Being a Proud Geek at #ComicConAfrica2018

Dear Oliver Roberts (if that is your name),

Today I read your article about Comic Con Africa in the Sunday Times Review, and to say I was offended is putting it -ing mildly.
But as you yourself noted, we geeks are a polite bunch, though your article has got our backs up, to say the least.

I went to Comic Con last Sunday, dressed as a fat old witch. My costume wasn’t complicated, or difficult to put together since I am already a fat old lady, but I chose my costume because Nanny Ogg is my favourite character from one of my favourite series of books, written by the inimitable Sir Terry Pratchett.
Had I identified more with Ayla from Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children novels, I could have gone to Comic Con dressed in a fur bikini and a long blonde wig, without a second thought as to whether or not I could pull it off in your eyes.

Comic Con is different things for different geeks, let me see if I can give you a wee bit of insight…
For serious cosplayers, the challenge is in making and competing in their costume, and they spend MONTHS in preparation. And at Comic Con they get to see professional cosplayers and attend workshops about making costumes.
For many of us its just fun to dress up and pretend to be someone else for the day, and not all costumes are handmade, but those who do go in costume LOVE to be recognised and photographed- if you ask first, of course.
For the gaming geeks, its about the games, and the “expensive keyboards and monitors” and new releases and watching professionals compete.
For the collectors, its about the comics and the “absurdly expensive figurines” and the “framed posters signed by the entire cast of Big Bang Theory”.

I’m not sure why you agreed to attend Comic Con Africa at all, Oliver, perhaps you weren’t given a choice, but whatever the reason you went to report on it, you clearly left your journalistic integrity at home.
You wrote that at Comic Con, “everyone is free to be themselves, without any fear of ridicule or scorn”, yet you were incapable of the same attitude.
It makes me sad to think that people who didn’t get to Comic Con this year may be put off attending the next one because of your article.

This world really would be a far better place if more people behaved like geeks do, and like we do at Comic Con, if our acceptance and tolerance and polite optimism were indeed the pervading energy on this planet.

Part of me hopes you will attend next year, and go in costume to try and have fun.
But if you can’t be more like us, then rather stay at home.

Being “Friends” on Facebook

At the beginning of this year, I had a bit of a revelation.
It had been on my mind for ages, I could just never quite put my finger on it. And then one day – the words put themselves together in my brain.

The moment you realise you’re just a FB friend,
when all along you thought you were more.

After that little epiphany, I started thinking about it more and more, and about my life and friends pre-Facebook. A time when I actually SPOKE to my friends on the phone. When I actually SAW my friends in person. When my social circle was small. Before people developed a complete aversion to answering their phones at all (and I LOVE speaking on the phone).
And I know FOMO well. It has plagued me all my life. You know the feeling – when you see your “friends” doing something without you, or getting together somewhere without you. That has bugged me less and less this year, and FOMO has always existed, but I have come to the conclusion that its Facebook’s real bread and butter – its what keeps people logging in and scrolling.
What really got to me though, what REALLY opened my eyes, was when people I thought were actual friends of mine, experienced major life events – and I knew no more about what was happening than anyone else who could see their Facebook feed.
That really hurt, because I was under the illusion I was closer to them.

Its taken me months to actually start doing anything about it, and I have no intention of closing my Facebook account, but I am unfriending* and un-following people regularly now. And I’m not doing it with any of those attention-seeking “I’m culling my friends list, leave a comment if you still love me” posts either.
Whilst I have used the “birthday notification rule” for some time now – the one where you unfriend someone after getting a Facebook birthday notification, but you have had no interaction with that person in over a year, but I am getting stricter with myself.
If someone makes me roll my eyes on a regular basis, for whatever reason, I un-follow them.
If someone makes me wonder how the hell we became Facebook friends in the first place, I unfriend them.

Its given me an odd sense of peace. An “out of sight, out of mind” kind of peace. Its made me determined to properly reconnect with the real people in my life.

*I loathe the word, I know its accepted, but it still sounds grammatically wrong to me.

Being More of an “Old Lady”

If you read THIS POST, you’ve already read about how when my now 27 year old son* was growing up, we had many, MANY conversations about sex, PMS, and babies, and more recently, a chat about menopause, and mood swings.
Because I am peri-menopausal.
Yup.
Officially old.
For about two years already.

Fokkit.

My cycle started going bezonkers in 2010 already, after being a perfect 25-day countdown for years, and its only gotten worse… I highly recommend downloading an app, BTW!

The forgetfulness, peri-menopausal the brain fog, is REAL!

So for about eighteen months I battled crazy night sweats – literally waking up with my pillowcase and my hair drenched with sweat. The sun went down, and I started sweating. I took to sleeping with a frozen 2L bottle of water at my feet, and our aircon was on ALL the time! My poor hubby!
And I was SUPER emotional for a while, but I think that has gotten better… I still cry almost every day over losing my daddy darling, and my precious Riddick – although that is real heartache over my loss, not just menopausal emotions…

The night sweats seem to have stopped, but they were replaced with hot flushes! Think of every cliche you’ve ever heard about hot flushes – they are spot-fucking-on! It feels like I’m blushing, but furiously! Thank goodness its short lived, but it happens several times a day and night! I literally strip my shirt off as fast as I can!

And just for fun, for about a month now, I’ve been battling little bouts of crazy lightheadedness and vertigo. Several times a day I get dizzy, to varying degrees. Sometimes its mild, but sometimes it feels like I am going to fall off my chair!
I think I would happily have the night sweats back if I could get rid of the dizziness!

All of it drives me nuts!

And I have to marvel at how life changes… Currently, “Aunt Flo” is the latest she has ever been – more than two weeks. My poor menstrual app has no idea what to tell me, and the other day my Glugster and I had a little chat about how we’d feel if we discovered we were going to have a baby.
The likelihood is zero – been there, done that, paid the specialists to tell us so – but we realised that its not what we want anymore. I mean, I’m going to be 45, the knucklehead is all grown up, AND we have ZERO medical aid this year! 😀

 

*What the hell!??! My son is heading for thirty!!!

What’s With the Towels?

People talk about the lost teaspoons.
You buy a pack of 12 at the supermarket- none of which match the other cutlery in your drawer- and about a year later, you’re stirring your coffee with a fork.

People talk about the missing socks.
You put two in the washing machine- only one comes out- and every few years you attempt to sort them, yet you’re loathe to throw them out.

And people talk about the magic of evaporating Tupperware lids.
You have tubs and lunch boxes of every shape and size, not one of which has a matching lid!

But nobody mentions…

The mysterious disappearing towels.

My son has a “set” of towels – not one of which we supplied him with. He studied and lived at SV, lived and worked in Mozambique, and then in Madagascar, and now he has several towels I don’t recognise.
Of the towels I had when I moved in with my darling Glugster about nine years ago, and the ones he already owned, we might have five left.
But we have “acquired” several other towels- in various shapes and sizes- none of which match, and I have no idea where they came from!

Is there some kind of bath towel exchange programme I don’t know about?

Being Mom to an Epileptic Dog

Our dog is epileptic.

This is not news to us.
Our five year old Labrador, Riddick, was diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy a little over a year ago.
This is also not the first time we’ve had an epileptic dog – our mixed breed rescue, Louise, crossed the rainbow bridge just over a year ago due to cancer, but she was medicated for epilepsy for a few years before she died. She was fairly stable, with occasional general seizures, but she picked up weight – a common side effect – and we had to put her on a strict diet.
Thankfully Riddick did not gain weight on the Phenobarbitone medication (AKA Phenobarbital, Pb), but he did experience a few of the other side-effects of the AED – lethargy, sedation, loss of coordination, increased thirst, a bigger appetite, and an increase in urination.
Long-term use of Pb can also affect the liver, and this concerned me as he was only four years old when he started on the meds, but we monitored the levels of Pb in his system with blood tests.
The “fun” part about treating our Riddick (he’s diabetic and epileptic) is that he doesn’t EVER react to meds the way the vet expects him to! He even has professors baffled! This means we have got to know our vets very well, and Riddick loves them.
Riddick hit an especially rough patch this month, where he seemed to develop a rare sensitivity to the AED that severely affected his mobility – it made his hind end completely weak and it was about two weeks before he was strong enough to get up, walk, and busy on his own without assistance – we had to lift him and carry him as he got stronger every day. During that time we weaned him off the Pb tablets (the only way to fix the hind end weakness) and started him on a new AED with fewer side effects, but it was really rough on all of us!
We were exhausted from helping him up and helping him walk, and he was frustrated from being unable to move properly but not knowing why.

Living with an epileptic dog has proved to be really stressful, even when their epilepsy is relatively under control. And when you are going through a rough patch where their meds needs to be changed or they are having seizures, it can be exhausting. And finding the right meds can be a challenge – especially if your dog is like Riddick! The majority of dogs are successfully treated for epilepsy with Phenobarbitone tablets (about 20c a pill), but as our Riddick has now shown he may have a sensitivity to the Pb, we have to switch to an imported option, Pexion, at R12 a tablet!
With the last month having been so difficult for our Riddick, it has made us reluctant to leave him at home without someone to watch over him. I find myself watching Riddick’s every move to look for his “aura” – the little signs he shows when a seizure is pending. I don’t sleep too deeply because I am listening for him… And as he can’t go everywhere with us, we have become quite home-bound…

Yes, I know – he’s a dog, not a child – but he’s my dog, and I love him very much.

Riddick’s epilepsy is also different to Louise’s. Where she would have a general seizure every other month or so, and be absolutely fine in between, Riddick typically has what is called a focal seizure. He is wobbly and disoriented, his head and front legs twitch, but he is still fairly aware, and this is when he paces and walks into things. These fits can last a few minutes and take him about an hour to recover from, or he can have a few of them in a row and they absolutely exhaust him.
Occasionally Riddick has a general seizure. This is a full grand mal seizure and very scary – he lies on the floor, running and flailing, his jaws pulled wide in a grimace, and he pees himself. This kind of fit will exhaust him for half a day, and immediately after the fit he has no idea where he is, who I am, or how to navigate his house. This can last quite some time. At the same time he is super-hyper-excited, but also unsteady on his feet, and he wants water but he doesn’t know where the bowl is. He can be quite a handful until he is back to normal! And for several hours after this kind fit he is very insecure and will stay as close to me as he can get.
Hopefully his new medication will prevent him getting any fits at all.

With the help of many wonderful friends, we got a Holistic Vet disability harness for Riddick a few months ago, because when he is having a seizure – or recovering from a seizure – he tends to want to pace and walk around (also one of his “aura” signs). The worse he feels, the more he walks into things and falls over his own feet, so the harness helps us help him – we can stop him walking into things and I can keep him from losing his balance.
When he is having a seizure, the harness helps me pull him away from walls or furniture so he doesn’t hurt himself.
When we got the harness, we only needed the front half to steady him during and after a fit, but when we went through the days where he couldn’t walk on his own – the full harness proved invaluable in assisting our 35kg boy to walk and busy until he could stay on his own feet again.
I wish I could give each and every one of those dear people a big hug! I don’t know what we would have done without the harness!

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So here’s my two cents if you have an epileptic dog.

Whether or not they are on medication, keep a careful log of their seizures as this can be invaluable to your vet – or to a new vet. I have found this is a great way for ME to stay calm and focused during a fit, and I guarantee you won’t be able to remember every detail and every date when you get to the vet!

Try to note the time and duration of the seizures, and what your dog does during the fit. Note how long it takes for your dog to recover and how they behave after the fit. Try to note whether your dog was playing or sleeping shortly before the fit, or if something else happened that may have triggered it – maybe they were surprised by a sudden noise or some such.

Also record changes to your dog’s diet or environment (new house, new dog, new baby), as well as vaccination dates, vet trips, whether you missed a medication dose, even weird weather!

Make sure you know your vet’s hours, as well as where your nearest 24-hour emergency vet is. And if you go to the vet, take your log book with you.

If possible, get copies of blood test results from your vet that you can take with you if you have to go to a different vet.

Be aware of your other dogs while your dog is seizing. If you have more than one dog, a seizure may trigger an instinctive “pack” reaction causing the other dogs to try and attack the “weaker” animal.