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Wrap-Up: Summer 2022

  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
  • You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

MONTHLY TOTAL: 5
YEARLY SO FAR: 22

Yeah, it’s been a minute, and I’m sticking May, June, July, and August into one post. More on that later.

Five books in four months, and two of them were less than 300 pages. I’d already been going in and out of a reading slump, and then I had surgery, and my brain respectfully went “no.” I think I’m very slowly starting to pick up momentum again, and of course it being the summer season hasn’t helped, since I tend to fall into extreme lethargy during the warmer months. Hopefully I’ll perk up in September. It’s spooky season after all!!!

I’m currently reading STARLESS by Jacqueline Carey, and hope to read BABEL and THE STARDUST THIEF in September. Beyond that I have no plans.


TV UPDATE

First Kill

As silly as this show was, it was also really bingeable. My friend and I thought we’d just give the first episode a try, since we’re both familiar with V.E. Schwab, and then, somehow, one episode turned into eight, in one sitting. Sadly, this has already been cancelled by Netflix.

Abbott Elementary

Took me some time to warm up to Abbott Elementary, and I still don’t think it’s as funny as the workplace comedies that came before it, but it’s got a lot of heart!

House of the Dragon

Even though by the end I despised the Game of Thrones TV show, I’m still obsessed with the ASOIAF world, so there was no way I wasn’t going to at least give this a try. And so far…I kind of love it? I think the cast is absolutely stellar, first off (shout out in particular to Matt Smith as Daemon and Milly Alcock as a young Rhaenyra!), but I’ve also just really missed this world and its politics! And I think, this time around, since I haven’t read Fire & Blood, I can focus more on the show and less on the deviations from source material.

Also, after surgery, the only thing I could do was watch FRIENDS, so I started with season one and made it all the way up to season seven. It was very comforting.

And then, very randomly earlier this month, I finally finished THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Mind you, I’d started watching this show in 2010, the finale aired in 2017, and I am just now finishing it. I had six episodes left of the final season, but honestly, seasons 7 and 8 had gotten so bad that I wasn’t as compelled to watch it. But I’d been wanting to finish it up, and I did, and it wasn’t…terrible? I thought the finale was nicely bittersweet, even if it felt very rushed.

Then I decided to watch a 3hr YouTube video analyzing the entirety of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. It was amazing.

I watched a surprising amount of films in these four months, but I’m too tired to talk about all of them, so just go to my Letterboxd. I will say, though, that THE LOST CITY starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum was a very, very pleasant surprise; I think that movie is a new favorite!


Misc/Life/Writing

So, uh, turns out brain surgery is pretty rough, lol. I don’t know why I was so fully confident that I would bounce back in a couple of weeks, especially when I’ve got the constitution of a sickly Victorian aristocrat.

If you don’t know, I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in November 2021, and in May 2022 I had a transsphenoidal pituitary removal surgery (transsphenoidal meaning they went through the nose).

I think the day/night I spent after I woke up from anesthesia was the worst I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. My nose was completely blocked, but breathing through my mouth meant constant cotton mouth, and I had a horrible pounding headache that I later realized was a migraine. The anesthesia had me woozy and nauseous. I was also only permitted to sleep on my back, raised up high, and as a stomach sleeper, it was pretty much impossible. I didn’t sleep for the entire three days I was in the hospital. And the doctors refused to give me anything stronger than Tylenol.

For whatever reason, I wasn’t moved out of the PACU until the day after my surgery, which means I spent almost 24hrs lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe/sleep, doing absolutely nothing but begging for pain meds. The next day brought its own ordeal: I had to do an MRI to see the results of the surgery. I was worried about the noise and my headache, but what I should have worried about was the incredibly dry air inside the old-ass MRI they stuck me in, and the fact that I could only breathe through my mouth, and the MRI was 45 minutes long. My mouth got so dry I was having trouble breathing; when the technician slid me slightly out to insert the contrast, I thought I could get a break and drink, but I wasn’t allowed to move; my head was held tight between two plastic gates, so I told the tech to give me water anyway, and I figured, well, I’ll suck on my fingers or something, but then the tech, bless his soul, got me some gauze, which I soaked in the water and sucked on, feeling very much like a sickly, sunburnt, and dehydrated sailor.

Then my hospital experience was just…bad. The hospital was short-staffed, my initial male nurse was MEAN as hell (like, why are you being snarky to someone who looks half-dead, my dude???), any request for pain meds took at least an hour, all the nurses took like fifteen minutes every time they had to draw blood and ended up sticking me like five or six times, like I was a practice pincushion (and they drew blood like three times a day!!!), and the hospital bed was an AIR MATTRESS PROGRAMMED TO MOVE CONSTANTLY. The constant movement made me nauseous and didn’t help my headache, but turning the bed off meant I couldn’t move it up or down, and the mattress DEFLATED. I was..extremely glad to be out of there; by day two I was begging the doctors to let me go.

So, that was a very unpleasant surgical experience, and things were not improving!

The headache, unfortunately, persisted, and seemed to get even worse. Meds helped a bit, but the pounding never really went away, even when my doc reluctantly prescribed me oxycodone, and it kept pounding for SIX. STRAIGHT. WEEKS. I literally did not have one SINGLE moment free from the pain, and it was so bad my surgeon had me do a CT and referred me to a neurologist. Everything was clear, and the headaches just…disappeared after six weeks.

But the complicated thing with Cushing’s, which causes excess cortisol to flow through your system, is that after the surgery you are essentially going through cortisol withdrawal, not to mention that my body at that point was not producing the cortisol amount I needed. I was given a low dose of hydrocortisone to help manage this, but even with that, my body took a very, very long time to recover. I’m still not fully recovered, and I’m still on hydrocortisone, as I’m not producing cortisol on my own yet. I’m constantly tired, all my muscles ache, my memory is…even more of a dumpster fire than it was, I have awful brain fog, and the Cushing’s gave me diabetes, which meant I had to go on yet another medication to deal with that.

I am improving, but rather too slowly for my liking, I’m afraid. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of weight in a relatively short time, as most patients do after Cushing’s surgery (main symptom of Cushing’s is abdominal weight gain), and I’m able to do a little bit of yoga every few days. I still tire very quickly, but that could also be exacerbated by the muggy summer weather. I also (ha, ha) still have PCOS, which, funnily enough, shares many, many symptoms with Cushing’s, only PCOS can be improved by lifestyle changes, while with Cushing’s you can’t do anything about it so long as you’ve still got a tumor. And then I discovered that my liver is in pretty bad shape, like one stage away from full-blown cirrhosis, even though I’ve only ever had like two drinks in my entire life, so I have to go see a specialist about that as well, to see what needs to be done.

All this to say, reading and writing has…not been going well. It took me a long time to be able to focus long enough to read, let alone string together words to work on my book’s sequel. It’s been really uplifting to watch my debut novel’s progress, though; the cover was revealed this summer and I received ARCs just last week (and am running a giveaway on my Instagram)! I’ve also gotten so many amazing blurbs from some of my absolute favorite authors, which has been incredible. Also, just a week after my surgery, THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR sold to Orbit in the UK, with an editor I’d been dying to work with! And there will be a UK cover!

So, objectively speaking, good things are happening; I just wish my health weren’t failing me so utterly. But I am optimistic; Cushing’s recovery is known to take a long time, and all my doctors think I’m doing really, really well, so.

3 thoughts on “Wrap-Up: Summer 2022

  1. What an ordeal! I’m sorry you had to go through it, but hopefully you’ll start recovering quicker soon. And what fantastic news about your book! I have an eARC and can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oh my god Hadeer, I hope recovery speeds up for you! that sounds like truly the worst. I also hope moving on top of all this ends up being as little stress as possible. I’m glad things are gradually improving, though, and I’m so happy about your book!!

    Like

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