Categories
3. Other Things Whimsy Writing Life

1000 words about nitrile gloves because why not?

Blue nitrile gloves are The Bestest Thing Ever, and I may never again bake (and clean up from baking) without wearing a pair. I know I’m late to the party, but I’m excited and this is my space for gushing & ranting, so here goes.

The rest of the world has known about these forever, right? I mean, I’ve been watching contestants use them on Great British Bake Off for years, and medical personnel wear them all the time. Why did it take so long? Look. All I can say is, I had no reason to believe they were special. I also saw most people go barehanded if they could, same as I go barehanded as much as possible.

My perspective shift started in spring 2021 when I developed wicked serious eczema on my hands and feet. I left it untreated for months except for moisturizing because I didn’t know what it was. I’d had occasional eczema breakouts in the past on my knees and feet, but they’d itched like crazy, alerting me to the need to heavily moisturize the areas and then ignore them until they cleared on their own.

This time? The hardened, scaling (splitting, bleeding) skin on my hands and feet ached and stung where it split open, but it didn’t ITCH. I only went to the doctor when the weird thick skin, the bleeding bits, and the numbness began to worry me. The doc was surprised it didn’t look like I was aggravating things by scratching the outbreak spots. (Guess who is really, REALLY good at tuning out sensations my brain decides aren’t relevant?)

Yah, anyway. Nine months later, things are not yet fully under control. I’m making headway, pinning down triggers and managing flares, but it’s slow going. Any abrasion or minor scrape on my hands or feet becomes an instant new outbreak, plus skin affected by eczema is terribly fragile and prone to tearing. So every time I get one set of torn fingertips, knuckles, toes or heels calmed down, another spot or thre**e rips open. And then all the other spots act up harder.** Lemmee tell you, typing with open gashes on your fingertips is not the funnest thing ever.

So I have been wearing gloves Rather A Lot. The day I came home with the eczema diagnosis I bought rubber dish gloves, cotton moisturizing gloves, a box of disposable vinyl cleaning/food handling gloves, and yes, a box of blue nitrile gloves.

Why so many different kinds? Firstly, I wanted different options to try. I have always hated wearing gloves. My hands feel smothered. I hate the loss of sensation. I hate the bulkiness. So I didn’t have much Glove Experience. Secondly, because the doctor recommended using gloves whenever doing things that might irritate the skin. The problem being my hands, that meant I was going to need All The Gloves.

EVERYTHING was a hazardous activity and dishwashing was a freaking Red Flag Danger Zone. (Not only does soaking in hot water aggravate the outbreaks, but also I react to an ingredient found in liquid soaps.)

Every type of glove had its downsides. Dish gloves are an absolute PITA to put on and take them off constantly while cooking and cleaning as you go, plus that requires twisting and pressing and creates friction, which is a potential for new tearing every time. Cotton gloves are useless for wet tasks. Work glovesw (which I didn’t buy because I already had lots because gardener herem, hello) are awful for anything requiring dexterity.

And vinyl gloves rip easily, get annoying when wet, and are lousy for tasks that require fine motor control. And they’re one-use only at best. For tough activities I might go through 2 pair. Grr. Wasteful.

And NONE of those gloves be worn while using electronic devices with a touchscreen or a trackpad.

The nitrile gloves? Their downside was that they were expensive and something I’d never used before. Plus they looked like vinyl gloves crossed with latex gloves-which I had used but loathe because they’re tightly clingy and I have tactile issues. (see: “I hate gloves as a general concept,” above)

I only bought the blue ones because at that time the store only allowed purchase of 1 box of vinyl gloves per visit, and I was afraid I might run out. Since I never did, the blue gloves sat unused for months.

Spouseman took over much of the washing-up duties & many other hand-related chores, but baking is a me thing. Between my hands hurting a LOT and not being able to easily clean up as I go, kitchen puttering hadn’t been much fun for a long time.

And then I had a big eczema flare RIGHT WHEN IT WAS TIME TO BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES. GRR.

I’d resigned myself to wearing the vinyl gloves, but ew, I dinna wanna, and I was feeling all GRUMPY when noticed the neglected box of blue gloves languishing under the box of the other kind.

And inspiration struck in the form of: “What the hell, why not try them?” Maybe they would last through more than one washing-up between batches and I wouldn’t have to keep changing them & feeling tlike a Wasteful First-World Bad Environmentalis

I went to work measuring, and stirring and scooping and washing with my blue-glove hands, and HOLY FUCKING WOWZA. I’d been hoping they would be tolerable, but NO. A bunch of things were EASIER than if I wasn’t wearing the gloves.

Handling sticky dough. Greasing the baking dishes. Getting all the dough out of the mixing bowl. Washing up. Everything was easy again. I could feel things tright through the material, and it didn’t tear. Oh, and at least for me, the gloves even worked with my phone screen.

So. Bottom line, I now fucking love blue nitrile gloves, and they are my go-to handiwork accessories.

Temps are gonna be in the single digits tomorrow night, so I’ll be baking biscotti (double bake time = double the extra warmth for the house) I’ll for sure be wearing my favorite new gloves.

That is all for now, except here’s a random cat picture, because Pippin is the cutest.

Until later!


** I’m extra-annoyed that one new trigger appears to be eggs. Not eggs in things, but eggs-cooked-alone. (like, say, scrambled, which I had been LOVING for the 4 years since I stopped having other allergic reactions to them) GRRRRR.

Categories
Detours other things Writing Life

A Mistake of Misplaced Trust

November is NaNoWriMo. For me this is the second day of “finish my damned draft” month, but I’ve written less than a hundred words in that. I wrote this instead.

My mistake was looking away from the long scary needle carrying my second dose of Shingrix vaccine as soon as the nurse uncapped it.

I know, everybody looks away. But I am here to tell you: DON’T. If the person administering the shot is not sitting down too, and/or is aiming that needle at the TOP of your shoulder, object quickly and loudly. Before the needle goes in.

I forgot that advice, and now this vaccination is kicking my ass in ways that have pissed me off enough to file a CDC Vaccination Adverse Event Report online. (That’s pretty big. The VAERS process feels designed to make people decide “Eh, I’m feeling lousy, but not so bad that I’m willing to fill out this excruciatingly-detailed multipage form.”)

What happened? Welp, imma tell you.

It started with my long-delayed annual physical. The exam went fine. As part of it, the doctor went through my vaccination history with me. Annual flu done, COVID done, TDap up to date, only thing I needed was a 2nd dose of shingles vaccine, and my luck was in, they had doses on-hand!

Long tangential story. Shingles vaccination was first recommended 7 years ago. My insurance requires I get it from the doctor’s office. Six years in a row, they didn’t have any vaccinein the building. Six times I was told, “We get supplied on Mondays, keep calling every Monday and eventually you should get be able to get in.”

The first time, I believed them and tried several times before being defeated by the call system & app. Five times I replied, “That isn’t a good answer. I can’t call direct, so I would have to come here every Monday. I am not made of that kind of free time.” Last year was Pandemic Year One.

This summer I lucked into the first shot when I went in for a diagnosis on my eczema trifecta. That doctor entered my Covid vax info (yay!) saw I was 7 years past recommended age for getting a shingles shot, and asked if I was reluctant.

I explained. He tracked down the last dose in the building that day for me. I know this because the nurse who came in & sat down next to me mentioned that during the sleeve lifting & swabbing part of the process. I watched the first dose go right into my deltoid muscle where shots belong, nice & centered. WIN!

But I digress.

This time, the nurse came in after the doc and I finished, and some chat about scheduling my fasting blood test ensued. (Fun fact: I only need to fast 8 hrs now, not 12+!) That done, I lift my sleeve, swabbing ensues. Needle gets uncapped.

It’s been a rough few weeks. I’m not up to watching. I. Look. Away.

The shot went in with a deep stabbing pain. Yes, needle, pointy, but shots feel like a poke, not an alarming STAB. The only time I’ve felt pain like that has been during dental work, when the needle full of numbing agent hits or gets too close to a nerve.

So I said, “OW!” and also, “I’ve never had that happen from a regular shot.” The nurse shrugged it off with, “A lot of people say the 2ndshot hurts more.”

That’s when I noticed how much higher than me she was. She was either standing or sitting on the tall stool beside the exam table (I confess, I didn’t look at her feet to see which, I was too shocked by the OW.) I did have to look up and to the side to see her.

And that’s when the reality of my mistake sank in.

Pro tip: never accept a shot in the arm from someone who’s standing or sitting higher than you are. Want to know why? Do a search on SIRVA (Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration)

By then it was too late for me and not worth discussing with someone who had already dimissed my pain. I left the office, did the “use the arm as much as possible” routine and hoped for the best.

I’m still hoping, but I’m also ANGRY.

Most of my post-shot symptoms are on the “common” list: soreness in the injected arm, body aches, fatigue, lack of appetite & a pounding headache. All very ordinary viral vaccine reactions for me. All responding nicely to Advil & hydration.

But the sharp pain at the site hasn’t gone away, and tingling down my arm started within a few hours of the shot. Those aren’t normal post-vaxx symptoms. Waking up multiple times with a numb left arm all the way from shoulder to fingers? Definitely not the usual. Nothing worth the risks of an ER or urgent care, but no fun, lemmee tell ya.

I’ve had bursitis in enough other joints to recognize the pain & tingling from inflammation near a joint impinging on associated nerves– but I can’t know if this is a Major Situation Developing or only a Painful Hassle for at least a few days. The weird nerve effects could be caused by injection site swelling alone. Becuase it was done too high, and too close to the nerves. I hope that’s all it is, because damage caused by vaccine getting into the shoulder bursa could affect my left arm permanently.

Thus, I am pissed off. Partly at myself, but yes, partly at the nurse who stabbed my arm nearly 2 inches higher than she should’ve done. Because of that, I have to sit here not only hurting, but also worrying for several days.

My mistake wasn’t getting vaxxed. My mistake was forgetting the person doing the shot might not do it RIGHT.

And that is on me. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has bad days. I should’ve kept watching. Fingers crossed, a few days of pain and stress are all the price I pay for my error. You can bet I will NOT look away next time, and that I will insist on my health concerns being taken seriously.

I urge you to do the same. Do not look away. Advocate for your safe care better than I did for mine.

That would make me feel a little better about this wretched experience.

This was 1000 words and I’m counting it as writing.

That’s all for now. Until later.

Categories
3. Other Things nuts & bolts Writing Life

Stop and Think. That’s all I’m asking.

I get angry-tired like a toddler who’s awake three hours past bedtime every time I hear comments about Covid-19 like the ones below:*

“The science keeps changing.”
“All the experts are saying something different.”
“The rules are confusing and don’t make sense.”
“So many statistics are overblown/confusing/don’t tell the whole story.”
“The whole crisis is being exaggerated for headlines.”
“It’s impossible to tell what’s true, there’s too much hype.”

No. No, no, NO. ALL WRONG.

The science is NOT changing, and it ISN’T contradictory, and it isn’t exaggerated. If you feel like the news is overwhelming, confusing, and full of hype, you are not filtering out the crap and only absorbing the facts.

There is a LOT of crap information in the world. Always has been, always will be, and it gets worse all the time. Blame conspiracy theorists, the news media, arguing scientists, the way social media works, human nature…I don’t care.

What I care about is stopping the spread of defeatism that goes along with those complaints. So, then. How to do that?

There are two systems of crap-filtering: do the critical thinking work yourself, or farm it out.

The second one is the easier and historically proven system. People routinely base their practical, everyday life choices on advice from a set of trusted, knowledge-having, opinion-dispensing friends.

Word of mouth recommendations. They’re the gold standard. Ask anyone.

In modern life, we have an alternative that also works well: find and collect a few–a VERY FEW–information sources known for rigorous fact-checking and analytical, easy-to-understand reporting, and only base your actions on them when all those sources agree. But that’s a little harder.

Either way, I strongly suggest farming out your info-filtering unless you are a wonky, information-obsessed, research specialist trained in scientific analysis, critical thinking & education. (Hi. It me.)

Prefer to do all the work yourself? Don’t trust any research you haven’t done yourself? Cool. Then DO IT & stop pretending the problem is in the information being too confusing. Here are some tips from your neighborhood wonky, information-obsessed research specialist trained in scientific analysis:

  • The words “forget everything you’ve learned” mean “ignore this, it’s bunk.”
  • The more times an article about anything medical refers to “poisons” & “toxins,” the more likely it’s bunk.
  • Never trust any data provided in an article unless it comes with citation links.
  • When provided links, follow them. If I had a dollar for every time I discovered the original study said the opposite of the what it was being used to prove…I could feed all my friends steak for dinner every night for a year. Not exaggerating even a little.
  • Never assign the same persuasive weight to opinions as to analysis.
  • Never trust an expert’s degree or fields of study alone. Dig deeper. Are they experts in the field they’re speaking on, or only something that makes them look relevant? What do they do for a living NOW? (Example: whose opinion should you believe about cloth mask effectiveness, someone w/a phD in industrial design who works for a company selling respirators, or surgeons & nurses who can confirm they’ve remained unharmed despite decades-long careers wearing masks for hours at a time?)
  • Learn the difference between expert opinion and expert analysis. (Hint: are they asking about their own research, or someone else’s? Some people are willing to pass judgement on studies they haven’t even read. investigate the expert’s background, determine how current their credentials are, etc. And again, check for “further research citations and check THOSE!)
  • Don’t dismiss a new analysis because it contradicts an older one–or because it contradicts someone else’s opinion. (Are you seeing a trend here?) In rapidly changing environments, older information becomes obsolete.
  • Example: in early March there was ZERO data to support wearing basic masks. No public studies had ever been designed, and in the medical field, the results were 50/50. Sooooo, I was all-in with Team No-Mask in March. But GUESS WHAT? That was months ago, and the Grand Uncontrolled Experiment that is Pandemic 2020 has produced a LOT of data that confirms mask use helping.

Does that list sound like a lot of work? Does it make you tired just reading it? The people shoveling bullshit information into the world on purpose count on that. They know very few people want to do all that filtering just to get a little useful, practical advice. They rely on that defeatist reaction to spread self-serving spin and outright lies. They make money off it. GAJILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Meanwhile, I look at that list of techniques and think, “Oh, look, another day ending in y, another new topic to chase back to its primary sources.”

The current mask situation as I see it stems from the collision of America’s Two Big Twitches: its fetish for personal responsibility and its distrust of intellectuals. But that’s a topic for another post, and maybe one best left to someone else.

My wonky friend recommendation, gleaned from way too much research & analysis: if you’re going out of your home to face other people, put a mask on, keep your distance, and don’t touch your face. And don’t let anyone INTO your home if they won’t abide by those safety guidelines.

Look, if you want to buy me a glass of wine, I’ll grab my soapbox and I can rant (at length) over Zoom about the nature of science, evolving bodies of knowledge, the dangers of being “fair & balanced,” and the unintended consequences of using analogies instead of facts… but I warn you, it will end up with me saying, “JFC, do the math. Wear a mask anywhere indoors and outside where you can’t keep your distance, keep your distance when you can, and follow basic hygiene. Look at the infection rates in every country that’s done those three things–and in some cases, nothing else!–and it’s fucking obvious. Do the easy things, nobody has to shut down again, everybody wins.”

Stay safe, amigos. That’s it for now. Until later.

*I grant there are worse things to declare & share than the comments up at the top of the post. There’s ACTIVE disinformation. But refuting false statements has a way of giving them more weight than they deserve, so I will NOT be indulging in an exhaustive & exhausting debunkery post. I have more Valerie & Jack scenes to write.

PS: I mean, in person I burst out laughing at people who think masks can make their blood toxic, scoff at people who feel oppressed by being asked to stand back six feet and give the Mom Stare Of Doom to anyone cold-hearted enough to say Covid won’t be serious for them, so their grandparents deserve to die from a preventable disease…but I don’t have the time to get into online arguments.

So. That’s a long explanation of why I’m not taking comments on this post.

Categories
Detours Writing Life

Passing thought

Some thoughts on body comfort & dealing with aging and generally coping with the reality of being a lump of replicating cells that creep daily toward death.  Inspired by all the “oh, body, how you betray me as I age,” posts all over the social sphere on the one day a week I’m allowed to surf.

The bleak humorous posts come mainly from people in their 20’s and 30’s. I can sympathize with their shock and unhappiness, oh, yes. It’s aggravating to discover you can’t do something as easily as you once could.

There’s often a sense of resentment about it, though, and I can’t fathom the bitterness.

First, I don’t remember ever having an expectation of navigating daily life without pain or risk of injury. Maybe as a toddler? No, there was the top bunk incident and the 16 stitches in my chin (blood swirling down the drain, my parents talking over my head with the doctor about possible facial scarring… I was 3, I think?) I knew life was a contact sport wherein any action could bench me with injuries before puberty hit. Tying my shoes and “sitting wrong” have always been hazardous. No biggie. Deal & heal.  I honestly never realized it wasn’t like that for everyone until college. (There are reasons I was teased for being The Oblivious Child)

Second, resentment springs from a sense of betrayal, and that relies on an adversarial relationship with physicality I can’t grok. My body isn’t an enemy or even a frenemy. It’s a housecat.

No, really. It cannot care for itself without my help, it wants lots of things that will do it harm, it’s always finding new and creative ways to break things, and there’s no ignoring it when it needs attention. It’s my responsibility to monitor its behavior and keep it from hurting itself, and we are both happiest when I give it extra pampering. It’s totally a cat.

And yeah, sometimes I’m displeased with my body. (I REALLY didn’t like that phase in my teens when my neck and spine grew first and my legs took time to catch up so I felt like a teeny, clunky giraffe, but hey. I did even out. eventually.)  I’m sometimes displeased with my cat, too. Like when he decides my bedside is just the place to vomit up hairballs.

But I digress. My body is mine, and sometimes it purrs, and it tries to be good, and so I can’t imagine resenting it for things it can’t help.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with resenting your body. I’m an all-out supporter of doing whatever works to keep yourself going. No such thing as a One True Way etc. I can’t see that it would ever work for me, that’s all I’m saying.

Anyway. Gonna go give myself a treat and a brushing now.

Categories
Detours Media Consumption Writing Life

Is it a staycation if you’re only staying home because someone is ill?

This is Night 2 of “Spending the weekend as a couch potato because Spouseman has the stomach flu.” I’d planned to get some work done, but I am not great at splitting my concentration between creativity & caregiving.

So instead of writing fiction, we’re both hanging out in the living room with Scooter McNursecat, listening to the epic rainstorms outside, and watching TV. Spouseman has Vitamin Waters and saltines. I have plenty of Unhealthy Snax I picked up while getting his meds and Vitamin Waters. Life is pretty good, when it comes right down to it.

Yesterday I watched most of the series Into the Badlands. Spouseman was there, but he was feeling so ill I doubt it made much of an impression on him.  We wrapped up season 2 today. I have feelings about it,  mixed and murky ones that are very much tied up in my twtichy dislike of messy post-apocalyptic futures.  I don’t mean the gritty aspect of violence. I mean the part where the creators give no thought to systems needed to support the societies they design.  And this show, like SO MANY others, just doesn’t add up. And the dialogue was often so clunky it made me wince.

ANYway. End rantlet.

Brain-free TV for tonight and tomorrow: Lost in Space 2018. 40 minutes into episode 1, I’d already seen more character development & better science (not perfect, but TRYING) than in the whole 1990’s movie. It’s more serious than the original but still very family-friendly. And the family tensions feel authentic, not the Typical Space Show batch of walking tropes at all.

Fab worldbuilding & reveals, fine acting, plus relationships and dialogue that all ring true. My favorites so far: teen girls who talk like teens, and the chicken.

There. Is. A. Chicken.

This show is a keeper.

It was an eventful week, so I’m not going to beat myself up over a couple of extra rest days. Nope. Going to enjoy TV.

What events? I’m so glad you asked.

First, it was National Library Week, and since I’m on the NLW planning committee at work (at a library, for those just now joining the show) I spent most of one shift being a perky greeter and letting kids & adults spin the library wheel for prizes (like fines-forgiveness, mini-slinkies, and ice cream coupons. Also pencils and other loot) and another shift helping pass out popcorn at the trivia contest night.

The contest was the culmination of many meetings’ worth of discussion over questions, potential problems, presentation, snacks, prizes and coordination with other committees.

It was over in an hour. Worth all the planning. Everyone had a grand time.

I ate too much popcorn and have a page of notes to make next year’s event even better.  It was fun but still exhausting. Wednesday I made progress on various work things and also got to take a walk in short sleeves & sandals & lie in the sun.

That recharged me enough to face The Big Adventure Day. Thursday I went downtown by train and El, and thereby learned a whole new section of Chicago By Transit. I can navigate to & from Lincoln Park now, adding that to the short list of Loop, Museum campus & McCormick Place.

The point of the exercise was getting to the Galway Arms to meet Tina Jens for dinner and later attending my first Gumbo Fiction Salon. It’s a monthy reading series I hope to make a regular part of my schedule because it’s a great group and tremendous fun.

How fun? OMG OMG OMG fun. Yet also phenomenally scary. (I talked to a whole lot of strangers in a conversational setting AND SURVIVED)  DInner with Tina was fantastic because I love getting to know friends better. Later I read from Rough Passages and people laughed in the right places and clapped at the end. I listened to a lot of great fiction, some genre, some poetry, some memoir, and I even made it out in time to catch the 11:30 Metra straight home instead of needing a pickup at the Rosemont Blue line.

I am energized to really dig into some writing projects. Friday was to be a chores & shopping day, then  write on into the weekend.

Yeah. Well. Best laid plans.

Hanging out is good, tho. Snax all day & chili for supper (I made a huge batch. It freezes well, and it’s a good hot meal when the weather is cold & yucky like today)  cuddles with cat and snuggles with sleepy, sleepy healing Spouseman.  Words are patient. I will get to them. Maybe even tomorrow.

Why the cat picture? Because “cozy kitty” is how I feel night now. Ta!