January 2020: State of the Natalie

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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January 9, 2020

The current state of the Natalie is…not great. More below the cut.

Still trying to get to the bottom of the ascites; I’ve had appointments with doctors at both Penn and Jefferson and they both need more data before we can decide on a path of action. That data collection happened today, so maybe in a couple of weeks? I really need answers and a path forward, the current state is not sustainable. With every paracentesis, the risk of peritonitis rises.

I am going to need another pancreatic necrosectomy. At this point, I feel like they should just take the whole damn thing out. What’s left is cranky and barely functional. I’ve been dealing with a mild flare-up of pancreatitis for the last two weeks and I’m basically reduced to eating applesauce, canned soup, Jell-O, and Ensure. With occasional bouts of “I can’t deal with this anymore, I want Arby’s,” which is sub-optimal.

I’m a terrible diabetic, I don’t test nearly as often as I should and I know that’s affecting how I’m feeling. I’ve been losing weight; I’m currently at my lowest adult weight ever. It’s disorienting and I have more than a bit of dysphoria around how I look these days. Yesterday I saw someone I’ve known for nearly 20 years but hadn’t seen in a couple of years and he didn’t recognize me. That was really distressing. (But then I went to lunch with a friend and she had no problem recognizing me.)

My umbilical hernia is huge and gross and it hurts–having that much of my intestines on the outside of my abdominal wall is very much not fun. My spleen hurts randomly and it’s probably going to have to come out, too.

I finally gave in and got an accessible parking placard for my car, as walking long distances is hard for me and I’m using a cane these days.

And then there’s work. I did not get a good year-end review. I got a new manager in September and she didn’t like the goals I’d set because they weren’t very specific (I will admit to half-assing them). I had no idea I was going to get an unsatisfactory review, as my mid-year review with my previous manager had been fine and I’d been given no feedback to allow me to course correct. Despite having weekly meetings with my new manager. And despite me doing a lot of really good work last year–I got no credit for any of it because it wasn’t in my goals. So 2020 is supposed to be a “reset” year for me and I’m feeling pretty shitty about it, because I’d previously gotten “consistently exceptional” two years in a row which is basically unheard of in my company.

So I’ve been spending a fair bit of time chewing over that and trying to let it go until I get the detailed feedback from Workday at the end of this month. I’m also working on the most specific of specific goals, things I can achieve even though I’m sick all the time. I’ve also been informed that I will not get any accommodations that are not medically necessary and come with a letter from my doctor. So that’s pretty great.

All that said, I do like my job and I have Ambitions, so I’m planning on sticking it out and turning things around. And with the current state of my health, I am just not up for a job search.

I’ve been doing a bit of painting and knitting, but I also got a Nintendo Switch so I’ve been playing that, too–I’m only playing cute or pretty games on it, recs are welcome. The cats are great–Miles is very good at knowing when I’m not feeling well and bugging me until I lie down. I joke about him being my emotional support cat, but he kind of is.

I know this is a downer of an update, but that’s basically my life right now. I spend 80% of my energy getting to and from work and doing my job and the rest of my energy trying to keep up with everything else and not really succeeding.

But! I will be at ConFusion next week, which I am very much looking forward to. I’m hoping to be able to spend a fair bit of time socializing with folks and doing my best to say smart things on my three panels.

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  1. Mary Robinette Kowal

    Well, all of that sucks. Except the cats. And the knitting.

  2. Mary Dell

    Oof, that’s a lot to deal with. Hang in there! If you’re not familiar with “SMART” goal setting, it can be pretty useful because of its focus on setting measurable goals, rather than merely having aspirations. It’s helpful to be able to present concrete evidence at review time. If you’re interested you can find a lot of free explanations via google.

    Switch recs: Untitled Goose Game is a lot of fun, and Yoshi’s Crafted World is very cute, although not as visually awesome as the similar Yoshi’s Knitted World that’s only for earlier systems. It’s a platformer that is pretty relaxing to play.

  3. Merrian

    That’s pretty tough stuff you’re dealing with Natalie, and none of it’s fair. Thank you for letting us know how things really are. I wish you all the best

  4. --E

    Argh, the work nonsense!

    I highly recommend you get your doctor to provide accommodation directives STAT. If they’re willing, have them go overboard with things like letting you work from home a significant amount of the time (even if you don’t need to). If you document the shit out of everything, it makes it much more difficult for them to fire you.

    Along those lines…be sure to document in your portion of your review/Workday that you were startled/blindsided by the negative performance review, and include all the stuff you said here (weekly meetings where nothing was said, many accomplishments that don’t necessarily meet the previously established goals, but THINGS CHANGE in busy offices. That your new supervisor didn’t tell you until now that they were dissatisfied is a big fucking deal). Again, you want things ON THE RECORD, so if they have any fishy ideas about sacking you, you have massive ammunition for a bias suit.

  5. --E

    To clarify my first paragraph: “they” in the second sentence is your doctor. “They” in the last sentence is your workplace.

  6. --E

    To clarify my first paragraph: “they” in the second sentence is your doctor. “They” in the last sentence is your workplace.

    Argh, why does your site think I’m duplicating my comment…

  7. Steven Rienstra

    I’ve been playing Stardew Valley as my “XYZ about life really sucks, I need a break”. Something very peaceful about petting chickens and cows every “day”.

  8. Laughingrat

    I’m so sorry, Natalie. I wish things weren’t so awful for you right now.

  9. skadhu

    I am so very sorry to hear that things are going so badly, especially since they’re doing it in so many ways at once. I really hope things start to get better soon and your docs can figure out a good plan of action with you. Many virtual hugs if wanted. And cat pictures.

  10. Hope Evey

    Totally different health issues, but I am right there with you on the “dayjob consumes most of my spoons” train. Good luck on all of it!

  11. Andrew

    Hope that you are taking good care of yourself during the current crisis.

    Andrew (worrying about fandom’s especially vulnerable folks).


Words of Wisdom

"It's chaos, be kind."
Michelle McNamara