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 I've had a busy few weeks, and this is understandable.  I think I've complained about this enough and everyone knows the reason why. I'll just have to make sure I don't do this again in the future. I do not think I need to go over all of this again.

Cathy had a migraine today. I've put up with her crankiness, in part because I understand what being in a lot of pain is like, even if I don't understand migraines from the perspective of a migrainesufferer.  I doubt I ever will, but the fact that I never will  understand what she's going through when she has one comes down to quirky genetics.  (Ironically, this is the biology chapter I am on at the moment.)  Because she needed a nap and some rest more than anything else, I went out this evening and had some fun at a local table-top gaming store. I should have spent the time doing homework, but I've been stressed out lately and getting some fun in was much needed.  I even managed to study some biology.

While I am still annoyed at the broken Dell laptop screen and their lack of customer support, I managed to get a new IdeaPad from Lenovo.  (It has replaced a ThinkPad made by IBM I owned several years ago.  It has a fair amount of graphics power compared to my other systems, and it might be good for non-strenous gaming. I'm not too sure about this, however. Gamergaters showed the dark underbelly of this hobby, and they have left a bad taste in my mouth. I should not let them prevent me from doing something I enjoy.  The one thing that might stop me from a lot of games is my poor hand-eye coordination.) 

Next week is midterms, and I will be busy. I have to do a lot of practice tests for the CompTIA A+ hardware exam. All of this culminates in the test. When this week is done, the next four weeks of the class are spent on the software portion of the test. I'm not looking forward to either of them.

All in all, it was just nice for a little break. I hope Cathy is feeling better tomorrow.   

I think I had something introspective to post tonight, but I seem to have forgotten what this was.  Maybe I will remember it later.

Also, I need to add "Oxygen not Included" to my Steam wishlist.





 




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The title of this post does not report any facts. It's just a line that came from a series of bizarre, vivid dreams I had the last night of Finals Week.  I didn't get much sleep and woke up every hour and a half or so. I have to admit that I am feeling a lot better than I was. There's still a small level of background pain, but I'm not too stressed.  I'm certain I've passed all my classes and I received the lowest grade in quantitative reasoning.

It's also been a difficult month or so to get through. I knew going back to school would be tough, but I also know if I can't handle a full time work load, returning to the work force is out, if that is my goal. The difficulties of this month caused me to engage in introspection and reflection. It also reaffirmed why I don't like the OSI networking model or computer networking much in general.  At least computer networking is related to my career field.

First, I can be reasonably certain I do not have dyslexia.  I did wonder about this, but the errors I make are errors common in many first drafts. This is why editing and revision are so important.  It's also why I'm not big on freelancing for a penny a word any more. If someone wants me to waste my time and limited energy doing something that is not an unskilled task for low pay, they better have a reason beyond wanting to make a profit.  As for dysgraphia, it remains a possibility given some of the mistakes I've made on the quantitative reasoning tests, it remains a possibility. Dyscalculia remains on the table despite my roommate's disbelief in it.  (And to be fair, missing the first 7 homework assignments in quantitative reasoning did not help. This, at least, was purely my fault for not reading the syllabus.  I had to work damn hard to get a C after that.) I consider these blog posts to be a free writing exercise. Free writing involves no revision or error correction. Even if I do have dyslexia, it would not prevent me from writing professionally again. It just means I'd have to work harder. (Piers Anthony is dyslexic.)

The end of the semester is not the only stressor removed from my life. I also had Nelnet discharge my student loads because I am, according to their ruling, "totally and permanently disabled."  It still seems weird to me to be celebrating getting that news, but it's something I knew a couple of years ago.  It's silly that I have to have the government continually affirm what I already know.  However, I'm more happy that the student loans were discharged than I am  about the Department of Education agreeing I am disabled.

Also, I finally heard from the person who will be representing me at my hearing. I have slightly more confidence in the firm now, but I still keep hearing they have a reputation for screwing up what should be easily won cases. I have no idea if my case is easily won or not. I know that my comparatively young age works against me, but the lawyer was surprised that the social security doctors had limited me to sedentary work.  I also hope he gets my point about the treatment being ongoing physical therapy taking time out of the work day frequently for my EDS. (Now, if he can get the paperwork that confirms the EDS diagnosis.)  The only thing I worry about is the constant nagging from my lawyer's office may become a source of stress in the days leading up to my hearing.

On a final note, this Sunday is Mother's Day.  My mother and I had a distant relationship at times. I had a completely different worldview and she was a very hands-off parent even during her lucid moments. The greeting card industry's insistence on celebrating this holiday will make the next few days a bit harder than they need to be. During the last year of her life, my mother spent the entire month of May in a psychiatric ward at Geisinger Hospital in Danville. She became even more distant after that, and was placed on partial hospitalization by court order.  I didn't know what else to do other than try to force her to get help at that time.  I'm not going to question the actions I took  I'm not sure I would have acted differently now, although I might not have involved the police to deal with someone suffering from a mental illness. I realized that even though it seemed unfair at the time, it was a problem I had to deal with.  My mother didn't know who was really on her side and who was not.  

I suppose this is why I still occasionally wonder about schiozphernia or schizoaffective disorder, but so far, I don't show many of the symptoms. (Other than a history of raging asexuality, which as my readers should know, is more about pathologizing asexuality than it is about being a sign of a mental illness.)

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 I just got my PC Pro Certification. I have to admit I was a little worried about this. I have cursed TestOut throughout the semester and for good reason. Most of the labs are all or nothing scenarios that are either pass or fail.  The teacher grades them on whether or not they are done. I have an A in the course, and I think I'll continue to have an A after the final.

This leaves two more finals.  I think my letter grade dropped in both of them because of the back spasm absences, but at least the final can bring up the grade in English.  I really shouldn't have gotten the word counts on those two assignments confused.

Also, I'm still waiting to hear from the hand specialist to see how he's going to treat my TFCC tear.

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 I feel tired right now, but that’s not uncommon after the Hardware/Software Support Class. I’m taking a break right now in the commons area of campus, and taking some time out to write this. Even though there have been some difficulties this semester, I’m actually glad I did get the chance to go back. These classes have allowed me to rediscover my love of computers and possibly change my direction back to what it should have been.

When it comes down to it, I’m not at all sure Server Administration is the right choice for my major. I was thinking that it would be somewhat more portable than computer programming, but I’ve not heard good things about some of the later classes. I will not spend much time worrying about this. There have been a lot of fun things this semester, and I have the opportunity – if I’m lucky – to get the old student loans I’d forgotten discharged. (I’m trying to look on the bright side here. It’s not generally easy for me. Even though I am tired right now, I am in a good mood.)

I’m wondering if my decision to pursue a writing career was the wrong path for me, or if I simply became burn out on it after working for content mills for years. Either way, it doesn’t matter at this point. It’s also not worth dwelling on it. I’ve chosen something that fits within my current physical limitations, and it’s something I find enjoyable and challenging.

I do think that I need to go back over last week, even though it’s probably a bad idea. In some ways, getting the Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis was a great relief. It explains a lot that’s gone on with my body for a long time. Including the few nights where I stayed up crying all night that weren’t caused by my peers. I had blamed those nights on shin splints from soccer. It explains the clumsiness, the problems with my ankles, and some of my mother’s stories. (It also makes me wonder how much worse things might have been if I’d not gone through puberty for the wrong gender, but the Discworld’s Granny Weatherwax would soon set that kind of thinking straight. It doesn’t matter what might have happened because it didn’t happen.) It also explains why I have supernumerary teeth and accessory ossicles or whatever that podiatrist called them.

Right now, I’m trying to sort out good advice from bad advice, and I’ve been handed a list that includes Dr. Collins’s “ideal” diet for EDS. At least from her talks on YouTube, I’ve found out that there isn’t much research for what she recommends. These are just things she’s tried with her patients with good success. (From what I can tell, her advice would be more accurate if the patient figures out what items work for them rather than going on her list all at once. I’m planning on cutting out dairy, increasing salt intake, and I see no harm in eating fewer processed foods. I know from my own experience to avoid MSG, Caffeine, and Aspartame in large quantities.) 

I’m still in limbo as far as my disability claim goes. I know the hearing will not take place this year. There are only two more months left in this year. I do not know if having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome on my records will help or not. It will be a ‘rare’ disorder if so. I’m also hoping I didn’t upset my rheumatologist by seeking out a second opinion. After awhile, I realized she was just being cautious and trying not to increase my anxiety levels. While it was frustrating, it’s something I cam to appreciate.

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 I'd given up programming years ago because I didn't like the Rapid Application Development tools that were available at the time. I know I don't have much artistic or graphic design skills, and this is where the apps were heading. This is no longer the case.  For the classes I'm currently taking, I'm running into some problems with computer math. This is not surprising. Math has never been one of my strongest academic areas, and I was always surprised by my ability to maintain a straight C average consistently in High School. However, getting the right answer -- while important to this class, isn't about what the class is about. It's about understanding how to get the right answer. Knowing how to get the right answer will always be more important for IT professionals than finding it. After all, it is finding the answer that IT professionals get paid for.

To get back to the point, I was having a hard time understanding how to convert decimal numbers into hexadecimal numbers. I thought the easiest way to do get the process down was to write a program that did this for me. I thought that since I enjoy using Pascal and I'm familiar with it that I'd download Lazarus, the open-source equivalent of Delphi, and come up with a graphical utility that does this for me.   I began writhing.

If you read either of the above paragraphs, you might be surprised that I did not actually write a program that did what I intended. The now-finished program converts a hexadecimal number into decimal, which is a far simpler task. During this time, I spent a great deal learning aspects of Pascal and Object Pascal that I had forgotten. The process of discovery excited me. Oddly enough, I don't feel this way about writing. My feelings about writing my come from simple burnout; I spent years doing content mill work to survive.  Content mill work doesn't pay well, isn't exciting, and you have to produce a lot of low-quality output to make a living.  There's also trying to please people who aren't always interested in ethically marketing their product.  

So, I think I've found a new hobby for a while. It's much more suited to my actual talents than cross-stitch, crochet, or doing silly things like building things out of PVC pipe.

Now, if I can just find a way to get the extremely spoon-draining classes that are designed to get students technical certificates out of the way. I went to bed around 8:30 last night and slept until 8:30 this morning. I'm still tired, even though my Synthroid kicked in shortl;y after I took it this morning.

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I wonder if going back to college at the rate I'm going isn't tilting at windmills. I'm not adverse to tilting at windmills.  It could be said I've spent a long time doing it, including the once held assumption that I could make a living as a writer. I have, of course, done that, but things were different when I managed to do that.  In the world of the Internet, things change rapidly.

Going back to college full time is a bit different than my attempts to do something extremely difficult in the past. This time I knew I might have problems with time and energy. I'm not surprised when I encountered them, but I'm having to wonder if continuing this pace for the next two years is a good idea. My body can't take standing for more than two hours, according to Indiana's disability determination board, and they're not known for being generous with their estimates. I know that sheer stubbornness will cause me to press on regardless. I've wanted to finish a college degree, even if it's just an associate's degree for sometime. 

There are things I've discovered since going back, including the rules of being female in any technology related endeavor.   I'm going to repost these here sometime, after fixing some formatting issues I have with them. I also have one teacher who seems to be stressing that any student with a disability can ask for accommodations in my presence. (Thanks. I got the message from you and all the other professors on the first day of class when they went over the syllabus.  If I know I'll need them, I'll ask for them.)

While all of this is interesting to me, it's probably not interesting to someone who is not going back to college in their late 30s. Instead, something else has been on my mind. I've been thinking about disability as an identity versus disability as a medical phenomenon.  I'm not sure where I stand on this. If someone called me a person with a disability or a disabled person, I'd probably me mildly surprised. I do not have a preference for either one. I might have a preference if it came to me earlier in life.  My surprise comes from still not thinking of myself that way. This does not mean that I fall into the only disability in life is a bad attitude camp. It means that I still suffer from internalized ableism most likely. This should not surprise me. Internalized transphobia still haunts me even after forty years.  The teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the attitudes of my father towards LGBT people explain the transphobia. I cannot explain the ableism quite so easily.


True, society does bombard us with messages that having a disability -- even a mild one -- is a disasterous occurrence. The only character on television who suffered from chronic pain was miserably misanthropic, even though he hated people long before he suffered the infarction that forced him to use a cane.  There are few other examples. When we do see people with a disability in the media, it's often about how they overcome their obstacles to achieve some incredible feat. In the past two years, I've learned that this is called inspiration porn.  As much as I hate to admit it, there are times when I still succumb to this way of thinking. It's deeply ingrained. It may not have the force of religion behind it, but it has decades of enforcement through media messages.

So, I'll probably not decide whether I follow the medical or sociological model of disability. It may be a while. The fight is a lot like the one i faced for being transgender. I knew I was transgender, but I also knew that voicing these opinions led to negative social consequences. At least with being transgender, I eventually managed to say, "This is making *me* miserable. It's time to screw society and do what I need to do."  The fact that it took 36 years says something about the anxieties I have over it.  At least I've come to the point where I've gotten used to some of the new normal.  There are some things I'm still dreading, but these are things that have not happened yet, and they may not happen at all.*



*I believe I'll soon have confirmation of having some form of dysautonomia, however, I know that I might be wrong. I also know that anxiety tends to amplify problems to be greater than they actually are. The fear I have over not being allowed to drive is an example of this, and it's something someone would have to be from a small town to understand.   Not being able to drive in a small town as an adult greatly curtails an individual's freedom.



 
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 I came down off of last week feeling slightly better. I was eager to start school and I had enough of resting and doing nothing for a long time. I’m also faced with a question regarding my LARPing activities, since they are not pressing the issue much, but I will get to that later. Right now, I’m just happy not to be sitting in the house and moping all day.

 

Almost all of my class materials have been bought, except for the one the teacher decided to spring on his students the first day. Even though there should be some sort of policy against this behavior, IvyTech does not seem to have one. Coming up with $48 for the code would not be slightly difficult under normal circumstances, but my circumstances are not normal. As I write this, I am sitting in the Wi-Fi study lounge, taking a quick break from doing some of the coursework. It’s been a busy week and I have a lot to cover. The book does not come with a code in the bookstore.

 

The first item is public transportation. I’m not overly impressed with Terre Haute’s bus system, but I am glad it is there. Bus trips take longer than car trips, but they must accommodate all the stops in between. I even managed to get to physical therapy yesterday without having to be driven there. (Note: The roommate isn’t letting me drive while the arm is healing; I decided not to drive at least until two days after the tilt table test. While I strongly suspect POTS* or some other form of Dysatonomia, I would like confirmation if possible. At least I know I’m not the first spoonie to be cheering for a medical test to come back positive. We know something is wrong; Our doctors think we’re nuts or doing it for attention. One thing that seems odd to have done at 39 is to set the alarm for 5 pm and miss the bus to get to classes. Fortunately, even though this event happened today, my roommate took me to class. I really wish I could do something to properly thank Cathy for all she’s done through this.

 

I think I’ve rediscovered my love of computers, programming them, working on them (somewhat – I’ve never been too thrilled with hardware issues. Some of these repairs require coordination.) I’m not sure that server administration is right for me and part of me really wants to switch to software development. My primary objection to coding so many years ago was the Visual suite of programming applications and look-alikes like Delphi. These programming environments have been replaced by programming for the web. I’m perfectly fine with doing that.

 

The first week is over. I’m a little nervous about whether or not I can keep down assignments. The idea some professors have of skipping the lectures and putting the information down as PowerPoint presentations bothers me, but I’ll get to this over the weekend. At least the school has provided lunch from a local barbecue place for the past few days. Eating it outdoors yesterday was a nice break.

 

As for the Mind’s Eye Society, I need to pay my dues, and I’m going to do that anyway. Now that I’m not mad, I can see where they are coming from. They wanted me to be in better control of my actions and emotions. I believe this attitude comes from the games itself where someone can spend willpower to temporarily override what the game calls derangements. Real life does not work this way. Suppressing something temporarily only causes it to pop up somewhere else later. If the Changeling storyteller hadn’t been the target that night, someone else would have been. Sadly, the only person who gets any of this is the person with Graves’ Disease who had his own melt downs about a year ago before taking medication to suppress his thyroid. I don’t know how many of them also have the attitude that people get better. No one has any idea that people with Hashimoto’s get put on an emotional rollercoaster, whether they want to be or not. I think they’re getting that idea now.

 

Before I ramble too much, the issue is this. I can come back. These meltdowns are going to happen continuously until my immune system kills off my thyroid. (I hope it doesn’t go searching for something else to attack after it’s done, but I’ve only seen a suggestion that it automatically happens on extremely pseudo-scientific websites.) If I am concerned about not hurting people over this, the best thing to do is quit. It is no different than a baseball pitcher who has to give up his career after a rotator cuff injury. I may have no choice but to be on an emotional rollercoaster, but I don’t want to take everyone around me with me. I’m not even paralyzed by anxiety over this; I simply don’t want to do it. No matter how many times I tell myself it’s the right course of action, I just can’t bring myself to believe it emotionally.

I have not asked for accommodations, but it does not seem like I'll need the school to do anything so far.
 

 

*It may be okay to just say I have it in casual conversation. The same might be true for EDS. It’s just telling doctors what I have should be avoided unless it’s already been documented or they need to know. That makes them suspicious. At least I have confirmed Hashimoto’s Disase.

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