!
Day 209, Saturday
Mild migraine rolled in with the storm clouds, but managed to head it off with a low dose of advil. I started laying off the advil after I noticed it was making me retain water in a concerning way, but it’s one of the only pain killers that works for me with some success. Managed to get a few hours of writing in before it wore off, but no rebound headache yet fingers crossed
I used to have regular dessert dates on the weekends, just quick trips to a local bakery for treats and coffee, but those stopped at the start of the pandemic. Today, I took a chance and stopped at one of my old haunts for a small cake for myself and cheesecake for the boy. There were two people eating inside but they left shortly after I arrived, and it took less than 15 minutes, so the risk felt less dire than my recent trips to the doctor.
It was delicious.
Day 210, Sunday
Alternated between writing, cleaning, and paying bills/checking my budget. Decent amount of energy too. Days like today me feel almost normal, which is kind of sad if I think about it too closely.
I’ve been using Notion to plan my weeks, as an addendum to my planner, and it’s making the start of my week so much more predictable and effective. It’s nice to be able to mark tasks off and brainstorm all in one place; it’s really helping me find a new groove now that my committees are starting up again.
Day 191, Tuesday
Grocery time! I never got around to doing a proper grocery trip in August for numerous reasons, but then I sprained my ankle and I COULDN’T go to the store until now. Living off Amazon Fresh orders is fine and dandy, but the variety isn’t the best, and their adherence to sell-by dates is often questionable. It was so nice to buy fresh produce again.
Also, took my first real walk since the sprain and it was a challenge. This is going to be a slow recovery.
Day 192, Wednesday
In an effort to rebuild my strength (and get out of a physical rut), I started an old workout program that I followed a few years ago. I won’t name them here because I don’t agree with their approach to diet, but the exercise plan is easy enough to adapt for my current needs and is helping me feel a bit less bleh. My ankle has more mobility, but my gait is still stiff. I need all the strengthening I can get if I’m ever going to get back to running, let alone walking more than a short distance.
Day 193, Thursday
One of those marathon meeting days. Not the first this week, but the longest… Also, announced my intention to continue to work remotely for the Spring semester. I miss my office, but I’m also not willing to take the chance when the offer is available. I’ve dealt with enough health struggles to risk it and I refuse to give in to the capitalist mentality that tells us to sacrifice our personal well-being for the sake of a company or institution. mic drop
Day 194, Friday
I’ll be working this weekend, so I most of the day off in exchange (had a meeting I couldn’t miss). It felt GLORIOUS to lay in bed for an extra hour, and take my time over coffee and a nostalgic Toaster Strudel breakfast (saw two random strudels on my socials and had to satisfy the craving). It’s also been incredibly productive. Sometimes, a day off during the week results in more getting done than a three-day weekend.
Day 195, Saturday
Working backup on the chat desk, so I blocked my morning off to get stuff done and spent the 6-hour session reading on craft, watching tutorials and writing advice on YouTube, and taking care of tasks in the background. I dislike weekend chat (I have reasons) but I committed to making the best of it.
Day 196, Sunday
Made vegan French Toast to use up the “just” eggs bottle that the boy bought (he was curious). Anyone who tells you that it tastes “just” like eggs has not had an egg in a very long time… it feels like rubbery eggs and tastes weirdly of steamed broccoli (that’s the only way I can describe the way it smells and tastes). It’s not bad but it also needs a lot of dressing up so it doesn’t taste weird. Lots of cinnamon helps.
Felt a hormonal migraine coming on, so I took two advil and… fell asleep. I don’t think it will keep it away, but maybe it will keep it from ramping into a full blown volcano of pain.
And then we reached the “cut my own ends” stage of “I’m not fool enough to go to the salon” times. It went well.