Friday, August 21, 2009

Confronting my prejudices

Holy cow. This article was written by a person suffering from almost every disease I have struggled to believe in... and on some of them I am now convinced, while others still seem fake-a-roo. The co-presence of all of these tough-to-diagnose and faddish illnesses in one person, though, really gave me a knee-jerk of rejection. Anyone with the money and determination to seek a diagnosis will eventually get a foggy one, right? Or a foggy ten? Or is ALL of this real and she has God and the Devil making bets about her, like Job? Gah, poor woman, either way.

If she had mentioned any one of these illnesses, I'd have tsked and said, "poor thing." But when it becomes two, my reaction is "wtf?" And when it becomes four, my emotional reaction is, "she needs another hobby."

Not all diseases are clean-cut things, detectable as if by a litmus test. Some of them are hard to diagnose collections of symptoms. Gratifyingly, human genome studies are now shedding light on some of them (such as Acute Intermittent Porphyria, from which my husband suffers -- or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which I have.) Others, such as, oh, say, rosacea, are still thought to come from a myriad of causes and are merely a similar set of physiological changes and symptoms. Things get even more complicated with respect to mental illnesses.

Quibbling over where boundaries are drawn in language and thought is the foundation of my training as a literary critic and an anthropologist. It's inevitable that I react with skepticism to neat terminology. Yet I feel rather bad about it.

Nothing profound here, just a ramble.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quickest update

I quit my hateful job. As some of you know, I have -- HAD! -- a hateful co-worker, one who was very toxic to my well-being. Most recently, she has also been engaging in practices that range from questionable to potentially fraudulent. Don't worry, my ex-boss is investigating. But I can't stand it any more and I am free, free, broke, free. I'm job hunting now, and learning real estate basics so I am employable in my family's industry just in case my maybe-boss decides she can afford me after all.

I have rediscovered, with delighted passion, that I have a kitchen. It's been a week of experimentation. Homemade clotted cream (which will kill you, but you'll die happy) and blueberry scones. Mushroom and leek risotto. Sourdough apple cinnamon pancakes and sourdough-crust pizza. Yeah, all of it carbs and fats, what of it? :)

I plan to spend the afternoon in the lab, monkeying with iris and vanilla, after my farewell luncheon and meeting-with-the-boss-to-discuss-the-investigation at work. The offending person won't be attending: she informed a friend of mine in the office that her husband has a doctor's appointment and her first duty is to him and besides, it's her day off, and what does she expect her to tell her? Hee hee.

Also, this article on phantosmia is fascinating. I do get it -- phantom cigarette smoke, ammonia, alcohol, or bleachy smells -- but only when my true sense of smell is suppressed by an infection or flu (plus a few days.) Thank goodness I found out nasal zinc sprays can cause permanent anosmia... otherwise who knows what feasts of vile phantom scents my brain would come up with?