Monthly Archives: September 2013

How To Adult: Surviving Surgery

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Congratulations!  After close to a year of gross stuff falling out of your lady parts in many strange and unusual ways, you’ve finally convinced yourself to see a doctor, who has gone on to inform you that you’ve got a small benign growth that’s probably been causing all of your ills.  You’ve managed to bite your tongue enough to avoid asking why it’s been landing you on death’s doorstep once a month if it’s so “benign” and now said doctor is talking about sending you in for some minor surgery to zap it off with a laser, thus turning your hoo-ha into a DJ Tiësto concert.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

Your initial reaction should be to fistpump and yell “LET’S DO THIS” in the middle of the exam room to show that you are fearless and awesome.  You should, however, then double over in pain and vomit into a trashcan because you forgot that sudden movements hurt now.

Fast-forward to the big day.  You are a grown-ass woman striding confidently into the outpatient waiting area, but before you can get to the slicing and dicing, you’ve got paperwork to fill out.  Discover that the only clipboards available for you to use towards this end are located in a basket sitting on the floor.  Audibly mutter “son of a BITCH” in front of a two-year-old, whose mother gives you a very angry look as you awkwardly bend sort-of-forward-but-mostly-to-the-side to avoid barfing while you pick one out of the mess.  Dutifully plug away at the papers in front of you, only to realize as you’re signing your name at the end of Page 1273658293 that you filled everything out one line above where it should have been written.  Sigh loudly and exclaim “Fuck me!”  The angry mother from before will now pick up her toddler and move to the opposite end of the waiting area.

Despite your appointment being at 12:30, you will not be seen until closer to 1:45.  During this time, you should ignore the Kindle and fully-functional smartphone with 32 gigabytes of your favorite music and stare blankly at a continuous loop of The Bucket List.  Make a mental note to suggest to the hospital staff that a movie about two people dying of cancer might not be the most inspiring choice for their waiting room.  Once your name is finally called, allow all of your previous hardcore, optimistic mentality to evaporate as you realize that strangers are about to fire lightsabers at your most tender of places and become a 26-year-old woman standing in the middle of a hospital crying for her mother to come hold her hand.  It’s okay.  It’s standard procedure.

Once you disappear through the double doors into the actual exam and prep area, you will immediately be handed three sample cups and instructed to pee in them.  For the past several months you have either been peeing constantly and unable to shit, or shitting constantly to the point of diagnosing yourself with cholera on WebMD and unable to pee.  Today, and only today, you will discover that you can do neither.  After fifteen minutes of sitting on the toilet bargaining, threatening, pleading, and encouraging your bladder, finally manage to get things moving along.  Unfortunately, you have completely misjudged your nether anatomy and will miss all but two drops.  Sheepishly place all three cups in the sample deposit window and try to tiptoe past the lab technician who takes one look at your “bounty” and shoots you a withering look.  Wonder to yourself if she’s related to Angry Mother from the waiting area.

Back in the exam room, a nurse is waiting to draw some blood from you.  Talk up your superior bleeding skills as she ties off your upper arm and announce that you’re an “easy stick.”  She will poke at your arm a few times before announcing that every single one of your veins has suddenly decided to flip everyone the middle finger and not cooperate.  Finally, one in the crook of your arm sort of pops up, but it will immediately collapse and require an agonizing thirty seconds of digging for it before she announces it’s no good and goes to retrieve a specialist.  The specialist will stare at your tiny threadlike veins in dismay before declaring that the only way to get any blood out of you today will be using a lancet on the side of your finger.  The good news is that the stick site will bleed.  The bad news is that it will only provide the smallest drop before clotting.  Two more attempts later, you find yourself surrounded by three nurses yanking your arm downward and massaging the already-sore area to try and coax enough blood out to run the necessary tests.  The doctor will show up in the midst of the confusion and attempt to hold a deep, meaningful conversation at the same time as everyone else in the room.  Try to participate in all four conversations at once, guaranteeing that your greatest contribution to the verbal fray is “Um… I guess… wait, no, July.  NO.  AUGUST.  Latex?  Seventeen.”

The ultrasound technician will come in to take a look at the current state of your not-so-benign lump of shit that shouldn’t be there.  Lift up your gown to expose your stomach.  She will look at you confusedly and instruct you to remove your underwear.  Take a good twenty seconds to realize what she means.  This is not the simple ultrasound that TV has always showed you.  Reruns of ER have lied to you.  Goran Visnjic’s sexy deception will not soon be forgotten.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

The next couple of hours go by without a hitch.  Before you know it, you are somewhat drowsily listening to the doctor giving you instructions on the five thousand and four medications that she expects you to take over the next few days of recovery.  After noticing your blank stare, she begins to place colored stickers on the bottles and on the medication schedule and use smaller words.  Find yourself unsure of whether to be grateful or offended.  She will ask you to verify the medication allergies you have listed in your chart.  Confirm the allergy to sulfa drugs, but hesitate on mentioning the erythromycin thing.  It’s been years since you last took it, and you were just a little kid, so of course it’s going to make you feel crappy (literally), right?  Decide that since your airway stayed open, you’re probably fine and decline to mention it.  She will warn you that over the next few days you may notice some bleeding, but that this is normal.  Her version of “some bleeding” and the actual version you will experience over the next few days will differ greatly.

*whistles*

*whistles*

At home, you will quickly discover that you should have mentioned the erythromycin thing.  You really, really, really should have.  But you will not come to this conclusion until after vomiting up water and saltines for several hours.  Also realize that no matter how excited you are about the Associate Quest Designer position that Blizzard just posted on their website, you should probably not drag yourself out of bed three hours post-surgery to apply, because it will come back to bite you in the ass once the pain meds wear off, which they will do about halfway through your cover letter.

And that, folks, is a true story.  The surprise medical adventure has caused a slight delay in my starting work in the game industry, but with a blissfully short estimated recovery time (assuming I don’t do anything else irresponsible like sit at the computer writing a 1000+ word arti — oh.) I should be back to relatively normal by Monday.  I haven’t been around much because of the poor health leading up to this, and then a very rough couple of recovery days, but I’m happy to report that I can finally sleep without discomfort and have more energy than I’ve had in quite some time.  I haven’t needed to take any of the pain pills they gave me since about 4 a.m. yesterday and for the first time in a while I can actually do simple things like make myself lunch and walk around the house.

In the meantime, I implore all of you to listen to your body, and if you feel like something is really wrong, seek medical attention as soon as you can.  I’m fortunate enough to live in the great state of California which offers a fantastic program called Medi-Cal for those of us who can’t otherwise afford healthcare, and many non-profit hospitals are happy to work with you to reduce or write off your bill if necessary.  I took a stupid risk by waiting so long to get checked out, especially with my family’s history of cancer.  I was lucky this time, but I may not be so fortunate again.  A trip to the doctor isn’t exactly like going to Disneyland, but it could save your life in the long run.

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Then Terrifies The Shit Out Of You

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Almost a year in the making, I’ve finally done it.  I start working in the game industry on Monday.

Everyone I’ve told has been jumping for joy and acting like I cured cancer.  The sentiment is appreciated, and I’m definitely not ungrateful for the job or rolling my eyes or anything, but it’s sort of mystifying for me.  Sadly, this position isn’t in creative development or quest design.  It’s a very important stepping stone to get there, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to work in my own industry, but as a kid, I never celebrated second place or almost or close, not when I knew right on the money or champion would be within reach.  I’d acknowledge the fact that I made it as far as I did, but I wouldn’t kick my heels up and say “WELP, this is it, close enough, I’m done.”

This is also why the mod I’m working on for Civilization V is taking forever and a day.

More importantly, what no one tells you about accomplishing a life dream (and do not misunderstand me, just getting into the industry is one of them) is that it is terrifying as shit once you actually achieve it.  Before, it was an abstract concept, a “yeah, I’d like to do that someday” where you always had the thought in the back of your mind that not everyone gets to be an astronaut or a ballerina and that somebody’s got to be around to make the sandwiches at Subway, so all you can really do is work hard and never stop until you a.) get there or b.) die.  Now you’re sitting there with an itinerary for your first day in front of you realizing that this is it.  This is where you find out whether or not you’re actually good at it.

Getting the job is one thing.  Being able to deliver is another thing altogether.  It has nothing to do with being confident in your own abilities — I know I’m good, but am I good enough?  Did the interviewer misjudge me and make a bogus recommendation that I have no way of living up to?  Am I going to finally get into a studio only to look like a total moron by the end of my first week?  I’ve devoted all of my resources and most of my life to this, even going so far as to put the game industry ahead of myself and my relationships.  To go down in flames now would mean that I sacrificed a good 90% of my life and all of my financial stability for nothing, not to mention that I don’t want to let anyone down.  I hate letting people down.  Every rejection letter I received up until this point, I felt like it was a slap in the face to every friend and family member who believed in me.  When I notoriously screwed up my phone interview, I was too embarrassed to ever follow up with the recruiter I’d been working with, even just to say “thanks for trying,” because I felt like my failure made him look bad in the eyes of his colleagues — “you think THIS loser would be able to do the job?  Hahahaha, go back to recruiter school.”

Not to mention my battles with PTSD and a complex mood disorder.  I think I’ve got them pretty well vanquished for now.  Despite no longer taking the medication that ended up incapacitating me, I can still do things that were once completely unimaginable, including leaving the house and talking on the phone.  Where once I was so agoraphobic that I couldn’t even handle being on a high-population server in World of Warcraft, I’m doing my grocery shopping with my head held high, even splitting up with The Fiance when we get there so that we can grab what we need from opposite ends of the store.  I’m chatting with the cashiers.  I order my own food in restaurants instead of hiding behind the menu and wishing that everyone else in the building would just evaporate.  But there’s always the lingering fear that I’m going to relapse, that one day I’ll wake up and be unable to make it into work because the world outside my window is just too terrifying.  There’s the worry that I may randomly burst into tears at the office or that someone will sneak up on me as a friendly prank and I’ll end up flipping them down onto the floor with my foot pressing down on their neck until somebody manages to snap me out of it (it’s happened before).  I’m terrified that even if I’ve made it this far and I can actually kick ass at the job, the Sha of Mental Illness is going to show up out of nowhere and ruin everything.

And then, of course, there’s the normal “new job” jitters — am I going to like my boss, is my boss going to like me, is this job actually going to be as great as it sounds, that sort of thing.  The game industry has its own set of “what ifs” to contend with, things like “what if the entire office is made up of dudebros who aren’t going to ever take me seriously or give me a chance in CDev because I’m a chick” or “what if I fuck something up so badly that the entire game is a failure and it’s all my fault and I ruined everything?”  I’m agonizing over what to wear on Monday.  The dress code is Standard Game Industry, i.e. the unofficial uniform of jeans and a hoodie, but do I want to go that route and blend in?  Do I maybe want to wear something a little cuter and more feminine, or will that make me seem prissy and unreachable?  How much makeup do I wear?  Should I just skip makeup altogether?  Will black eyeliner prevent them from taking me seriously as a colleague?  Oh God, is too much grey showing in my hair right now?

The reasonable part of me points out that as long as I don’t sashay into the office wearing a cocktail dress and Jessica Rabbit hair and makeup, I’m probably okay and nobody will even pay me any mind, but those “what ifs,” man, they’re brutal.  I can only imagine what a wreck I’m going to be after I get into the specialization I’m aiming for (hell, just thinking about it, my brain is screaming “WHAT IF YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH ANY GOOD IDEAS BECAUSE YOU USED EVERY BRILLIANT THOUGHT YOU WILL EVER HAVE IN YOUR DEMO PORTFOLIO?!”).

To answer your next question, yes, it is extremely exhausting to be me.

But I’m not going to run away and hide, because I’ve worked too hard and struggled too much to get to this point.  My foot is in the door, and I keep reminding myself that I am extremely good at what I’ll be doing and will probably be fine.  Everyone I’ve spoken to at this studio has been a great human being so there’s absolutely zero reason to expect anything different when I get there on Monday.  And if someone has a problem with my eyeliner, they can go fuck themselves.  I am the Bunny Overlord.  Let’s do this shit.

The-best-foundation-for-a-flawless-look-is-the-blood-of-thines-enemies