Adventures in hypothyroidism

Not that explanations are necessary but…

I have been quiet before, but this time my inability to post was a result of me really actually truly being incapable.

As many of you may know, I am usually quite fit and active (cycling, boxing, lifting weights, pilates) but I was increasingly finding it hard to recover after workouts and some days even hard to get out of bed or wash my hair… you know, the stuff that makes one socially acceptable. My doctor sent me for blood tests and discovered I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that results in extreme fatigue. She told me to wait six weeks and test again, and in that six weeks I crashed. Badly.

It has been a very busy year. I travelled and wrote and did all the things I usually do, but in the last six weeks I have been incapable of almost everything I usually do. I’ve been on my bike maybe once. I stopped going to gym. I had heavy brain fog so have been unable to read or think or write. The only thing I’ve been good at is sleeping. I could sleep for Australia (except on those nights where my thyroid would surge hellishly back to life and leave me with palpitations and constricted lungs and so wired my brain wouldn’t shut down).

doremouse_1577465i

Accurate representation of me

My doctor tells me it’s just bad luck, but there are other who think such auto-immune disorders bear a relationship to overwork and adrenal fatigue. Indeed, I don’t seem to know how to stop working but as workaholism is fairly socially acceptable nobody has cautioned me very harshly. I feel my exhaustion now, all the way to my marrow.

But the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always the front of an oncoming train. My second blood test showed, predictably, that my condition had worsened and now I am taking medication. I was told that it might take up to a month to work, but after a week the fog has lifted and I don’t feel so flat. I’ve still got a long way to go to regain my pre-Hashimoto’s self, but with a little bit of self-care and kindness, I should have a terrific 2016. You’ll have to expect less of me, as I expect less of myself.

I wish you all happiness and joy for the new year. Take care of yourselves.

Kim xx

Here’s to Women with Bad Reputations

In 1982, December the 18th to be precise, I went to my first ever rock concert: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Festival Hall in Brisbane. I worshipped Joan Jett; she was unconventional and tough and impossibly cool. Joan Jett made my teen years bearable, when my lack of conformity constantly drew out the worst in people. Like Joan, I didn’t give a damn about my bad reputation, and had the middle finger up to the world.

Yesterday, the 15th November to be precise, or almost 33 years later, I heard that song blasted in a huge arena for the second time. This time, though, it was to accompany Ronda Rousey’s walk to the Octagon where she was due to fight Holly Holm in the UFC bantamweight championship. If you’ve had your head under a rock, Rousey is a marvel. An astonishing athlete who’s also articulate, likeable (or hateable if you’re that way inclined), and an outspoken feminist. She is, like Jett, unconventional and tough and impossibly cool. While I wouldn’t say I worship her (I’m a little old for that), I took an avid interest in her; avid enough to book a trip to Melbourne and drop a ton of dosh on great seats to see her fight.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

It’s a matter of record now that Rousey lost the fight. Her opponent, sure-footed and precise world boxing and world kick-boxing champion Holly Holm dominated her from the outset. I quite like Holm (in fact, if you read my books, she’s the spitting image of Bluebell). But to say that Rousey has been knocked off her perch is to misread the situation. Rousey isn’t famous simply because she rose to the top very quickly, looking invincible, in a sport that is so brutal and bloody that I covered my eyes a lot of the time. Her perch is bigger than the UFC. She is at the top of the world as a woman who gives us a new narrative, just as Joan Jett did in the 1980s. I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen both these stars when they were shining their brightest.

Today, give the middle finger to the world in their honour.

Advice for my children: don’t believe them

My kids are still a long way off HSC, but the pressure about “good grades” now pervades every level of school, and prompted me to write this letter to my kids about what life might look like if they don’t believe what the system tells them to believe.

Dear child of mine,

Don’t listen when the school system tells you that you have to get good grades.

Good grades say nothing about you, about your value, about your trajectory. They will have you believe that you need to study hard so you don’t get left behind, so you can get into a good course at uni, then get a good job when you leave uni and, presumably, do that job until you retire or become dead inside, whichever comes first (probably the latter).flatline

That is not a life.

I don’t want you to get straight A’s and study medicine.

I want you to leave school and maybe get a job at K-mart, save enough money for a plane fare for Europe. Maybe you’ll travel around working in bars and fall in love over there and settle in London for a few years and work in a bookshop where the heating’s dodgy and your Australian fingers always freeze. Then maybe you’ll have your heart spectacularly broken and come home to lie on my couch and cry for a few months. Maybe you’ll pick yourself up and teach guitar lessons for a while until you find a job you can do and move out again. Maybe you’ll have a great flatmate who makes you laugh so hard that you snort coffee out your nose. Maybe you’ll drink too much some nights and listen to Led Zeppelin so loud the neighbours complain. Then maybe you’ll take a posy of wildflowers to the neighbour and say sorry and they’ll invite you in for tea and tell you about when they were in the army or when they nursed dying people or played in the symphony.

Maybe you’ll decide you definitely don’t want to be a soldier or a nurse or a violinist and you should do a TAFE course to top up your school grades. Maybe you’ll apply to study economics in Melbourne but get there and decide you’ll do arts in Adelaide instead. Maybe you’ll read so much Shakespeare that you start to think in iambic pentameter. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with the Spartans. Maybe you’ll take agin the existentialists. Maybe you’ll jump to science and find music in the elements. Maybe you’ll learn that the greatest gift of education is not a job, but a spirit of curiosity.

Maybe you’ll work in your part-time job too many hours to get great grades but you’ll pull through and take an internship somewhere interesting that leads you to a solid job you can work your way up in, with great people you like and one guy who pisses you off all the time. Maybe you’ll cautiously fall in love again (not with that one guy). Maybe you’ll have an unplanned baby on the way. Maybe you’ll get married in a hurry.fireworks

Maybe you’ll spend New Years Eves looking at a dozen different vistas: rivers, valleys, the ocean, the city, your lover’s eyes. Maybe you won’t always get home for Christmas. Maybe you’ll love too hard and not always people: songs, dogs, books, sports teams, ideas, smells in springtime.

Maybe you’ll have an adventure. Maybe you’ll sometimes find it hard to make ends meet. Maybe that’s okay. Over time, it will work out. It will all work out. Just live.

Your loving mother.

X Files rest of season 1

I have binge-watched the rest of the first season over the last few days, which hasn’t left an awful lot of time for blogging.

Ep 10 was a mythology one that, I am ashamed to admit, I fell asleep during. It was the first appearance, however, of Max Fenig, who I’d forgotten all about. Looking forward to seeing him again. Ep 11 was the cool evil twins story “Eve”, that had the woman who played Bebe in Frasier in it. I couldn’t help but hear all her dialogue said in the voice she used in Frasier, but apart from that it was pretty cool. Ep 12 “Fire” was a great story but made too much of Mulder’s ex Phoebe, who was an all-round pain in the arse, not believable as a woman he’d have liked (not while Scully was standing right there… sigh).

I used to be in the X Files. That makes me kind of a big deal, Gandalf.

I used to be in the X Files. That makes me kind of a big deal, Gandalf.

But Ep 13, “Beyond the Sea” was pure genius, arguably the best of the entire season. Scully’s dad dies, then makes a ghostly reappearance, and a death row inmate seems to know something about it. The death row inmate was played by Brad Dourif, aka Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings films. He was AMAZING and I think working with another great actor really brought out Gillian Anderson’s chops, which, let’s be honest here, don’t often get challenged by Duchovny.

“Gender Bender”, “Lazarus”, and “Young at Heart” are all solid monster-of-the-week eps, without the emotional character involvement of “Beyond the Sea”. Ep 17, “E.B.E” is a great mythology ep that sees the first appearance of the Lone Gunmen. Yay! Love those guys. I fell asleep in “Miracle Man”, kind of dug the werewolf thread in “Shapes”, but utterly loved “Darkness Falls”, the one where the lumberjacks get swarmed by an ancient parasite they TOTALLY DESERVED because they were logging where they oughtn’t be (at least I think that was the message). Classic characters-in-a-can episode, where the bad thing can only happen if there’s no light.

“Tooms” is notable for the reappearance of Eugene but for the first appearance of Principal Skinner, I mean Walter Skinner (I always got them confused). Great little reincarnation story in Ep 22 “Born Again” and another intriguing twin story in Ep 23 “Roland” (which was, incidentally, going to be my daughter’s name if she was a boy). Then Ep 24, the last of the season, was an epic mythology where something something government conspiracy: you guessed it, I fell asleep in this one too. I don’t want to blame Chris Carter for all my falling asleep as I have recently been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, so perhaps that was to blame. But government conspiracies make me….zzzzzzz.

Onwards into season 2!

X Files season 1 episodes 6-9

Ploughing through them, sometimes amazed, sometimes can’t believe how dated they look.

cos

Whyyyyyy, Cos? Whyyyyyyyyyy?

Ep 6, “Shadows” is pretty good. A young woman’s boss dies (spoiler: is MURTHERED) and he hangs around defending her from rough creeps and trying to enact his revenge. This was a classic monster-of-the-week ep, and it reminded me just how many floral dresses we all wore in the 90s. And flat shoes (usually Docs). And frizzy fringes. Ep 7, “Ghost in the Machine” is sooooo dated, with its artificial-intelligence-gone-wrong theme and the super computer looking kind of like a giant fridge that talks. Bonus cheese points for the “whyyyyyyy, josh, whyyyyy?” the computer says at the end after being vanquished. The next episode, “Ice”, is the polar opposite (see what I did there?), set in the Arctic (or Artic as the Americans all say) and featuring real tension and fear and cool alien gruesome stuff; not to mention a few lols (e.g. Mulder reminding everyone how cold it was in the “Artic” before stripping down). I loved it! Not so ep 9, “Space”, which failed to even make coherent sense (if the “face” was on Mars, then how did it possess Lt. Col. Marcus Aurelius Belt while he was near the moon? and while we’re on believability, why did Mrs Belt call her son Marcus Aurelius?). Carter phoned that episode in, but can be forgiven because the show was still finding its feet, Scully was still finding her style, and Mulder was still finding a non-deadpan delivery style (spoiler: he never found it).

There are so many episodes to go I feel overwhelmed. 24 in season 1 alone! I’d better get cracking.

X-Files Season 1 episodes 1-5

clarice

Is that you, Clarice?

Well, I’ve made a good start by binge-watching the first five eps. To be honest, I had in the back of my mind that I’d just have to “push through” the first season; memories of how AWESOME it got in series 3 and 4 had made me think the first episodes were uneven or clumsy. NOT SO! Right out of the gate, this show is brilliant. First comes the pilot, titled (unsurprisingly) “Pilot”. Teenagers from the same graduating class turning up dead in the forest, a conspiracy, a strange grey ape-like thing in a coffin where a human should be: it asked enough questions and did it with fabulous unsettling atmosphere. Scully’s hair and look was very Clarice Starling. The next few episodes featured UFO’s near a secret airbase (“Deep Throat”), a guy who’d been murdering people for their livers for a hundred years (“Squeeze”), a kid who heard binary code in TV static (“Conduit”), and a lady bigfoot (“Jersey Devil”). In my mind, I’ve often sorted X-Files eps into “Myth” episodes, which deal with Mulder and UFOs and conspiracies and alien abductions, and the “Monster” episodes, which are one-offs, usually more entertaining, when Mulder and Scully solve supernatural crimes. This first season mixes the myth and the monster a few times already (“Pilot” and “Conduit”) and I have much higher tolerance for it than I thought I’d have (having always been a “Monster” fan). At one point in “Conduit”, I actually turned to my husband and said, “I am in love with Scully.” He took it well.

The thing that strikes me the most: they both look so young! Scully is a pouty little dolly, even in her ill-fitting brown suits. Also: it’s stood the test of time. Sure the tech is different (pagers, clunky computer keys, big angular cars), but nothing seems too old fashioned. Perhaps it’s just cos I lived through the nineties.

I’m pumped for more!

X-Files Reboot: Time to Watch them ALL again

So in case you didn’t already know, Fox is releasing an X-Files miniseries in January 2016 featuring the original Mulder and Scully looking gorgeously rumpled by age and experience.

In readiness for this Glorious Event, I am going to rewatch the entire box set (except for those couple of not-so-great last seasons) and blog it right here. Stand by.