azurelunatic: Prayer to the Bastard from Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls (Default)
I have a follow-up appointment and pelvic exam with my surgeon on Friday. Purple and I were brainstorming items that the surgeon would not be expecting to find when inspecting the surgical site.

Kinder egg (without chocolate)
Kinder egg (chocolate and all)
Toy fire truck
whistle
kazoo
Slide whistle
Entire Google car (full size) (we were at the Five Guys on Rengstorff, so there were lots of them driving past; I saw three simultaneously at one point)
Tiny model uterus (he already took one out)
A crab. (Zodiac Cancer.)
azurelunatic: Prayer to the Bastard from Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls (Default)
Today was just a kind of great day all around.


I got some lovely quality time with someone important, and acted as an inadvertent muse for some writing. :)


It turns out that someone I have long been acquainted with via the internet is now local, and we met up for hot chocolate and gossip at Borderlands. I look forward to many more beverages-gossip-and-writing meetups as long as we remain local!

It turns out that when I'm forced to choose between Foreigner and Rosemary and Rue, I will go with Bren. They're for different things, with me, and the application here felt more like that one.


TMI )


There was dinner with a friend who was in from out of town. Purple had offered that he might be available, but teased me that he didn't *have* to be available, if it was that kind of dinner.

It was the kind of dinner where things that had previously been hinted at were made somewhat less oblique. It was also the kind of dinner where my phone decided to malfunction by turning itself off repeatedly, in a way that made me despair for its actual lifespan. Fortunately, applying power made it behave itself better. (Even though the battery was showing 30-something percent.)

It took us a while to actually successfully wish each other goodnight, as additional topics of discussion kept occurring. But I was home at a sensible hour, and gave Dawn the promised update. (My primary partner got first update.)

And tomorrow will be General Togetherness! Should be fun.
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Had dinner with Purple & Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly last night. (She disdains labels, but there are a few that fit well.) The topics of discussion included politics. Purple is the sort who generally holds most politicians in a similar class of petty evil, but he is sufficiently appalled by the president-elect (and was sufficiently appalled before the election).


But, this being our group, some levity must come at some point or other.
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... besides, of course, freaking out about the very real problems that come with the election results. (So far: likelihood of compromised health care, actual death(s) because of likelihood of compromised health care, likelihood of compromised sexual and reproductive health care for uterus-owners, actual increased racially charged violence, increased racially hateful verbal interactions including one of my friends-I-have-met-in-person being targeted, increased violence against same-sex couples, people who defy conservative gender norms...)

Ignoring my NaNo, somewhat guiltily. I will probably sit down with it sometime tomorrow.
Getting distracted, more so than usual.
Food, drink, meds, and exercise.
Tidying.
Talking to my baby girl, my other fishchildren, my morail, and others.
Retweeting things that seem helpful and important.
Retweeting cute animal pictures, because seriously.
Listening to "Anthem".
Listening to podcasts from September, because I'm not caught up.
Listening to the pre-election Rachel Maddow Show episodes that I hadn't heard, before facing the new ones.
Emailing Mama and Tay.
Spending time on IRC with the Freenode #dreamwidth (no politics) and #dreamwidth-bitch (politics allowed) crowds.
Spending time on IRC with #adventuresofstnono.
Communication with my Gentle Caller, via nearly every viable method of contact we have, because no matter what, we don't stop communicating. (Though we do take time out to do things like work, sleep, run errands, and watch things that make our brains feel less like used swiss cheese.)
Watching some of the Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency show. I think I was too young for the book when I read it, and/or on insufficient amounts of psychoactive drugs.
Talking about the fantastical cons of the concept of using dogecoin (for example) to fund California's affordable care plans, with Purple.
Testing exactly how waterproof our devices are, in Skype-showering with the Gentle Caller. (We have figured out the usual splash range of our respective showers, and leave the devices outside of that.)
Enjoying hot flashes. :\
Making social plans for Friday evening (Purple, and perhaps radius, yay!!!)
Making plans for the weekend (maybe a workshop in San Jose, and then likely dinner and helpfully mind-numbing video product with Purple)
Setting up Twitter list(s) for the friends I want to keep caught up with.
Poking at Facebook when I can, to maybe try and do some of the work of being human and vulnerable to people who want to love me but don't understand my pain.
Humming lullabies to sleeping friends.
Trying to fix my headset, which got a bit wrong with my phone. (I think the problem is my phone, but unpairing and re-pairing seems to have worked.)
Contemplating whether my phone is in fact in any fit state. (Parts of it keep crashing. It was not meant to run what I'm running on it.)
Wondering whether to apply for a 12 month contract locally. Because, 12 months.
Contemplating the minor physical indignity and tedium of dilators. (This is the OEM vagina that is not badly scarred experience of dilators. I hear that neovaginas are much less pleased by the experience.)
Sharing my experiences, generally, of hysterectomy.
Being generally and loudly fucking weird, in the way that only I can be.
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azurelunatic: Dying Spock saluting Kirk through heavy glass.  (spock)
Via any number of people, most of whom had the same idea.

Leonard Cohen, 1934 - 2016.



Lyrics. )
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My readers who don't have access have seen precious little of me lately (and I've been scarce locked as well). Two big reasons.

First, and most delightfully, I am in some sort of relationship; the details are still being worked out, but the important part is that we have each other now. So that's been taking a fair chunk of my social time.

Second, when they took out my uterus and its baggage, it wasn't good news, but it could have been worse. )


I lost my long-term job in February. (I've had some gigs, but nothing long-term or offering coverage.) When the host company switched contractor management providers in 2015, I lost the crappy insurance I'd had through the first contractor management joint. (It would have paid up to $10,000 of something -- which burns through pretty fast if something major happens. I was terrified that something major would happen, and avoided doing anything that would get me diagnosed with a pre-existing condition.) The new contract management joint didn't give health benefits to anyone in their first year. (People with good tech jobs whose workplaces use contract labor: apply pressure to make sure your contractors are taken care of, either individually or by their management companies.)

Since 2015, I've had health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. I was able to sign up after losing the crappy insurance. I picked a plan with good coverage and good reviews, as I was aware that I probably had lurking health issues, and it would finally be safe to treat them. A decade and a half of little to no health care and untreated depression will do a number on you. A decade and a half of consciously avoiding health care to avoid getting a "pre-existing condition" sentence on my record made me avoidant even when I did have coverage, so I wound up avoiding check-ups, avoiding things that would give me poison diagnoses in service of a future when it became a crisis and I would need to be covered. But in 2015, I finally got a diagnosis for my depression. (I should have been diagnosed in 1993. I should have been treated in 1993. I wasn't.) I got some other things diagnosed and treated.

Since my sweetie and I are polyamorous, we're being intentionally careful about our sexual health. On my end, we figured it would be a good idea for me to get some sort of long-acting contraceptive. (My opinions on body-birth for me were well-established; reversible was not a deep concern.) I'd heard that "vaginal bleeding" postcoitally was a sign of cancer, but figured that wasn't me; I had a PCOS diagnosis, and the blood was quite definitely coming from inside the uterus, even if it happened after sex.

PRO TIP: WHEN THE BLOOD IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE UTERUS, THIS COUNTS AS VAGINAL BLEEDING.

So I'm a cancer survivor now.

I'm still paying quite a lot for my insurance. But.
Under the Affordable Care Act, I still get insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act, if I switch insurers, my pre-existing conditions (cancer, depression, and other things) are still covered.
I don't have to worry about contraception anymore. My cancer ensured that I will never experience pregnancy or body-birth. But the Affordable Care Act would make sure that I could get access to contraception without worrying about the cost.

It's a fluke that I planned on becoming sexually active again this year. It was endometrial cancer gone rogue, so the surface cells of the cervix tested fine. I wasn't due another pap smear for years.

"How do you feel about having saved your partner's life?" a mutual friend asked my sweetie.
My sweetie looked uncomfortable: they didn't feel they'd done that much. Surely it would have been caught and treated, sooner or later.
Without them, it would have been later. Without them, it likely would have been post-ACA. I've seen friends struggle and beg to get live-saving operations that their insurance wouldn't cover. I thought we, as a country, were past that.


I still have conditions that can and will kill me if left untreated. The cancer may also spring up again. My best hope for a long and happy life is if I jump on a symptom immediately, even if I think it may not be a big deal. I'm scheduled for four pelvic exams a year for the next few, and it'll only drop off to yearly at the five year cancer free mark.

If the Affordable Care Act goes away without something better and more protective in place to catch the people who fall through the cracks of work insurance, private insurance, and insurance through a family member, I am likely to become uninsured. I tend to land jobs that put me above the poverty line, so programs intended to help out people in truly dire financial straits don't apply to me. The job that I worked four years and loved gave me utter crap insurance, because they were allowed to. The insurance disappeared after three years, because they were allowed to do that, too. The insurance I'm paying for now, under the Affordable Care Act, is still about 25% of the value of my rent. (Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area.)


In a future without the ACA, I'm looking at a few possible outcomes:

  • Hope my state continues to think it's a good idea to strongarm insurance companies into covering people like me.

  • Hope my insurance company thinks it's a good idea to keep covering people like me without government intervention. (Ha ha ha. Ha.)

  • Hope that I land a job that thinks it's worth paying to keep its employees healthy, and does not treat them as disposable once they get sick.

  • Hope that I can marry or otherwise become legally partnered with someone whose job thinks it's worth paying to keep its employees and their spouses healthy, and does not treat them as disposable once they get sick.

  • Hope that if there's someone willing to marry me and share their health care (among other reasons, hopefully), that it remains legal for us to marry.

  • Hope that I get a job that offers health care, at all, period. (The place that only offered health benefits after one year, and stopped employing people at the one year mark, that one was hilarious.)

  • Hope that I can continue to access all of my current medications.

  • Hope that I can continue to access the medications that keep me from dying painfully within the next 2-5 years, and the medications that keep my depression a temporary and treated problem rather than a likely permanent and lethal one. (Again, this is the first year since age 13 or so that I have felt that I'm no worse a suicide risk than any other member of the population without chronic depression.)

  • Hope I don't get sick. Hope the depression doesn't flare up. Hope the ADD lets me focus well enough to hold down a job. Hope I find a job that works with my sleep schedule, rather than against it. Hope the sleep schedule lets me hold down any job, period. Hope that any minor illnesses I get don't jeopardize my job. (Fun fact for those who have never worked a service-industry type job: you find yourself going to work contagious and miserable because you've got to save the sick leave for when you genuinely cannot function or need a doctor's appointment during your normal hours of work. A doctor's note for a multiple-day illness has you spending a day's pay on a doctor visit co-pay or urgent care fee, and the first day of absence may hit your attendance record anyway. Or, if you're a disposable temp, they'll just drop you, because they only care about you not being contagious in their office and they need someone to do the work.)

  • Hope my family doesn't bankrupt themselves trying to keep me alive if I get badly sick.

  • Die, maybe. Probably painfully, with the added indignity of trying to navigate a bureaucratic hell while doing so.


Every one of those options fills me with terror. Bad psychological stuff, and news of the sudden death of a member of my extended circles. )


I'm not okay right now. I've been crying off and on yesterday and today. I am afraid, and I don't know how much the protective bureaucracies that surround the executive branch will be able to shield health care access and workers' rights from the predation of cheap-labor conservatives and the gig economy.

I know I have it much, much better than many. I have a protective and loving family who will try to do what they can to keep me covered and alive. I live in a state that generally wants to take care of its people even when they do it bassackward. I am destined for a state that's of similar opinions.

I am lucky. And I'm terrified.
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  • Tue, 17:52: I voted! https://t.co/C0mwnj6Ppx
  • Tue, 18:23: I think it is time for me to go out drinking with my loved ones. Good luck, Twitter.
  • Tue, 21:52: Tonight is a great night to hug your loved ones.
  • Tue, 22:29: RT @AlsoWord: please dont hurt yourself if this man becomes president. he isnt worth your life.
  • Tue, 22:29: RT @watsonthanks: "don't let politics get in between your friendships" if you straight up voted for someone supporting conversion therapy w…
  • Tue, 22:47: RT @KetanJ0: Trump isn't the source of my anxiety. It's the hundreds of millions of people who are openly supportive of white supremacist s…
  • Tue, 22:57: I don't have a uterus anymore. Solidarity to those who do.
  • Tue, 23:21: RT @larkieswiftie: Retweet if you are: -A woman -An immigrant -LGBT+ -Muslim -African American -Latino/Latina -In any other way completely…
  • Tue, 23:45: RT @grimalkinrn: Get your IUD. If you have light periods, opt for a Paragard, which can last 10-12 years. Get your birth control that will…
  • Tue, 23:46: RT @ChuckTingle: please understand https://t.co/C9v80kgLxS
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2016-11-09 02:23
azurelunatic: Prayer to the Bastard from Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls (Default)
Today I waited for the phone to ring. It would have been a nurse, calling to discuss my recovery and answer questions about the dilators. (I can answer questions about my experience with them, if anyone is curious.)

45 minutes later, the phone had not rung. I swore a little to my Gentle Caller, and headed out to pick up a package and do my civic duty.

For all the trouble it caused, the package was ultimately simple. I presented the slip, the guy retrieved it, I signed for it.

Then I went to vote.

I was afraid there would be a queue. I was afraid that I might not be registered.

I was found in the great book of voters, and signed in. I got the slip with the little code to enter a vote on the machine. I was pointed to the far machine, with a chair.

The UI was a dial and a few buttons for forward and back and such. I made my selections. I went to submit my vote.

The machine lit up with a bright error, and screeching. It had lost communication with the printer. The screen instructed me to fetch a poll worker. I raised my hand.

Someone came over. I showed the error, and did my best to explain at what point the process had halted without having used one of these before. (Previously have been the mailed early ballots.)

I had not heard the printer, just screeching. Another poll worker was fetched. He guessed it was probably a loose connection, and set about disassembling the booth for percussive maintenance.

"I'm not looking at your ballot," he advised me, and I observed this to be true. He whacked and jiggled. The printer and entry tablet regained knowledge of each other, and a printing sound emanated. I compared my entries to the printed receipt, and found it good. I submitted my vote, requested my sticker, and stepped out into the sunset to take a post-vote selfie.

Upon reaching home, I saw that the nurse had emailed. It would have been helpful to tell me to not wait for a call...

I poked Purple, who was up for dinner. We talked uneasily about the election. We finished eating, and held terrified hands over the table.

Mama had emailed Tay and me first thing in the morning to remind us to vote. I sent her my stickered selfie.

Upon reaching home, I snuggled up to my Gentle Caller in chat and we stared at the results together.


Tonight, more than ever, it was necessary for us to hold each other as much as possible via the internet. I would be in their arms if I could. Alas, geography. Instead I will hold my nearby friends as I can.

My uterus is gone. It cannot be put back in me.
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