01 April, 2008

no. 17: in need of a push

I am slowly coming to the end of my rope. I have next to zero motivation to write my thesis (sad, I know, but my favourite part is coming up with the things to research, not explaining what I found), and all I have left is a bit of statistics and a whole lot of writing. Actually, I'm un-motivated in a NUMBER of categories. I'm in this weird limbo-land of confusing hints and non-hints from people in whom I think I might be romantically interested. And above all else, I have a confirmed diagnosis.

So, after, um, two months of elevated concern, results. A CT scan of my brain revealed nothing... which is great news, actually. Not having a tumor is always a good thing. And, quite frankly, had the scan revealed calcifications behind my optic nerve-eye connection, none of that would have explained away the whooshing sounds in my ears or the near-constant headaches. So, a neurologist was called in for additional explorations. And she requested a lumbar puncture. I know, I know, yikes, spinal taps are scary. But, truth be told, the actual tap procedure, aside from some momentary foot numbness when a nerve brushed the needle, was not bad. It was mildly awkward to have so many people staring at my back (the radiologist had a resident and an intern with him), but the procedure itself was ok. It was the aftermath of it that had me reeling. I had to lay on my side for something like 15 minutes. I got bored, but I also tensed up all my core muscles... to the point that it took a good three hours for them to un-tense and become sore. I thought I was going to fold in two it hurt so much. So, needless to say the next week was spent sleeping off incredible lower back pain. It was so bad I could hardly stay seated for more than 20 minutes the first three days. I am over that now, woo hoo!

The results of the test - which I could more-or-less have told (and did) people right after the test were this, officially learned from the neurologist mid-last-week: I have "mildly elevated" intracranial pressure. I was sitting at a surprising 270mm of water. Normal is anything under 200mm, but apparently pressures can be as high as 600mm (I kind-of think a person would be incapacitated by that point, or blind). The radiologist had the assignment of collecting 5ml of fluid for testing (just in case I had meningitis or something), and then let an additional 5-ish drain off to lower my pressure, lucky me! Had my back not been miserable, I felt golden. There was no wooshing in my ears of the blood and pressure, my head didn't hurt one bit, and I somehow felt lighter. That has since changed as my body rebuilds that pressure (for whatever reason, that's the beauty of having an "idiopathic" condition, no one knows why it happens). And I have been assigned a medication commonly given to those suffering altitude sickness. Thus far it makes me dizzy (not exactly a good idea if you're a mountaineer, one would think), my toes and fingers tingle numbly from time to time, and I get a bitter aftertaste in my mouth with some foods, but otherwise it seems to be doing the trick. I don't hear the wooshy noise in my ears as much, and the headaches are lessening. It's a gradually building scale of medication, and I had to chop a bunch of pills in half for this and the next week, since I'm to take 1/2 a pill for breakfast this week, and 1/2 a pill for breakfast and another 1/2 for supper next week, and then I graduate to a full pill... leaving me with a leftover 1/2, hmm... anyway, whatever, it seems to be working and that's what really matters, even if I AM dizzy and cookies don't taste all that exciting any more (sad sad sad).

I seem to like writing in reverse of my original lists. So bear with me, now about the 'romantic interests.' More like pipe dreams, really, but whatever. At least there's pseudo-hope on the horizon. I have not spoken to the person who makes me feel like Brer Rabbit since the initial e-mail disaster. And I feel better for it. He's tried sending me stuff, but I really... let's just say "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." On the other hand, the one I'd like to snog, well... I feel like I'm shouting into the abyss, not even an echo comes back... or a wisp of wind. It's like he doesn't even get my messages or e-mails, or maybe I'm the one who should be getting the message. ... which is fine. In the meantime, I've run into old friends. More precisely one old friend via the social networking disaster/boon that is facebook, and another acquaintance whom I think was more of a friend-of-a-friend at a recent concert - I feel bad, he remembered my name (*sigh* that's a good sign, right?) and I couldn't remember his, or where we knew eachother from (what a heel). The first one gave me his number out of the blue, and happens to study in the same field I'm in (though I'm at a more advanced level... whatever), and the second is working on the revolution from the inside, and we've become facebook friends. I dunno... I may move at the pace of a snail, but there are still encouraging signs making their way towards me. I think. I think.

Unmotivation in a number of categories, let's see: finding a job post graduation, finishing off my mittens and other various knitting projects (that nightie is still at the beginning stages, because who has time to knit lace when there are blogs to read and movies to see and sunshine and just about every other procrastination tool out there?), finding an apartment or whatever to rent when my lease runs out here in June, filing my taxes one doesn't get refunds if one doesn't submit, figuring out what the hell it is I'm doing with my life. The list goes on, I won't bore you.

And the thesis. Let me say this now so it's out of the way: I hate statistics. I understand why they are useful, and why one is expected to use them in scientific explorations, but that doesn't make me like them. I am thoroughly flabbergasted by the extent to which one has to manipulate data in order for statistical procedures to "work" and the juggling and manipulation one has to go through in order to make sense of everything that comes out of the analyses. As for writing, I don't know when it happened, but I seem to have become one of those people who gets hung up on the niggling, unfinished details instead of creating the matrix in which to stuff those details once they are done. So I am wasting hours trying to mess around with my data such that it works, creating graphs and making diagrams instead of writing something, anything, whatever. I really need to get going on this stuff too. It would be delightful to have my methods and results (ha!) done by the end of the month, even just partially, and then to have time to read papers and write introductions and discussions while chauffeuring students through the forest... Oh, wouldn't that be nice? But nooooo, I can't get myself going. Tonight, right now, magic... I am writing a blog instead of working on my thesis. Really, I just need to spew some (as one of my fellow thesis-writers says) "word vomit" on the page and get the ideas flowing. At least then I'd have something. ANYTHING would be good right now.

It's like cabin fever times ten, only this ain't no cabin, it's a paper, and I HAVE to finish it. My future more-or-less depends on it.

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