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The Daily Report

I said last week (on Twitter) I'd have a more full report on my health here. The thing that sidelined me last week was not immediately life-threatening, but needed addressing.

I have this kind of vicious cycle with the skin on the back of my hands that involves the fact that it's always drier and more sensitive than the skin on the rest of my body for some reason (repetitive motion related, maybe?) and that I have a strong tendency to scratch in my sleep, which doesn't actually make a skin condition better. About one to three times a year, I just get a really bad flare-up and by the time I'm really conscious of how bad it is, the whole area is just really raw. The usual treatment is benadryl and some antibiotic ointment, which is usually enough to clear it up in a day or two.

This isn't an allergic reaction (though the cycle can start with one), but the antihistamine effect of benadryl still prevents the inflamed area from itching as much and it also knocks me into a deeper sleep, which seems to prevent the scratching.

This was the worst outbreak I've had. I started taking benadryl overnight for it last weekend, hoping it would clear up by Sunday night. And then I was hoping it would clear up Monday. And Tuesday. And so on.

By the end of the week, I was wearing gloves with antibiotic cream underneath them day and night and was pretty much a benadryl zombie. Benadryl doesn't always put me to sleep, but it always leaves me pretty out of it, and shuts down my creative brain pretty hard. Early on the week I was trying to get work done anyway. Later I was just hoping to be done with it.

Now, most of the actual scratching has healed though the skin is still visibly damaged. Parts of my right hand--which always gets it worse--look like a bad sun burn. I've switched from benadryl to generic claritin, which never seems to be quite as good for itching/inflammation, but doesn't hurt. My respiratory allergies always seem to flare up when I'm traveling, anyway, and I'm going to be traveling soon.

It's probably hard to convey exactly what was so bad about my hands that it was worth a week in a benadryl haze without getting into some pretty gory details, but I guess the bottom line is that my hands are important to what I do and I should probably take better care of them than I do. I'm planning on keeping the habit of wearing gloves, especially when I'm outside. The way I tend to dress, my hands probably do get more sun than even my face.

Anyway, the other thing that happened last week is that I tried using caffeine to cancel out the benadryl. Didn't work. I mean, I felt better with caffeine than without, but what benadryl takes out isn't the same thing that caffeine adds.

Related to that, though, I've decided to end my caffeine dry spell, because I've come to realize that nothing puts back what caffeine adds. My screwed up brain chemistry probably has something to do with how much caffeine I drank as a teenager, but abstaining as an adult isn't going to undo that. All the dopamine supplements in the world can't give the motivation and ability to focus that one can of Dr. Pepper twice a day can. It's my spinach.

Related: the reason I didn't have a status post yesterday is because I was busy writing ~12,000 words of fiction.

I'm not jumping into this without careful consideration. In particular, I'm going to have to be very careful that I don't fall into the trap of using caffeine to try to make up for sleep deprivation brought on by insomnia. I think keeping the understanding that caffeine doesn't subtract generic tiredness but adds something else firmly in my mind will help there.

The State of the Me

See above.

Plans For Today

I'd really like to say that I'm going to spend today busting out another five digit word count day, but the fact is that I have plans outside the house that are sort of outside my control. It is the nature of the plans that I don't know exactly when they'll begin or be done. I also have preparations for travel, since I leave for WisCon the day after tomorrow, and I basically lost a week.

So, I'm going to do what writing I can. I'd already been doing some (pretty successful) experiments in writing for a greater volume and sustained duration before I decided that I was overcompensating on the caffeine abstinence thing. You'll have to allow some recovery time after the con, but I feel like we're going to be hitting a bold new something or other.

(Also, I'm going to have to think about how to bring Harper's Folly back from the unplanned absence. I mean, there are ways to work it into the story, I just hadn't planned on needing to do that.)


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August 2017


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