Category Archives: ooh! i have a pretty navel

A little announcement

Hello sweeties, I have a little announcement for you, so I’ll fucking well do it. I’m going to be attempting NaNoWriMo this November, so I’ll probably be quieter than usual for the next few weeks.

Luckily, if all goes well, I’ll be posting excerpts over on my Patreon for patrons to peruse. Here is a short, but non-exhaustive list of things I’ve been researching so far:

  • Greek Orthodox monastic life
  • Nuclear EMPs
  • Venetian dogal elections
  • “Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant”
  • John Deere tractor licensing
  • The inner workings of steampunk airships
  • This map
  • Railguns and frickin lasers
  • BBC Radio 4 listings
  • Brain-computer interfacing

So. If you want to watch me try to weave all this stuff into something coherent, then head on over to patronise me. I say this all the pissing time, but I truly do appreciate it if you just give me $1USD a month. Wish me luck!


Living on lamotrigine: 100mg

Content note: this post is a bit graphic about menstruation and sex, and also describes an unpleasant dream involving a Nazi.

Today is Purple Day, for epilepsy awareness, so what better day than to update on my lamotrigine adventures? I’ve now finished titrating up with my lamotrigine regimen, and I’ve been on the full dose of 100mg (50 in the morning, and 50 before bed) for about a month.

First of all, in good news, most of the side effects have gone away. I am no longer itchy. I get a little light-headed once in a while, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Even the weird dreams have either died down, or I’ve got more used to them. Either way, my sleep feels more restful, and less of my unconscious attention is focused on the dreams, so it’s less of a bother. I managed to exhibit some rudimentary control over one of the lucid dreams, wherein my abusive ex was sucking off a fucking high-profile Nazi in the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. I decided I didn’t need to look at this, so I spent the dream enjoying the iconic geometric Borromini dome, which was quite nice.

The side effect that has remained is my periods are from hell. The cramps are terrible, the headaches are awful, my wisdom teeth swell up and everything hurts. I am in a world of pain for two days, because fortunately, at least, my periods only last a little over two days now.

One of the worries a lot of people have about taking any medication is what it does to sex. I’m pleased to report that for me, lamotrigine has killed neither sex drive nor sensitivity. It has had one weird effect though: I never hit that sexually sated feeling; no matter how many orgasms I have, I could keep going. Therefore, for me, sex (solo, or with others) is now mostly constrained by when someone gets tired. I am sexually satisfied, but basically could keep going and never hit the roll-over-fart-fall-asleep point. Which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose.

I had a fuck-up with my meds the other day. I’m taking two tablets a day, with one in the morning and the other at night. On days where I go into the office, I keep the tablets on top of my phone, so when the alarm goes off I take my pill before switching off the alarm and getting up. My big mistake on the day of my fuckup was I hit snooze after taking my dose. And then woke up to the alarm again, automatically took my tablet, switched off the alarm and got up. So, I took a whole day’s dose in the morning. And let me tell you, it was not pretty. I spent the whole day asleep on my feet and itching horribly. The only thing keeping me awake was the interminable itching. So, kids, be careful with taking your medication on time.

The great news is, it seems to have knocked the seizures on the head. I haven’t had one–not even an aura!–since the seizure I had during the first week on the meds. This is pretty fucking great for me, given I was having at least one a month, and now it’s been nothing since January.

I hope this series has been helpful for anyone who is starting on lamotrigine. I know it doesn’t work for some, but I will say this: the titration process is fucking unpleasant, but it settles down once you’re not upping the dose every two weeks. I’m glad I started taking it, because it definitely seems to work for me.

If you want to chat to me about lamotrigine, your experiences or your concerns,  tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
50mg
7
5mg

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The side of Kurt Cobain I wish I’d seen when I was young and needed it

kurt-1

Today, Kurt Cobain would have been 50. Like many other teenagers, I idolised Kurt Cobain. I was absolutely obsessed with Nirvana. I owned all the albums, I adorned my walls with posters, I downloaded all tracks you couldn’t buy on a CD off of Kazaa. Sadly for me, by the time I got into Nirvana, Kurt Cobain had been dead for at least five years. Kurt’s being dead meant two things. Firstly, to my chagrin, I never got to see Nirvana live, except on a worn-out VHS of Unplugged In New York. And secondly, perhaps the bigger impact, I was never really exposed to a side of Kurt Cobain that I needed to see: his femininity, and his ride-or-die attitude towards women.

kurt-3

When I was a teenager, I was awful. I had well and truly drank the Kool-Aid that femininity was bad and to be cool, you needed to reject that shit. I lived in horrendous ragged jeans, so baggy that if it rained, they’d soak all the way up to the knees, and Converse high-tops that were equally terrible in the rain. I was your stereotypical suburban early noughties grunger kid, my DiscMan screeching Linkin Park or System Of A Down when I wasn’t listening to In Utero for the seventy millionth time, because god forbid I listen to any music recorded by a woman! I bought into internalised misogyny wholesale, hating on other women being “girly”, and embodying that particular flavour of alternative subculture misogynistic pretension.

This is the only picture I could find of myself aged 16, and it's not representative of the hot mess I was at that age: I look significantly better here than I usually did.

This is the only picture I could find of myself aged 16, and it’s not representative of the hot mess I was at that age: I look significantly better here than I usually did.

I spent quite a few years as an awful person, and it took years longer to start undoing the damage.

I wonder how differently things would have gone down had I had access the side of Kurt Cobain, my idol, that I only really began to learn about relatively recently. When I was young, I never saw pictures of Kurt embracing femininity, wearing makeup and dresses. The pictures that were available on the posters you bought at Woolies, or the grainy Geocities webring, all showed Kurt in more masculine attire: jeans and unembellished plaid or jumpers. And a lot of the magazine interviews, where Kurt talked about supporting women, articulated sophisticated views on rape culture, played benefits for reproductive rights and unabashedly rode out for women in rock… these interviews were not available to me, the internet not being any good at archiving them back in 2000.

kurt-2

I don’t doubt that the erasure of this aspect of Kurt Cobain’s essence was elided during this period because the gatekeepers were men. It was men who administrated the little websites which featured pictures, men who modded the forums. And it probably made them profoundly uncomfortable that Kurt Cobain was a feminist ally who looked heart-stoppingly beautiful in a dress. So they ignored it and avoided it.

Some of it seeped into my consciousness. I remember once arguing with a friend who didn’t like Nirvana that Kurt Cobain was a good person.

“Why?” asked my friend,

“Errr… he was against rape?” I retorted, which fell rather flat because obviously any decent person was.

I wish I’d had access, then, to what Kurt actually had to say about dealing with rape culture, because it would have helped me no end to have heard these words at the age of 15:

“The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.”

I’m not one for handing out cookies, but that’s a pretty important statement, and far more sophisticated than my understanding of the problem (the lyrics to Polly and Rape Me) was at the time.

kurt-4

I wonder how much differently things would have gone down if I’d known all about this feminine and pro-woman side to Kurt Cobain at a point in my life when I sorely needed to hear things like that. Would I have embraced–or at least not rejected–femininity that much earlier? Would I have been seduced towards feminism in my teenage years, decided to learn more about it, because my idol was into it? Or would I have simply rejected Nirvana and latched on to a band with worse politics?

I wish I’d had the chance to find out, and that for the years between Kurt’s death and information being more readily available, the feminine side to Kurt Cobain had not been hidden.

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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 75mg

Continuing my series on lamotrigine and its side effects, I levelled up to 75mg of lamotrigine last week. I now take two 25mg tablets before bed, and one 25mg tablet in the morning. This is very annoying, because the tablets come 14 to a strip. It was easy to keep track of making sure I’d taken my dose at 25mg (I knew when the fortnight was up because it was one strip), and I could keep track at 50 (the pill from the left of the strip in the morning, the one from the right in the evening). But it’s a pain in the arse keeping track now.

The upping my dose brought back the dreaded itch, although a week on, it’s died back down again. I find that regular bog standard antihistamines help make the itching less intense. I’m pleased to report that my skin is still attached to my body, though sometimes when I’m itching, I wish it wasn’t.

The vivid and lucid dreams remain, and are mostly still boring, although I did have an interesting one the other night where Alan Partridge had been murdered, and it was up to me to figure out which member of East 17 killed him. The murderer got away with it, because I couldn’t remember the names of the band members who weren’t Brian and Tony, in order to investigate them (I googled when I woke up: they’re called John and Terry, in case this dream proves to be prophetic). I’m not sure whether dreaming more vividly, and often lucidly, is the cause of me finding it harder to wake up in the morning, and tireder throughout the day, or if that’s a separate side effect of the drug, but it’s a minor annoyance that I wish wasn’t happening, but it’s not so bad that I want to come off it or switch meds.

I finished the packet I was initially prescribed, and this time I went to a different pharmacist and was given the fancy branded lamotrigine: Lamictal. For the most part, I’m not feeling much difference between branded and generic, except that the Lamictal gives me a feeling like very minor indigestion about 10 minutes after I swallow it. I may be the only person in history to prefer the cheaper medicine.

Regarding prescriptions, my medical exemption certificate came through, and now I’m eligible for free prescriptions, not just for my lamotrigine, but for literally everything. If I get prescribed antibiotics, they’re free. If I develop another condition, all my meds for that would be free. If you live in the UK, have epilepsy and are taking daily anticonvulsants, you too are eligible for free prescriptions. The scheme isn’t well-advertised, and the list of conditions that can grant you free prescriptions is preposterously short, but it’s worth applying if you can. Pop into your GP surgery, and ask them for a FP92A form, fill it out, and then get your GP to sign it and send it. Within a few weeks, you’ll get a little card that means you don’t need to pay for any prescriptions. The free prescriptions is a huge upside to having an unpleasant medical condition and being on medicine with annoying side effects.

I think that’s it for now. Please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll tell you all about the full dose when I’m on it.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
50mg
1
00mg

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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 50mg

Regular readers and followers will know that I’m currently adjusting to lamotrigine for my epilepsy. I’ve been taking 50mg a day now for the last fortnight: 25mg in the morning and 25mg at night. Today, I’ll be upping the dose again to 75mg (25mg in the morning and 50mg at night), with the eventual goal of 100mg a day.

At 25mg, I reported some side effects (or possible side effects): itching, weird pooping, gnarly dreams and light-headedness. I’m delighted to report that the pooping seems to have evened out, back to normal-for-me, and the light-headedness has mostly subsided. I still get the occasional bout of feeling vaguely light-headed, but only once or twice within the fortnight. I’m wondering if it’s lessened because I’m taking a more even dose: the light-headedness at 25mg tended to happen in the evenings, at points where it had been a long time since I’d taken a dose, and now I’m taking more regular doses.

The itching, once again, cropped up when I upped my dose, although this time I was prepared for that, and knew that it didn’t mean I was going to die. However, just before my period, I had a couple of zits, and obviously I made everyone I know look at them and tell me if they thought it looked anything like a horrible skin rash with the words “toxic” and “necrosis” in the name. Spoiler: it didn’t. It was a couple of normal zits. Meanwhile, the gnarly dreams are still there, and still, for the most part, boring as shit.

Sadly, it’s not all good. I had my first period on the drug last week. And let me tell you, for me, menstruation plus lamotrigine is absolutely horrible. I usually don’t get particularly bad period pains, and only on the first day of my period. This month, I had cramps for two days before (as well as the aforementioned zits, which aren’t very usual for me). And then, on the day it came, I was in a world of pain. My uterus felt as though it was attempting to punch its way out of my body; I had a horrendous headache that no painkiller could touch; I bloated up like a balloon; and every time I mildly exerted myself the muscles I’d use decided to join in with the pain. The next day, the worst of it had subsided, but I was still crampy, and I was for the rest of my period.

In good news, though, my period, despite being absolutely fucking horrible, was much lighter. I bled for three days, and there was far less blood than usual. So, hooray, I guess. Like a monkey’s paw wish, I got lighter periods–but HAHA!–they’re hell on earth for the time they’re present.

And finally, I wondered if perhaps my recent uncharacteristic bout of optimism might be down to the lamotrigine’s mood-stabilising effect. I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it’s because a Nazi being punched in the face is really fucking funny. I’m certainly not feeling positive overall, but maybe a little more resilient and less despairing. Last week, something horrible and triggering happened in my personal life, and I fell apart for about two hours, where historically I’d be a mess for at least four days. So, maybe that’s a good side effect kicking in?

That’s about all their is to report for now. As always, please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll update soon about my 75mg adventures.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
75mg
1
00mg

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A new hope?

Content note: this post discusses Nazis and contains a Rogue One spoiler. And, I suppose, a spoiler for Episode IV of Star Wars, too, but that film is 40 years old and you really should have seen it by now.

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting to feel during the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration: hope. And yet, for the first time in months, I felt something like hope brimming up inside me.

Not because a president was elected whose inauguration honestly felt like the opening sequence of a particularly heavy-handed dystopia movie. But rather, because it looks like perhaps resistance is possible. I’d almost forgotten what hope feels like, and forgotten how to articulate such feelings: forgive me, therefore, if this post is somewhat incoherent, and just enjoy the pictures.

Inauguration day in London started with a series of banner drops as part of the Bridges Not Walls campaign. Each of London’s bridges–and many others up and down the country–carried a message of solidarity from activist groups. There was representation from numerous groups, bearing messages representing transfeminism, Black Lives Matter, welcoming messages to migrants… and there was this, over Vauxhall Bridge.

vauxhall

Activists stand on Vauxhall Bridge holding rainbow smoke bombs. A banner beneath them reads “Queer Solidarity Smashes Borders”

When I first saw this picture, it brought a tear to my eye. It is a simple message, so simple. Queer solidarity smashes borders. Four little words, lighting the way beneath a rainbow. It is infused with hope of undoing the violence we face. Of course it isn’t all that needs doing, but it is heartening to see those words prominently against the middle of London, and cropping up all over the news.

I watched the inauguration in a pub, me and a friend agog in horror. But then later, an even bigger cause for hope rose up. Everything kicked the fuck off. People rioted. People protested. People made it abundantly fucking clear that they didn’t accept the legitimacy of a far-right president, elected through dubious means, and neither were people particularly keen on the rich, white men in charge of the world.

limo

A limo is burned at the Washington DC inauguration day protests. Sprayed on the side of it is the words “We the people” and the circled A.

None of this compares, though, to the ultimate cause for hope which erupted on that day. It was, I think, a Destruction of the First Death Star Moment. I am talking, of course, of…

lol

Nazi Richard Spencer gets punched by an anarchist, then looks really fucking wounded. It’s hilarious.

I have not yet grown tired of watching this. The punch is funny, and the look of wounded pride on that Nazi’s face afterwards as he tries to fix his fucked-up is better still. I am utterly delighted that this punch from an unknown hero has become the first major meme of 2017 (a few of my favourites–honestly I don’t think anyone should stop until it has been set to every piece of music ever recorded). I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at the response from the more liberal side of the left. I’d had hatches battened down, defences ready for having the tedious argument as to why political violence is absolutely a necessary and valid tactics, and maybe they should ask their grandparents about the ethics and efficacy of physical violence against Nazis. However… I didn’t really need it. Even liberals seemed to agree that it was broadly all right to punch Nazis, and deeply satisfying to watch.

I also like to think of how pissed-off Donald Trump must be. Such an arrogant and self-centred man must surely be spitting feathers at the fact that an anarchist upstaged him on his Big Day, by clocking a Nazi right in the jaw. I expect he’s been sulking ever since Friday.

It turns out that punching a Nazi in the face is more effective and less resource-heavy than instigating no-platform notices against fascists. Since the punch, Spencer has said he is afraid to leave the house and that he feels he will require more security at public events. This suddenly makes him a far more expensive speaker to book, which will likely prove detrimental to his lucrative rent-a-Nazi-guest career, and severely impact the number of platforms he is given. If every Nazi got a smack in the mouth, we could probably staunch the rise of fascism pretty darn quickly.

The opposition continued over to the next day, when it was estimated that millions of women were marching against Trump, all over the globe. There was a march on every continent, even Antarctica. Everyone, it seems, is invigorated against the man whose name is a fart.

I am in no doubt that the way forward–even the way to hold ground and stay alive–will be rough. I am in no doubt that we need to maintain the solidarity that feels as though it is being built, to expand and build links. I am in no doubt that the problem extends far beyond Trump, and cannot be solved merely by strategic punches and public symbolic actions.

And yet, my low and jaded expectations have been surpassed already. There is more resistance than I anticipated, more passion, more rage. 

As Princess Leia points out at the end of Rogue One, what we have been sent now is hope.

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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 25mg

Those who follow me on Twitter will probably be aware that recently I made the decision to start taking lamotrigine, an anti-epilepsy medication which is also a mood stabiliser. The reason I made this choice was that recently my epilepsy, which used to cause minimal problems in my life to the point I didn’t need to take daily anticonvulsants, has escalated somewhat.

Why lamotrigine? My neurologist initially suggested keppra, but this was ruled out when I told him that I am prone to bouts of quite bad depression, and also irritability. Keppra has a tendency to exacerbating both of these things, so we decided on a medication which would not only prevent seizures, but also perhaps lessen my depressive tendencies.

I’m writing about this because I found it difficult finding out much information about the experience of adjusting to lamotrigine from a personal perspective. There’s lists of terrifying side effects, such as STOP TAKING IT IF YOU HAVE A RASH BECAUSE IT MIGHT MEAN YOUR SKIN WILL FALL OFF AND YOU COULD DIE, as well as slightly less horrifying but still unpleasant things like dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, bad hangovers on just one glass of wine or tremors. Thing is, these lists don’t really help you know much about how badly it actually affects you, so I found myself asking people on Twitter who were willing to give me information, and this was reassuring. So what I want to do is document the adjusting to lamotrigine experience on my blog, where it’s publicly searchable, so hopefully someone in the same boat as me will find the information they need.

I have been taking 25mg lamotrigine, at night, for a week so far. Lamotrigine has a slow build-up, so I’m taking 25mg at night for two weeks, then 25mg in the morning and 25mg (50mg a day) at night for another two weeks, then 25mg in the morning and 50mg at night for two weeks (75mg a day), and finally up to my full effective dose of 50mg in the morning and 50mg at night (100mg a day). The reason for this slow build up is it means you’re less likely to get the nightmarish skin-falling-off rash. I should stress at this point, that the rash is very rare, but it’s serious enough that if you have any skin rashes, especially in mucous membranes, you should stop taking lamotrigine at once and get your arse down to a doctor.

Obviously, this caused me quite a bit of anxiety, and just before I took my very first dose, I went over my skin in a full survey, looking at places where I had little patches of dry skin or ingrown hairs, just so I wouldn’t panic if I noticed these after beginning to take lamotrigine. Nonetheless, nothing scares the shit out of you more than when it turns out a quite common side effect of lamotrigine is itching, and that this does not mean you have The Rash. I was prepared by a Twitter pal that I might experience some itching, and that antihistamines would stop it, but even then, every time I get itchy, it makes me a little worried. Luckily, the itching was worst in the first three days, and seems to have died down now.

The other side effect that concerned me was the idea of the nasty hangovers. I’d heard horror stories from some people using it that even one glass of wine would give you horrendous three-day-long hangovers. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve been drinking around two units of alcohol a day since I started (a little part of me is hoping that the lamotrigine expect me to drink a little and not punish me for it).

Other than this, I’ve experienced a bit of light-headedness, just occasionally. I just feel a little bit dizzy for about a minute or so, before everything is fine again. It’s not very severe, and it’s not even particularly annoying, because it’s incredibly sporadic. I’m also a little sleepier in the mornings than usual, but not so sleepy it makes it impossible to get out of bed.

The thing I wasn’t expecting was lucid dreams. I don’t dream much, but I have been dreaming more with the lamotrigine, and they’re lucid dreams. Disappointingly, they are incredibly boring, mundane lucid dreams. Last night, I dreamed that I was an adviser to the Medicis, but my job wasn’t very interesting, I just had to keep the accounts, and I dreamed vividly of making Excel spreadsheets with a quill and ink. Another example: I had a dream there was a wasp in my room, and I was trying to kill it. I realised it was a dream when I noticed my laundry basket was in a different place to usual.

And finally, I’m not sure if this is a side effect because it’s too early to tell, but my pooping has become somewhat irregular. While it was never very regular to begin with, this last week it’s been either constipation or several mega-dumps in a day. We’ll see if that one stabilises.

So, is it working yet, for controlling my epilepsy? Not really, no. I had a seizure yesterday. However, at present, I’m only on a quarter of the effective dose, and it’ll be another five weeks before I’m up to the full effective dose.

I’ll update, every time I up my dose, and if there’s anything else interesting to report in the meantime. If you want to talk to me about lamotrigine, please do! I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
50mg
75mg
1
00mg

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