First Munch of the Year

Munches are informal social gatherings held by the kink/alternative/poly/ethical non monogamy communities to just… chill and hangout and are a good way to put faces to names and see what people are like in general.

During covid we’ve kept to ourselves, and with boy s moving up to us we’ve had less contact with people in those scenes over the last couple of years. With things becoming more stable though, people are starting to cautiously make noises about starting them up again in our local area, so I decided to go introduce myself and catch up with some of the people I’ve been talking to online for a while.

And so to a pub garden, where we sat and ate and chatted until it was time to close up. And that’s what a munch is. The only real difference is that there’s less small talk and more deep discussion and geekery – favoured topics were comicbooks, authors, TV shows, boardgames, warhammer, oh and how useful a softly commanding voice can be while managing staff sometimes 😉

The boy s wasn’t feeling up to it, so I dropped Lady M over for a sleepover and went on my own, so that I can at least make introductions at the next one, in much the same way that boy s did for me when we first got together. Seems only fair to be able to return the favour.

One of the people I was talking to actually lives quite close, so I gave them a lift as they were on the way and that was another nice round of chat to make the journey go smoother. So all in all, a good start back, and I’ll see about the next one.

Mentoring Day

Everything was a bit of a complicated rush first thing this morning, with missed calls from nurses, bus routes diverted, and a cub unearthed from his bed just for starters. What it settled into, however, was a day of mentoring a new colleague and looking to future plans for the possible relocation of one of my libraries.

For the most part, today consisted of talking through experiences as a new group manager, and assembling a crib list of useful people to get to know. We also discussed the existential question of what, exactly, our jobs are. This is always a surprisingly useful thing to do for affirming common concerns and goals, as well as acknowledge the wife range of pastoral elements involved in our roles.

And then I had to dive home quickly to be back in time for the cub to get to the flat. I fed and watered him until Lady M was home, and then went and retrieved boy s so I could end the day with everyone settled in their own homes.

A simpler day is planned for tomorrow. We’ll see how that pans out.

Unexpected Quiet

We’re looking after the cub this evening while boy s is visiting Lady B back in Portsmouth for their tabletop D&D group. Well, I say looking after, but he fell asleep on me about quarter to six in the evening after I’d fed and watered him. At first a nestle against my arm, it soon turned into an arm shoved through the front pocket of my hoodie and a nestle under my arm and lights completely out.

He has what can best be described as a “burning the candle at both ends” approach to being awake, which largely comes from a fear of missing out on anything interesting going on around him. Today was the day that his body said enough, and so I had a small sleeping person curled up on me. It was very sweet.

Lady M and I eventually manhandled him into bed in the spare room and he slept for a good five hours before briefly surfacing just as I was switching lights off to go to bed. I brought his phone in, plugged it in to charge it, and he was asleep again as soon as his head hit the pillow.

So it’s been a quiet evening, and I’ve largely been working on my short stories to polish up the collection. Silver linings, and all that.

Oops

Time flies sometimes and this week has been a case in point, to the extent that I completely lost track of time this week and forgot my regular counselling session this evening. I have duly made my apologies and acknowledged my status as a doofus.

Most of my tiredness today is self inflicted, but being the consumate geek that I am it has been through games rather than debauchery. Lady B, boy s and I have been regularly playing Destiny 2 together, using Discord to chat while we do, and we decided this week to have a go at the Grasp of Avarice Dungeon. This is a term for a high end adventure with challenging mechanics that isn’t quite as challenging as a 6 man raid event.

We spent about three hours earlier in the week making our way through the earlier stages of the scenario, and found ourselves cursing the developers as much as we were laughing for the traps, fake-outs, and fast-paced challenges that faced us.

We died, a lot, but kept at it, and cursed loudly when network issues meant we had to call it a night. Last night, we agreed to stream another attempt and were delighted to find that we had triggered a save point at the beginning of the boss fight.

A recording of the shenanigans can be watched here: https://www.twitch.tv/jedileah/v/1271300640?sr=a&t=1s

And we won, eventually, but it was the best part of four hours to do so, with some minor odds and ends at the end…

It was a huge effort and the first time any of us had done this type of activity, so small wonder that today has been generally reserved for quietly pootling around.

Back To It

I know my place of work wouldn’t begrudge me taking more recovery time but I don’t feel its needed and I’d rather not tap that good will unless or until I need it. With that in mind I dove back to it and soon caught up on what was going on. I then only needed to suggest a couple of course directions and affirmations to the team. That was when the consultations started.

I’ve got a reasonably high profile at the moment. I run the biggest group of libraries, and have fostered and encouraged engagements with local groups to build up our offers and develop innovative ways of working in addition to the core library services. I’m also vocal and proactive on equality and diversity issues and initiatives.

As a result I’ve started to be the ‘go to’ person for opinions and signposting on related queries, and have just been asked if I mind deputising in as EDI service representative for the libraries. If it helps people and opens doors and opportunities for fairer services then I’m there. If nothing else it’s something that’s close to my heart.

A Little More Human

I’m ending up the weekend feeling a bit more rested and functional than I have in a while – I’ve even managed to have a bowel movement four days after the operation so I guess I can start acknowledging that I’m full of crap again 😉 I was starting to worry that my body was so traumatised by the whole experience that I would need to retrain myself.

The quiet worry of it all did end up giving me a headache this morning, I think it was made a bit worse by having agreed to run a one shot game this afternoon using the UnFamiliar kickstarter rules for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

I had only a vague idea of a plot, but had at least knocked up some characters guided by some prompts I’d put into the group chat yesterday.

I ended up pretty much winging it. The background has all four characters being ex-Familiars to a small number of spellcasters who had developed a spell between them to emancipate them.

Lady M played a flying squirrel who used to spy in aristocratic circles. Lady W played a Staffordshire cross that had ended up being a carer for their master in their dying days, the cub joined in with a boisterous frilled dinosaur that knew kung fu, and boy s played a fussy ex lab rat who had picked up alchemy and a few spells along the way.

Their tale involved rescuing a library researcher who had “fallen” into the delivery system and was now trapped in the stacks, locked in a cage as an unauthorised item. Shenanigans ensued.

So, an odd return to the tabletop, but the cub has expressed an interest in playing more, so who knows what will happen next…

Well That Was An Experience

Fighting every urge to rush back to work, I’m instead listening to medical advice to rest for 48 hours, backed by the fact that my insides feel like someone’s had a good rummage in there. Which I suppose they have.

I had a double procedure yesterday to investigate my stomach issues. I had both an endoscopy (camera down the throat) and a colonoscopy (camera up the bum) with sedation. The surgeon was happy with how it all went, saying there were no nasty surprises, so that’s a relief. He did remove some polyps but was reasonably sure they were non-cancerous and he took some biopsy samples as well. All are being sent for testing, which should take a couple of weeks.

The experience was, as far as these things can be, relatively good. Having done the laxatives and fasting, I checked in and did the usual checklists of medical questioning to double check against what they already knew. For me there was a joy that there’s a bluntness to conversations with the nurses and doctors so we could relax into joking and not dancing around the terminology and details. It actually helped relax me.

I dutifully changed into the requisite gown and backwards disposable pants, took infacol to settle my stomach/get rid of bubbles in the guts, and then we were into it with, I have to say, the most painless cannula fitting I think I’ve ever had! I honestly didn’t even feel the needle and as a veteran of these things I have an appreciation of the skill that can take.

I was going to be sedated, which was a mercy, and it kind of worked in that it knocked me sideways briefly enough for the actual insertions. Being me and awkward like that, I kept waking up. As you do. Apparently this is not uncommon as they try to keep the sedation light. They had mentioned it before the procedure so I was more bemused than alarmed. They added more sedation a couple of times but again it was brief periods of being out.

Rather than feeling any worry, I instead watched the screens with fascination and switched to gas and air when they’d done with my throat. I remember admiring my own internal gut structure and it certainly all had a healthy glow as far as I could see. It reminded me of some of my organic flowing artwork, truth be told.

And then we were done, they wheeled me back to a recovery bay to observe me for an hour so I sat up with my phone and let people know I was okay. It meant I could coordinate my release with Lady M so I could walk out the door, wander round to the car park and meet her coming up from the car.

But I’m exhausted. My throat is fine, not a hint of soreness, but stomach and guts are aching gently as they wake back up and are reintroduced to food and drink.

So that’s a new experience. It’s not one I’m wanting to have again any time soon but at least I now know what to expect and that’s therefore another fear thrown in the bin. Time for a rest.

Quick Update

Another day closer to the procedure, and after yesterday’s ultrasound scan today was mostly about PCR tests, sorting laxative prescriptions, and going into isolation. Being a conscientious sort I have of course been keeping colleagues and staff appropriately briefed and told them I’m going to be unavailable for a couple of days. In accordance with the book of sod, this has then meant that my phone has been pinging non-stop with notifications and questions. I may have quietly growled at the last person to call me and have now put my phone on “do not disturb”.

One nice thing to have happened this week has been the introduction of a new colleague at my level, taking over the Farnham area libraries – and as it transpires I already know them a bit. They used to run the local Harris + Hoole coffee shop in the local Tesco a couple of years back. They still had the stunned expression of information overload that everyone has when being shown round and introduced to everyone, but hopefully that will ease quickly enough. I think they’ll get their feet under the table quick enough.

I’m still not sure if the twist in my stomach is illness or anxiety.

Rainy Day

Its my Saturday on duty (I get about one a month) where I’m one of the senior staff available to back up the branch managers, call in reinforcements, or provide some direction as required – and its the first time this year I’ve stepped back into one of the libraries as I’ve been partially isolating ahead of the hospital visits over the next few days. For the most part this has me sitting in my office working through a series of tasks I’ve prioritised while listening to the heavy thud of large raindrops on the window sill and roof edging next to me. It’s underlaid by the wet hisses of cars driving through standing water on the roads, and the faint clunk of doors opening and closing elsewhere in the building.

The biggest surprise for me this morning though was the anxiety that gripped me about coming in. There was a dread about getting up and getting in and being back in a public building – not because of any fear about the job but I think mostly tied in to my anxieties about the hospital and the active preparations I have to make next week for it. I may just take the next few days off as sick leave so I can focus on and deal with whatever needs to happen or that comes of it all – and I know that I’ll be supported by all in doing so. Indeed, there was some surprise by staff that I was in given they know how unwell I’ve been recently. I’m certainly not feeling chipper, as much as I wear the mask at the moment. I’m not sleeping properly, and my appetite has fled, leaving me with a hazy fog in my brain that isn’t doing any wonders for my mood.

I think its partly a legacy of working in the public sector on the frontline for so long that I want to fly the flag and be present as much as I can be. I appreciate the value of being visible on many levels, and one of those is just the reassurance that there is a more manager-y manager around on the weekend – that the wider support structure and hierarchy is up and running and so business as usual can take place. There’s also buried in there a guilt about being unwell that I just can’t shake – some kind of conflation of sickness as some kind of failing that I know is utterly false, and yet I can feel it dragging claws in my guts quite separate from the discomfort of whatever is wrong with me.

Right now, my mood seems to match the rain – a cliche, but then they all have to come from somewhere to be so widely recognised. Here’s hoping for a break in the weather in a bit.

Just When I Got Cocky…

I have various medical investigations over the next week or so, and I’d managed to get to the point of thinking “maybe I’m imagining things” as I’ve had a few weeks of good health. As if to remind me to stay in my lane, my body decided to flare up again the last couple of days and now I’m back to being exhausted and cautious again.

I’m so used to being the “strong and handle everything” person in and for family that the concept of not being able to bounce back so quickly from illness is proving a nasty shock. I watched Encanto the other day and the character of Luisa who is literally carrying other beasts of burden and treating every request as an instant order to prove their worth hit just a little too close to the mark. Her song about pressure is now living rent-free in my head at the moment (but then it is very catchy).

So, I’m going to try and pace myself in between the medical poking and prodding and keep thinking positive and practical thoughts to keep my spirits up. I’m almost looking forward to getting sedated next week to force me to stop…