Sunday, September 27, 2009

8 weeks on

Finished Neil Gaiman's Ultimate Sandman. Thoroughly enjoyed the Dream's visits to the Middle Ages. Shakespeare's cameo in one segment presaged his being featured in one of the best issues in the series.

John Hodgman is more amusing on TV than in print. I found his second book, More Information Than You Need ..., rather tedious. The layout reminded me of a nineteenth newspaper. Maybe it's the need for glasses again after 15 years without thanks to LASIK, but the alternating small print and tiny print was more irritating than entertaining.

Made a couple of discussion group postings on liblicense-l tonight. Probably the most significant engagement in professional discourse in close to a year. It's definitely time to re-engage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Work +7 weeks

Still no headaches! This is really a departure, going months on end without having to take painkillers, usually more than once a week.

Read Infinite Crises, not as compelling as it would have been if I wasn't a couple of decades behind with the DC mythology.

Have Gaiman's The Absolute Sandman. Read the first series, featuring Dr. Destiny, with a nod to the Golden Age superhero and an extended cameo from John Constantine (not Keanu's incarnation). I recognized Brute and the Glob in the second stanza from Jack Kirby's Sandman endeavors. Very impressed with the seamless references to traditional comics timelines from within an epic taking place largely within it's own fictional realms.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

6 weeks and counting

Hosted Hema and colleagues from Cal State Long Beach on Tuesday. Very nice visit. Struggled a bit with procrastination while making arrangements, but it went well.

Read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes 1 and 2 this week. Edward Hyde makes a wonderful anti-hero. Loved the nods to The Wind in the Willows, Mother Goose and Beatrix Potter in the Dr. Moreau vignette in v. 2. Didn't anticipate volume 1's mystery villain nor recognize if the primary villain was borrowed or original to the tale.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

5 weeks & a TV appearance

The TV segment I taped on TMS last Thursday finally aired on Friday, September 4. I have a few minor quibbles with the reporter's interpretations, but they really are minor compared to the positive effect of the impact of the coverage of depression and TMS.

The smoke and ash from the fire is finally starting to clear. The moon was actually white last night, instead of red or gold. Corin is likely to be in Ireland, to study for the fall semester, before the fire is contained, much less extinguished. The sky is a light blue and sunny today, a most welcome change of pace.

Watched Juno and V for Vendetta this week. Absolutely no common elements between the movies, but both were quite enjoyable. The V graphic novel was better than the movie.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Work +4 weeks and the Station Fire

Back to work full time for a month now. Things still are going well, not seeming nearly as strange as it occasionally did at first.

Did a TV interview about TMS and depression with Dr. Cook for KABC on Thursday morning. The Station Fire in La Canada Flintridge bumped the segment from both Thursday and Friday newscasts. Hopefully it will air during a less urgent news period in the coming days.

The Station Fire necessitated working from home on Friday just in case I needed to evacuate the house and pets. Friday was okay, but Saturday brought mandatory evacuations within 3/4 of a mile of our home. We opted to take the pets, 5 cats and a dog, and many valuable/irreplaceable items to visit friends in Pasadena overnight.

Evacuation area is still in place, but the fire is no longer actively threatening our neighborhood, so we came home this morning. Despite the stresses of the fire, displacement, and return home, I haven't been mentally slowed or experienced the physical exhaustion and somnolence which has characterized my depression during stressful situations.

Read another novel, Working for the Devil, by Lilith Saintcrow. Interesting post-nuclear society, with psionics, vampires (off camera), and Mafia families as major factions. When I bought the book, I saw that there were at least 4 more in the series about Necromance and bounty hunter, Dante Valentine.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Work +3 weeks

Settling into normal rhythms in the office. Remembering how to do most things when they arise. Splitting work between Mac and PC.

District 9 was outstanding! It felt more like television news and documentary footage rather than sitting through a movie.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Work +2 weeks

2 full weeks in the office. It doesn't feel quite so strange. Making progress on clearing some lingering projects off my desk. Spoke with a few faculty members this week. They were glad to see me back at work. Went to a departmental seminar Friday and saw a few more folks for the first time in quite a while.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Work +1 week

Back to work for a full week, 5 full days. Still trying to find my depth. Some of the routine activities, like ordering a book, required a little brushing up. Other activities continue to be as familiar and comfortable as an old glove.

Several people, faculty and staff, have mentioned seeing the piece in the Times. All have been supportive.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to work

I went back to work, full time, on Monday, August 3.

My very sincere thanks to Dr. Cook and the Semel Institute at UCLA for the TMS therapy and to Kaiser Permanente, my medical insurance provider, for paying for the treatments.

I appreciate the support of my friends who've been following the process through this blog.

The support of my family cannot be understated, without them, none of this would have been possible.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

... and through the final taper

Last week had treatments on Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Amy and I drove out Santa Monica Blvd. and down the California Incline to PCH. We had lunch at Gladstones and continued through Malibu to the Gordons' beach house on the Silver Strand in Oxnard, where we spent the rest of our 25th anniversary week.

Corin, Katie, and Garrett came out Wednesday for the anniversary itself and stayed overnight. Wild game of Triominos, in which I was thoroughly trounced. I redeemed myself by dominating the Texas Hold'em.

Corin and Katie both made original art projects for anniversary gifts. Definitely mutants! I can't draw a straight line with a T-square.

Read Alex Bledsoe's The Sword-Edged Blonde at the beach and started Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. PPZ and Anonymous Rex are on hold while I read Vonnegut.

Did a phone interview from the beach with a writer from the LA Times. Big article on depression due in this Sunday's paper. Dr. Cook thought that I would be able to articulate my experiences with depression.

Lunch with Jim on Tuesday went well. Hoping to return to work in the next week or so.

Final taper session today, #35. Week-long booster series are possible in the event of a relapse. Good to know.

Corin and I went to (500) Days of Summer this evening. Good movie, albeit somewhat sad watching someone's life swirl into oblivion. Nice to see him rally and have another shot at happiness.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Board games and zombies

Played Rail Baron with Corin, Katie, and Garrett Wednesday night. Started reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies this morning. Wish I could read the original in a side-by-side mode for comparison. Through the first 50 pages or so, it's a hoot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

... and now the taper

Finished my 30th TMS session on Tuesday and had my first session of a tapering period today. Thursday is a private holiday with another treatment scheduled for Friday.

Finished A Salty Piece of Land. When I went to check the cut of Mr. Darcy's zombie-fighting waistcoat, I was unable to locate the inestimable Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Instead I settled into Christopher Stasheff's The Warlock's Last Ride, the umpteenth, and final, installment of the Warlock in Spite of Himself series, and quite possibly the end of the related Warlock Wandering series.

PPZ has been located and is queued up for reading next.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catching up some more

Summer Nationals have wrapped up in Dallas and ALA is winding down in Chicago. It feels very strange not to have been to either one.

Reading Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land. Probably finish it tonight.

Tomorrow marks the 30th treatment session of my TMS adventure. There will be a handful of follow on treatments to taper off rather than simply stop abruptly. Still haven't experienced any untoward side effects from the treatments -- knock on wood.

Bought a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies this weekend. Looking forward to seeing how the narrative has been spliced together/spiced up.

Saw Brüno Saturday night. Katie and Garrett invited Amy and me along to the show. Amy watched most of the movie through her fingers. She was mesmerized and horrified, in roughly equal parts. It was appallingly funny and well deserving of its R rating. The Hangover retains its place as the absolute laugh out loud funniest movie of the summer, but Brüno far surpassesYear One in the funny sweepstakes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Catching up on the last week

Finished American Gods on Thursday night. Stayed up past midnight to finish it. I don't know how many years it has been since I was sufficiently hooked on a book to pull a marathon reading session to completion.

Long, lazy weekend. Amy and I saw The Proposal. Rated funny, in contrast to Year One -- amusing; The Hangover -- hilarious.

Katie and Garrett were in Dallas for the (fencing) Summer Nationals. First time I haven't been at SN since 2002, before Corin first started competing. Refereed 2006-2008. Hope to be back on the North America's Cup circuit refereeing in the new season.

Corin went to Big Bear with friends.

Had homework -- depression mood inventory -- on Tuesday night, after my 25th session. I had started with a score of 39 (high end of moderately depressed). Indicator has been falling throughout the course of the TMS treatment. This week -- 16! A score of 10 or less would be considered remission. Dr. Cook is delighted. I'm pretty happy about it, too.

No side effects to report. No scalp tenderness. No headaches (STILL!). No need for Tylenol or other meds to keep headaches at bay.

Reading Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land currently.

Started Eric Garcia's Anonymous Rex during the weekend but didn't really get traction. Still hopeful, though. Copies of Casual Rex and Hot and Sweaty Rex, further adventures of Garcia's velociraptor Sam Spade, have been on the bookshelf for a few years. Corin read and enjoyed the novels.

On Monday it became official, I'm getting older. Went to the ophthalmologist. I'm a little near-sighted in my left eye, a slight regression from my LASIK 14 years ago. My right eye is slightly far-sighted. I'm not ready to start propping menus up on the far side of the table to read them, but I'm probably due for driving glasses. Somehow, although TMS is a veritable cure-all, it doesn't seem likely to address this situation.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 22

An intern sat in on the TMS session. I learned a fair amount about the various positioning adjustments made to replicate the initial measurements to locate my motor strip and frontal cortex.

Reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Always enjoy a good yarn invoking mythic gods mucking about in the modern world.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 21

Into the fifth week of a six week course of TMS treatments. Don was startled today by a reading showing a previously unseen orientation of the sensors. It didn't feel any different to me, though, and treatment continued without any significant adjustments.

Finished The Scarlet Pimpernel tonight. It's pretty clear to me that the rich socialite, orphaned at a young age, typified by Bruce Wayne, but much more widely employed in the superhero genre, originated with Percy Blakeney.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods is nextin the queue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 20

No add on pulse trains today. Minimal finger twitching.

Car fire started in the Sepulveda Pass as I was heading down to Westwood. Rubber necking at the burnt car two hours later slowed traffic for several miles on my return trip.

the fourth weekend

Saturday morning we went to a stress management class at Kaiser. The instructor did a good job communicating the concepts. Nothing I hadn't heard at Huntington, but well presented nonetheless. Perturbed but not awfully put out by an abortive attempt to find a 3 y.o.'s birthday party at the Santa Fe Dam, with no more information than it was (to be) somewhere at the dam. 45 minutes wandering in near triple digit temps, but it could have gone much worse.

Sunday I was slowed by a nasty crick in my neck. Couldn't look over my right shoulder, which makes driving a dicey proposition. Played some Munchkin with Corin and his friends in the evening.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 19

The treatment routine is fairly pat. Traffic continues to offer challenges, but thoughts of packing it in are not as common when creeping toward Westwood.

Bought a second 25 day parking pass. How can UCLA have financial difficulties with the killing they make on parking?!

Friday, June 26, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 18

The routine is pretty solid. I'm less antsy in the chair, meaning fewer adjustments during the course of the sessions.

Finished Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's The Grand Tour. Repeated references to the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel in the book have led me to dig out a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel to read. I've read that some trace the origin of the superhero genre to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Now I'll be able to judge for myself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 17

Don was back from his illness. Late start. Campus-wide meeting ran long explaining that UCLA staff are getting an 8% compensation hit, but still not known if it's pay cuts or furloughs. Staff learned absolutely nothing new.

Treatment went well. Quite possibly the least finger twitching while feeling like it was completely on target.


Headaches are considered a possible side effect, as is scalp tenderness, from the tapping. I haven't encountered this in the least. In fact, I don't think I've had to take anything for headaches since March. Score one for environmental changes, even if that means being out of the work environment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 16

Week 4 started, albeit a day late. They didn't know until late afternoon yesterday that I hadn't just stood them up. I left voicemail, but Don was out sick yesterday and today, too.

Depression inventory scores have dropped from mid-40's (moderate-to-severely depressed) into the 20's, I'm guessing still high 20's, over the course of the TMS treatment. I'm very encouraged by the relief I've achieved, which, in turn, makes me happier and more optimistic about the eventual success of the treatments.

Monday ....

Was feeling ill and exhausted throughout the day. Couldn't make the drive to Westwood. Should find out Tuesday what this means to the schedule over the long run.

the third weekend, Father's Day

Got up early and walked the dog. Then back to bed and slept late. Life is good!

Amy, Corin, and Katie continued to be thoughtful in choosing gifts. I was excused from the ongoing garage makeover. Corin and I went to Year One in the afternoon. Year One was amusing; The Hangover was hilarious.

Dinner was wonderful at Brix 42 in Old Town. It's quickly turning into one of Amy's and my favorite restaurants.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

the third weekend

Weekend is off to a good start. Not a lot going on. The morning and early afternoon were quite misty/drizzly, but has cleared and cooled nicely into the evening. Another board game night tonight. No reading so far today, not exactly a surprise after the 100+ pages/day pace I've been maintaining.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 15

Three weeks on, I'm feeling pretty well overall. Still get angsty or discouraged from relatively minor incidents, but I'm shaking it off better, certainly better than any time this year.

Finished Thursday Next: First among Sequels. That makes at least 6 novels that I've read, either in full or finished after months of delay, since starting the TMS treatments. I haven't mustered that level of concentration consistently in more than 6 years.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 14

Still get discouraged and think of canceling when snarled in traffic on the way to UCLA. Combined with feeling tired when I set out, I had some concerns about the drive home. The treatment itself went well. Diet Peach Snapple for the drive home helped.

Finished Ender in Exile tonight. There wasn't enough left to make it worth carrying to my appointment. I resumed reading Thursday Next: First among Sequels, which I've been reading intermittently for more than 18 months. That, in itself, speaks volumes about the difference the TMS is making in restoring my abilities and habits.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Days 12 & 13

I missed making an update yesterday. Spent more time focusing on reading and less on my computer. Just as I was getting ready to complain about a resurgence in napping, today proved nap free.

Dr. Cook left after getting me started today. He was testifying at a hearing regarding insurance coverage for TMS. More power to him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 11

Monday went pretty well. Started reading a new novel, Ender in Exile. The magnet angle shifted a bit during the treatment. I went from finger twitches to a bit of arm flopping.

Once again motivated to shop and cook dinner. I can't tell you when last happened twice in a month. It has to have been several years since I really felt like food shopping and cooking were fun and enjoyable activities, worth the energy expenditure.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the second weekend, part II

Predictable entry titles, but it works for me.

Sunday brought more of the nausea which has plagued me during this current bout of depression. Wish it we could figure out a way to get past it. Missed Steph's high school graduation as a result, but rallied for the reception at the Khoury's home.

Home and bed by 3am last night, thanks for Katie's flight from Hawaii being an hour late, an extra hour for baggage claim, then the nearly hour long drive home.

Need to do my mood inventory homework before heading to UCLA shortly.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

the second weekend

I wish we could get past the drizzly, gray June gloom around here. Feeling rather lethargic. I'll need to document this in my homework, the weekly mood inventory which is due Monday.

Lakers' game tomorrow should add a little excitement to the mix.

Friday, June 12, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 10

Two weeks in the books. I'm feeling pretty good with the experience so far.

Traffic was discouraging. Took almost 90 minutes out of the hour and a quarter which I've been budgeting most days. I was getting anxious about getting there at all until I got past the car which had flipped on the Ventura Freeway.

Despite the unsettling news from Caltech yesterday, I didn't notice any profound impact today. Played Empire Builder with Corin and a couple of his friends this evening. Staying focused for 5 hours of board games might have been an insurmountable challenge a few weeks ago.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 9

Had a little headache from sun glare heading in to my appointment today. Alignment was good and finger twitching was nominal. Had to stop and get a little water part way through. Awkward when your head is clamped in position and you'd rather not release and re-align.

Making good progress on Bone Crossed, the 4th of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels.

Got word today that I have exhausted my sick and vacation leave. Paperwork coming in the mail to convert to unpaid leave of absence. That rocked me back on my heels for a while, about an hour serious impact, a bit longer kind of down but fairly functional. Without TMS that might have knocked me flat for a day or more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 8

Alignment and finger twitching back to normal today.

Staying with Amy at the Westin Bonaventure downtown for a couple of nights. She's giving a talk at the Childhood Obesity Conference tomorrow. I've been a little anxious in the room. I think the odd shape makes the room feel small.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 7

Dr. Cook had a meeting, so we shifted the appointment to 2pm. The alignment seemed a little off to me. Hand twitching was virtually nonexistent, but I wound up with a little eye blinking from the tapping. Managed to avoid the worst of the traffic on the way home anyway.

Started reading another novel today, Bone Crossed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 6

Settling into a routine. Was a bit tired after getting up at 5am to take Katie to the airport. Took Corin with me to UCLA, in part to check out the equipment and the process, in part to ensure I wouldn't have a problem with a solo drive.

Finished reading a second novel since starting the TMS program. I haven't read two full novels in a week in quite a while. If I finish third one in the near term, it will be by far the best reading performance I've had in a few years. Reading has been a personal barometer for several years now.

I noted the reading progress on the weekly depression inventory. Dr. Cook indicated I scored ~10% improvement from the initial inventory last Monday through today's survey. Although I experienced a dip over the weekend, I'm feeling better after today's treatment.

Went to The Hangover this evening with Corin. It was truly laugh out loud funny, in so many inappropriate ways. Laughter feels very good. I think I enjoyed the movie as much as anyone else in the theater.

Neuronetics has updated their list of TMS providers

the first weekend, part II

Sunday was pretty much a loss. Slept in, which was nice. Lunch with the family was nice, too, but failed to sit well, which pulled down the remainder of the day.

Monday early morning is shaping up better, though. Despite the 5am wake up to take Katie to the airport for her latest trip, I'm feeling a little tired, but not the listless lethargy so typical of my depression.

Have to do my homework, a take home mood survey, to be completed each weekend before starting the new week's treatments.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the first weekend

Slow day. California's June gloom outside today, kind of gray inside. Not as bad as my standard gray days have been (think the gray cardboard inside a cereal box), but not as positive and bright as the last few days had been. Probably some continued mood fallout from yesterday's incident.

Friday, June 5, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 5

Finished out the week. Hand twitching back in force, but managed to read 20+ pages of a novel. Some turmoil in the late afternoon pointed out that I'm getting better, but still get anxious given the proper stimulus. A nap helped to wash away the angst, leaving me in pretty good shape for the evening.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 4

Getting the routine down. Leave home 11:45, arrive at the Semel Institute 12:45, into the chair ~1pm, out of the chair just before 2.

Energy was really good this afternoon, even though traffic was lousy coming home. Cooked dinner ahead of the Lakers' game. Have rarely had the energy or initiative to make dinner for guests for a very long time.

Was asked this evening if this might be a placebo effect. I've been looking for sustainable hope (or delusion) for quite a while. My reality is that I've strung together more good days in a row this week than I can remember having in more than a year.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

TMS @ UCLA Day 3

Started a little earlier this afternoon. Little more hand twitching than yesterday. Getting more accustomed to the rat-a-tat-tat routine. Talked basketball with Don to pass the time.

Not experiencing too many hours in the day lately. Cutting down on naps. This afternoon's nap was more of a product of the solo commute through drizzle both ways than depression driven ennui. No naps required on days 1 or 2.

Reading concentration has been improving markedly for the last week or more.

TMS @ UCLA Day 2

Doc tweaked the field strength. Pretty much eliminated the hand/finger twitch.

45+ minutes is a long time to sit still and do nothing, waiting for the woodpecker's return. 10 Hz, in 4 sec bursts, then 35-40 sec of nothing.

The repeated tapping sensation feels like the kind of thing which could give one a headache. Fortunately, no headaches have been forthcoming, nor bruising or scalp sensitivity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Surprisingly inexpensive equipment

The spiffy dentist's chair and TMS hardware was purchased by the Friends of the Semel Institute, ~$56K. I was totally blown away. For research and/or therapeutic equipment, this is an incredibly reasonable price.

TMS @ UCLA Day 1

Always knew I was hard headed and had a thick skull. Never expected to have it techologically proven. Rather like having a hyperactive woodpecker with OCD tapping on my skull. Not too bad after adjusting positioning to avoid reverb in the eye and sinuses. Hand twitching was rather comic, but the doc thinks he can fix that tomorrow. Feeling optmistic and pretty good, overall. Placebo or synergy?