Resets

It seems the last couple of weeks have been about resets. Sometimes resets are a good thing, some times, well, not so.

For instance, a week ago as I write this, I was supposed to be at Cocoaconf San Jose, and in fact, I did show up on the first day for the IOS tutorial, but about 2 hours in, I had to excuse myself and I left the conference and drove myself off to urgent care, because it was clear something was going sideways.

I’d woken up feeling off, and in fact I’d been in that “I feel like I’m coming down with a bug”, but this was different. As I was sitting in the class, my pulse was rising, and when it hit 115, I pulled the plug, because it wasn’t going to go down without help, except in a very bad way.

As it turns out, I was right. We had restarted the Lasix to deal with the leg swelling, and the Lasix had stripped a big chunk of the Potassium and Sodium out of the body, and without enough Potassium and Sodium, your body starts freaking out. Which mine was. There was a bit of dehydration as well — bane of my life — but it was really the mineral drain that did it. So a couple of EKGs, blood draws, bags of saline and two large horse pills later, they sent me home where I let the stress reaction kick in and I napped much of the afternoon.

The next day I considered going back to Cocoaconf but opted for rest and recovery, because I was frankly drained and still feeling a bit shaky. I’m sad I missed some really good talks but it was the right call, plus I went and talked to my primary doctor and we rejiggered the meds to try to prevent a repeat performance. That paid off, we did some fresh blood tests yesterday, and it seems like the numbers are in a good range and stable.

These kind of things happen when you start rejiggering your prescriptions. Not everything goes smoothly. fortunately this one had a simple solution: more horse pills, where we doubled the dose of potassium I was talking and halved the Lasix. So far, that’s working for me, but we’ll see in the next week or so. It’s always something — but if I hadn’t had it checked, it would have ended badly, and in an ambulance (or worse). whoops.

So I got to reset my dosage levels, and that reset my energy level, and now things are a lot better. We did a blood test friday and it shows things are back in the normal range, if a bit low. I’m going to see if we want to raise the potassium another notch because of that.

So I’m sure some of you are thinking “WTF you driving yourself in that situation?” and the answer is, well, yeah, but it was clear it was serious but not crisis, ambulances are expensive, I really, really didn’t want to be disruptive of Cocoaconf, and, well, there are days when I’m really stubborn. It wasn’t a risk free decision, but it was a considered one, and I figured it was better to get myself in and cut out all of the delay points, which included having the EMTs do an initial evaluation before deciding to take me in. Same reason I didn’t call the advice nurse first, because I knew her advice would be “get in here and get seen”.

By the way, one of the best moments I’ve had with my doctor for a while was this: at one point, he looked at my test reports and noted that not only was my potassium down, so was my sodium. So I looked him straight in the face and said “are you really suggesting that I need to add salt to my diet?” and he looked at me for a bit, then got this huge grin on his face, and replied “oh, you know I can’t do that”. heh.

Another Reset

Another reset this week was that I cancelled a project I’ve been working on in the background for almost two years. You don’t know about it because I haven’t talked about it except to a very few people, but it’s been on my “I really want to do this’ list for about five years, and I had planned to use the sabbatical to boot it into active development. It had made it to the point where all I needed was a production plan to show the organization it would be created for and their approval, and my discussions with them indicated approval was almost guaranteed.

The problem came down to time: I really want to do this project, but the commitment of time and energy was simply more than I feel I can do right now with everything else going on. When I first conceived of this about five years ago it would have been practical. Today, it would mean too many other things I also want to make happen would have been delayed or killed instead. So I contacted the people I would have been working with on this and let them know I was shutting it down. Maybe someone else in the organization will pick it up, and if so I’ll happily share the work I’ve done to date, but I had to make the tough call to drop this. Part of me still thinks that maybe I can start it up again in a year, but realistically, I think my window to do this project has closed.

I’m a bit sad, but not as sad as if I tried to do it anyway and turned out a piece of crap, which I felt I was on the path towards.

Resetting photographically

One of the things that project would have impacted that I simply wasn’t willing to do was my photography — and after spending much of 2016 thinking I should just sell the camera gear, or throw it in a pond or something, it’s starting to click again and I’m starting to both turn out good work and enjoying doing it. It’s been a weird few months with the camera; not so much burn out as a crisis of faith and confidence, but I seem to be past it, at least with the bird and wildlife side. My landscape work is still a disaster, but I’ll work through that a bit at a time, I think.

Ultimately it took tearing it all apart and going back to the basics and the things that made want to take pictures in the first place — birds and wildlife — that gave me the ability to start seeing how to do good work again and feeling good about it. And once that core piece was in place, I’ve been able to expand that into other kinds of work.

I expect I’ll come out of this a better photographer, the same one at the core, but I can already see my work going in different directions with a new look, and I like what I’m seeing. I’ll talk about that at more length down the road.

Resetting the country

And finally, this week the country took a big, hard reset. I was backing Clinton, who lost, and so it’s no surprise I’m not thrilled at the outcome. And I’m not looking forward to seeing things I care deeply damaged by the upcoming administration, but to those thinking this is the end of the world, I’ve watched this country survive Nixon, Jimmy Carter (a much better ex-president than president), Gerald Ford, Younger Bush and Ronald Reagan — and so I think we’ll muddle through this somehow as well. Not without pain, not unscratched, but we’ll get there.

I have many thoughts, but still haven’t decdied if I want to write about them or if I want to keep them to myself. But I do think it’s important to ask that everyone think about the things that are important to them and look for ways to help preserve and protect those things. On my end, I’m starting with donations to these groups:

I’ll note two of those groups I’ve never donated to before, because I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture and not just continue to do what I’ve been doing before. And to all of you, I encourage you to do the same: find the organizations that are gearing up to fight the fights you want to see succeed, and then find ways to help them in those fights.

It’s not all bad

It’s not all bad, though. I ordered a new MacBook Pro when Apple announced them and it’s now on a plane coming in from China, due here on the 17th. I’m really looking forward to testing it out and seeing how I like the touch bar in person.

We also had the third big piece of the house infrastructure worked on, with a new furnace. The old unit was almost 20 years old and in decent shape, but with all the other work we’ve done, it made sense to replace it now rather than in an emergency. We also were able to install one with a lot better noise reduction and a two stage heater and fan, which removed the jet turbine sound from the house (you basically can’t hear it on the low stage), and at high speed the sound is at least halved) and with some ducting upgrades, we now have much better airflow throughout the house especially here in my office. And we expect that’ll lead to lower bills because we aren’t doing the “heat really fast, cool too far” tango. And we added an Ecobee smart thermostat, so one more part of the house is now on Wifi with an app. So far, I’m really liking it.

And coming up… a short trip to Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve for some photography. And I’ll get home just as the new laptop arrives, it seems….