Updates - Health, Coding and Motivation by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web

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Updates - Health, Coding and Motivation
Updates - Health, Coding and Motivation by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web
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9/13/2019
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This posting is primarily just a set of updates and a small peek into what has been going on in my life lately, serving mostly as an explanation as to why I haven't done squat here on my site for so long. I doubt it will be all that interesting, but who knows, right?

First and foremost, for quite some time I have been dealing with a variety of health related issues which have worn me down, physically and (especially) mentally, and I am honestly beyond exhausted. It's nothing too serious (as far as I know), but it has grown quite old. I won't go into a load of detail here, but a brief list includes constant fatigue and pain (muscles and joints), semi-frequent dizzy spells, a significant loss of strength, and some memory issues (mostly short term, though long term is sometimes hit and miss).

There is also this rash on my back that was there for about 5 years or so before getting it looked at last year; I cannot see my back, at all, so I didn't know how bad it was until my wife took a picture and showed me. She always described it as 'red marks/dots' which honestly doesn't sound that bad, and there was no discomfort (no pain, no itch, nothing), so I never bothered bringing it up to a doctor (not that I see doctors that often, but that's a different story).

After seeing what it actually looked like however, it did seem potentially noteworthy. So about a year ago I made an appointment with my doctor to get it checked out (technically it was because I got bitten by an ants, probably a fire ants, and my foot had a severe reaction, but two birds and all).

My doctor checked it out, and then called in another doctor. The second opinion (if you will) mentioned a potential for Lupus (at which point my brain went right to, "IT'S NEVER LUPUS!" and I am not even exaggerating when I say it took every ounce of strength in me to NOT verbalize that).

My doctor put me on a steroid, primarily for the ant bites and the swelling it had caused (my foot looked like a goddamned potato), but she did note that the steroid could help with the rash as well, especially if it was in fact Lupus. She also ordered some blood work to test this theory (or as it turned out, to start the testing of the theory as testing for Lupus is way more involved than a simple blood test).

The blood work came back with, I guess, 'indicators' of Lupus (my doctor seemed rather convinced, but did say that a specialist would have to make the final determination). I saw the results myself thanks to the miracles of modern technology, but I can't really make heads nor tails of them. Saying it looked like jibberish would be an absolute understatement (I'm pretty sure I saw blueprints to some sort of spacecraft in there). But with the results in, my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist who ordered his own set of blood work.

I'm going to go ahead and summarize here; the rheumatologist does not think that I have Lupus, and it sure seemed that way from the beginning (even before ordering his extended blood panel). I had a follow up appointment with him back in May, which I canceled; his visits are $35 a pop, and for me that's just a lot of money to spend on someone who stated more than a few times that he didn't think there was any rheumatological issue. I should probably either see him one last time, or arrange a second opinion, but I honestly just feel... defeated.

It's not helping that some of the more mental issues I have been dealing with are a feeling of deep depression and a severe lack of motivation (another reason right there alone that I have not done shit on my site here in quite some time).

Something of interest, in my opinion at least, is that the steroids did clear up that rash, for a few months or so anyway. I've been put on steroids several times now, with the rash coming back quicker and quicker each time to the point where the last round of steroids only helped for about a week. Yes, about a week after ending the steroids, the rash had already started to come back.

Oh, and in between my first rheumatology visit and now, after one of the times the rash came back, I was referred to a dermatologist who took a biopsy, which was an experience... Now, this may just be spotlighting my own ignorance, and that's fine; it's not like skin biopsies are a common thing in my world. But I honestly just assumed that a biopsy of a skin rash would simply involve a scraping (if you will) of a single layer of skin where the rash is, maybe even two layers. So I seriously was not prepared for what this biopsy actually entailed.

Now, a bit of setup. First of all, this is taking place in the 'South'; I feel that that is important. Second, the dermatologist was a pretty 'chill' guy; he wasn't a comedian by any means, but he was a bit jokey and quippy, and pretty relaxed. I feel that detail is important as well. Finally, just to reiterate, I cannot see my back! I am not Regan after all.

So, I'm sitting there on the table with my shirt off. The first step was to numb the area, which definitely worked. Once that was done, he said that I may feel a bit of pressure as he took the biopsy (he was wrong, that numbing agent worked rather well). He said that they were done (there were two doctors working) and that they were going to clean everything up; kind of weird, but ok. Then, all done! I put my shirt back on, and he started walking me out.

The first thing he said, and at this point we were still in the room, was that he would walk me up to the front so I could schedule an appointment to get the stitches out; I laughed, this was quite the joke! After all, they were just taking a small layer of skin off, right? So of course there would be no need for stitches.

On the walk towards the front desk, he said it would take a week or so for the results to come in, and that I'd be notified, yadda yadda. Then he whips out a little vial of some kind of fluid, with a much larger than I expected chunk of skin! It was like the discarded part of a stack of papers that had been hole punched for something larger than the standard 3 ring binder!

This was quite the shock, but I think I handled it well; very loudly I blurted out "OH GOOD CHRIST!" Again, in the South, and right by the reception desk I might add, which includes the waiting room that happened to be full of people.

Oh, and the results? Pretty much nothing specific. Some skin reaction of an unknown something, big words, big words, with no answer (not just in the words of the dermatologist, but my primary as well). Recommendation? Steroids. Oh, and the steroids, which I have had to take at least 6 times now? Yeah, they make it so I can't sleep more than a few hours a night for about a week...

My primary has been great though. She's doing what she can to help me with everything, including monitoring my blood work herself until some other avenue opens up; I have a few other tests scheduled that could hopefully help in that regard. She also recommended getting a second rheumotology opinion which may be a good idea.

Anyway, this is really just a scratching of the surface; there's a lot more going on that is either too personal to go through over the Internet to complete strangers (even if there is little chance anyone ends up reading this) OR are just too difficult to explain.

Another thing that has taken up my time is a bit of a personal project; I have about 20 or so years of digital photos, from photo CDs back in the actual 'film' days to various digital cameras and phones over the years, spread across multiple hard drives. I've also been really bad about keeping organized, including no real system for backing up files (I have backups of backups of backups).

There are multiple copies of some photos, and no rhyme or reason to any of the files and/or folders where everything is kept. So, I have turned to PHP to attempt to sort through them, weed out duplicates, and hopefully organize all 20 or so years of photos (8.5K files, 9+ gigs of data).

This is something I really want to finish, but I am a bit worn out at the moment. Hopefully I can stick it out and get through the remaining 400 files, as well as figure out some kind of finalization to this madness. Not to mention hopefully get the right years attached to the proper photos, which in of itself is a bit of an issue.

Unfortunately, there has been a bit of a negative side effect to all of this; going through all of these old photos, seeing those who are no longer with us for one reason or another, seeing my kids while they were still young, the various places we lived has resulted in a wide range of emotions for me. It's also really hit me recently just how much time has been fucking with me; my oldest is in his second year of college, my middle child is in high school and my youngest... The other day I drove past what was her elementary school and it really hit me; I will never again have a child in elementary school.

It was a really weird feeling that I just can't put into words, but it kind of messed with me.

Anyway, I would say that I have rambled on long enough, probably too long. This has been just a brief glimpse into why I have been so lacking on my own site, and pretty much everywhere lately. Hopefully some day I can get my head cleared; I have an EEG scheduled soon to hopefully that can shed some light on any issue that may be going on?

In the meantime, I probably won't be too active with anything online based, including but not limited to this site. I just wish I could find some motivation.

If you have read this far, thank you for taking the time! It really means a lot to me.

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