Thursday, 11 January 2018

#fitAF, My fitness story.


This post might be boring to anyone who is not me.

The above is a picture of myself power-cleaning 42.5kg, I am mid-air. I am blurry because it is a fast movement.

I go to crossfit 5 or 6 times a week. I see my box-mates more than I do my family or non-crossfit friends. Hence it is quite a big deal in my life. So I am gonna write about it.

I am now coming up to 3 years since I joined the Holy Church of Crossfit, and I can say with confidence that it is the best thing I have done, fitness wise. It is not for everybody, but it is for me.

I was never a fit or sporty kid at school or even really uni. I had my greasy nose in a book most of the time. I could not jump high or run fast, which was a big deal back in the day. Yet I am willing to bet that many of my athletically talented primary school contemporaries are now sliding into a middle age spread, and can barely touch their toes. (Though I have stalked Narelle, my school arch-enemy, on Facebook. She is a personal trainer who says things like "dream believe achieve"....I can't even. Silly Mole.)

I started running a lot when I had a bout of depression in my late 20s. I was not particularly good or fast at that, but I worked my way up to a half-marathon. I was running to "lose weight". I didn't lose a lot.

I had a second bout of depression, then a divorce. I upped my game to a full London marathon (distance ran proportional to trauma - here is hoping I never wish to run an ultramarathon), but got injured after so stopped. I trained with a now defunct running group. I still catch up with the women who I met there. Fabulous women, about 6 of us!

About 4 years back, I started doing some boot camp stuff with a lady whose alias shall be J. A lady in her late 40s, she was clawing her way through the menopause, one knee-destroying, crop top wearing, laser skin rejuvenation marathon at a time. At the time I thought she knew her stuff. She had a garage gym set up. She would look us up and down after we came back from holidays to see whether we had gained weight. She did not believe in positive reinforcement, and didn't like it when we cheered each other through a workout. She screamed and yelled. I trained with her for about 18 months. All the while, I was coming to an increasingly firm conclusion that she was, in fact, a bit of a cow.

One day, I had a tough day at work, and was in the thick of writing up my PhD. I did not go right to the end of a stair run, and one of the other bitches girls who was there dobbed me in. J yelled at me to do it again. I said "No.".

I never went back after that.

I had been a bit curious to try Crossfit, but it looked a bit scary. The official intro video showed fit people doing scary things. I ramped up the courage to call the owner, to see if I could try, and to outline my concerns. I did a trial session and from then on, I was hooked.

Soon after I started, I did run for the kids, and sustained a nasty sprain to my ankle. That cooled things for a bit. Then I had the infamous pregnancy/miscarriage event of 2015. I didn't train that hard until I finished my PhD at the end of 2015/early 2016.

The main improvement I have made since doing crossfit is in my strength.

Optimized-strength-standards-1024x352

I am in or near the "Strong" category relative to my body weight for all the moves listed above, except that I cannot do an unassisted pull up.

There are things that I can do that I could never do before I started, or even a year in. For example, we did 100 sit-ups for time yesterday. I did that without taking any more than a 2 second break.

I have been introduced to the wonderful world of Olympic lifting. I still giggle when I ask coach to come and watch my snatch. I clean weights better than I clean plates. 

I am not very fast, but I can jog 5 kilometres when the fancy takes me. I might struggle with 10 but it would not take me too long to train to it.

As with most things, though, most of the limitation occurs in the mind. There are a few things that I have not made much progress on - pull ups, kick up to handstand, and box jumps being the main things.

I realise that the error that I make with these is that I expect improvements to be made in large chunks rather than in small increments. These are "can or can't" movements but there are levels in between. I need to train with that in mind. Thankfully, our coaches have designed the program that allows us to make continuous incremental improvements without having achieved the complete movement. The coaches also let us know we are improving. I nearly did a kick up to handstand today! Not long now.

The other error that I make is that I compare myself to others, and get discouraged when I see other (often younger, skinner athletes) people pulling ahead of me in a workout. Hence, I have taken to consciously blocking them out and focussing on my own game.

I also used to freak out and slow the hell down when I got uncomfortable. I learned to deal with discomfort and work to the edge of it.

These skills - chipping away at things, enjoying the process and the millimetre increments, focussing on my own game, and dealing with discomfort - have bled over into other areas of my life.

That, for me, is the most powerful thing.

Also, though I have a bit of a belly and am fatter than when I thought I was fat, I have far better body image. I cringe when I hear women telling other women about "fat burning" or "not getting too big". and things along those lines. Crossfit delights in strong women, who sweat and cuss and grunt and have muscles and hand calluses. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Triumph and Disaster. New Year Resolutions.

Happy new(ish) 2018, readers.

I've been meaning to write for a few days now. Touch base, check in.

I've had a good Exmas and New Years' period.

On Exmas day, despite the fact that a guest was heavily pregnant, I was near to my best self. I cooked a great meal and was a good hostess. I did not cry and only required one nap, and this was because I went out a bit hard on the campari spritzes, and followed it up by serving negronis. My pavlova was demolished. We had just enough food and not too many leftovers. I consider it a win.

We went to the Barossa Valley in between Exmas and New Year, for my fella's birthday. I got a taste of some Grange 2013 at Penfolds MacGill estate, at the bargain basement price of 50 bucks for a mouthful, with some other posh wine tastes thrown in. A bucket list thing ticked off.

NYE was spent at home with my fella and dog. We had a nice meal cooked at home, and some bubbly. As I slid between my clean sheets at 2230 hours I applauded my life choices - no jostling crowds or small talk with people I barely know. Sleep is good.

I have been working throughout the festive period, and generally keeping busy. With the break in IVF proceedings, I have managed to forget about it, which has done me the world of good, and turned what might have been a stressful time into quite an enjoyable one.

However, there is the small matter of the embryo in the freezer, which I am having deposited this month. It's like the screws have tightened and I am feeling stressed about it, again. My plan of psychological attack during the period will once again be "one day at a time".

Work wise, I have had a bit of unsettling news. I work in a few different locations, some job roles I like, one I don't. I have been looking to ditch the role I don't like, but just waiting for another job role to fill it. Gradually my role in another place has been expanding, under the supervision of a supportive boss who I admire. I had told him that I wanted to work more with him, and that I appreciated his mentorship.

Anyway, today I rolled up to do some work and researchy things. I went and said g'day to this boss's secretary. She looked upset, and asked me what scope I had to do further work. She then went on to explain that the boss was sick, the exact nature of the illness unclear, and he asked me to fill one of his roles while he was undergoing treatment which would take at least some months.

The potentially good opportunity for me to do some good work (and ditch what I don't want to do), and do my mentor proud, is wrapped up in the very shitty news that he is ill and may not even be around to mentor too long. I can't imagine what he must be going through.

I've learned that life does not often look like what we thought it would. The extension of that is that good opportunities, rather than being presented on a silver platter, are sometimes wrapped up in dirty newspaper.

I've also learned that being an adult is hard. The older we get, the more we hear about illnesses, divorces, loss. We are dodging bullets. We hope that one does not hit us, as we see people close to us fall. There is often very little sense to how and who the bullets hit. All we can do is live our best life.

With this in mind, I have come up with a set of NY resolutions that do not involve slimming. I wrote these a little while ago.

1. To (definitely) visit Wilson’s Prom and Far North Queensland. Maybe also Europe, Galapagos amd Costa Rica (depends...)
2. To draw a picture once per week, or write things.
3. To always have nicely groomed eyebrows
4. To see a fillum one a month, at a proper cinema
5. To give others more compliments and encourage them.
6. To give myself more compliments
7. To be patient with myself, practice things I am not good at or that are time consuming but important, and just plug away and not worry how long it’s taking. To be in love with the process rather than the outcome.
8. To wear more bright lipsticks
9. To eat and relish fruit and veg in season
10. To keep my hands well moisturised and free of too much callus (life of a crossfitter...)
11. To ensure my footwear mostly meets the brief of stylish but comfortable
12. To keep a list of things to do if I feel bored/stressed

13. To do 5 minutes of decluttering per day because it is legit good for the soul. 
14. To say yes to fun things.

Monday, 18 December 2017

A picnic. 2017 reflections 1.0

It's been a little while. Sometimes I go to write and then don't know what to say. A lot has been happening up here in this ol head of mine.

Since my ex-husband Ian's diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease, I have been in touch with him and his wife, H. I went and saw them in August. We all sat and talked for a couple of hours, until Ian's fatigue necessitated a nap.

I have a lot of time for H. She's a good woman.

Ian never had many friends, he was somebody who knew many but could talk with few. He was just very introverted. He and H did some specialty training together and they always got along well and talked often. There was nothing untoward going on between them, while we were married, but I always knew they connected well.

Back in the day, when I was all confused and considering ending my marriage, I did a little mental exercise. I wondered "If he repartners before me, how would I feel?". H's name came up in my head, immediately. I felt sick for about 10 minutes and then I decided that I could manage it.

Of course, when it did happen, a couple of months later, I felt sad, but I understood. I was upset and angry that we could never find that connection, that he could never show me the thought he seemed to be showing H, but the leaving was my decision.

When I saw them back in August, that understanding of how good they were together was reinforced. They loved quiet, and books (mainly science fiction). I felt sad for them. That they would not get the years together they deserved.

Fast forward to Nov, H invited me to Ian's 40th. We had a good chinwag on the phone, maybe about half an hour or more. Comparing mother in law stories. H telling me what was happening with Ian's brother. All was not well there. I was a bit scared that MIL and Ian's brother, who I have not seen in 6 years, would not want me there, but H assured me that Ian was very clear that he wanted me present. I was very honoured, feeling this was a testament to the years we loved each other. Anyway, brother has buggered off overseas to live with his new girlfriend, leaving his brother with MND and his mum undergoing treatment for cancer.

The party was yesterday, a potluck picnic, where we could all bring something to share (ideally gluten free). I was shitting bricks beforehand. I decided that I would make a pavlova to bring. Everybody loves home-made pav (cept maybe Ian).

Making the pav was very stressful. I was insanely worried I would bugger it up. It was not perfect in the end but I got there and bought it along. I bought it along dry, packing some cream, berries and chocolate to sprinkle over at the venue.

I got there. H came up to me and said "I haven't told L (ex-MIL) that you are coming". I grimaced. Shit. I gurded my loins and strutted to where the party-goers were assembled. I plopped my pav on the table. Also present were all of H's family, many from Israel and all celebrating Hannukah.

I looked to Ian. He had faded. His limb muscles were wasted, and his speech barely intelligible. He smiled and said hello. His eyes, always bright blue, had a new intensity to them. Perhaps it is the best way he can communicate now.

I walked over to L. She exclaimed "Cilla" in surprise, stood up, and gave me a hug. She was wearing a cam boot, having recently broken her foot. I asked her what she did to herself, then announced that I bought a pav.

That bit over, I walked around. H asked me how I would like to be introduced. I rolled my eyes and said "I'm the evil ex-wife". She laughed. I then introduced myself as Ian's wife v1.0. Ian's mum had made up a photo album of Ian's life. I was a little sad to see that no photos of our life together were present, but I got it.

Anyway, I chatted with some folk, but mainly kept to my fella. I was glad he was there.

The time came to sing happy birthday. Ian's mum made a short speech, then started crying. Ian and H and their 4 year old boy stood there smiling bravely. My heart broke at that point. My heart breaks typing this. I think it will take a long time until I can think about this without feeling sad.

I assembled the pav. It was consumed by all, and remarked upon. I had many compliments on it, including from H's mum. I suggested that a pav might be an appropriate Hannukah treat. She said yes. We will call it "Hannukova". I felt very happy and proud. The pav redeemed me in a way I cannot fully explain. I suppose I feel like I didn't belong there.

After the pav, I had a chat with L. She told me about her cancer treatment, that she would be moving to a suburb near me to be able to access. I gave her my mobile number and said that, if she wanted, we could go for a coffee. She said that she would like that. We certainly had our differences while Ian and I were married, but we loved each other, and I missed her for a long time after we split up.

My fella and I went and had a look at the sculptures in the park, then went and said our goodbyes. I had to take a nap after getting home. Napping seems to be the thing I do when I just can't handle things. Also I had hit the grog at a ladies night out the night before, so I suppose I had a bit of a delayed hangover.


As much as I dislike writing off whole years, this past year has had more than its share of challenges. That encounter I describe above is but one example of a sad/awkward/difficult encounter that I had to trudge through. I think I did that one quite well (because PAV). There were others that I struggled a bit harder with.

I have been for a few jobs this year, the most recent of which was a few weeks ago. I would like to change my job detail a bit. Alas, I have missed out on a few. It has added to the feeling of inadequacy, and also I have developed a "nobody likes me" complex. Today I went for feedback on this last interview. I did not go as shit as I thought, just the other candidate was able to be more specific about their experience, and I got some good tips.

In the face of quite a few challenges and disappointments recently, perhaps the most difficult thing has been balancing staying realistic with getting hard and negative. My ego has had a few beatings this year, and with it, my attitude has suffered, truth be told.

I was never one to read self-help books, but I have cracked open a few in the last few months. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson was great. I will read "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. I am in the middle of a fiction novel at the moment, but with that I am also reading "Chasing Excellence" by Ben Bergeron, who has coached a few Crossfit athletes who have won the games.

Ben Bergeron is quite matter-of-fact, preferring anecdotes and solid psychological theory to platitudes. He talks about embracing adversity, focussing on the process and the parts of the situation that are under ones control, and about doing the best one can at each juncture, rather than focussing on the outcome. I think this will be my manual for living, going forward. Much of my angst has come from comparing myself to how I think I should be going/living (musterbation), or comparing myself to others, rather than fully embracing and taking advantage of the day.

For the past few Christmases, I have thought "this time next year, I will be pregnant/with a baby". Hence, the last couple of Christmases have stung. Last year, we ran away. This year, I am facing up to it. I have bought a super-tacky electric Xmas candle, so bad its good. Also some glitter gingerbread earrings. My fella bought a proper pine Christmas tree today. Fake it till we make it. As well as tying up some things at work, I will focus on making a great lunch. Saturday will be my family, Sunday we will be hijacking another family's celebration, and Christmas lunch will be at ours, with some randoms and my mum. I am not dreading it. I am kind of looking forward to it.

I hope all that read this have a wonderful festive period, wherever they are.

Monday, 6 November 2017

A quiet one.

Today I was at work. As I was about to leave, a nurse tells me that a patient's daughter wants to speak to me. As I go to leave the office, my phone rings. It's the IVF doctor, with my PGS results. She recaps my figures. 12 eggs collected, 6 fertilised, 3 blastocyts. Of these 3, one is good for transfer, the other two are aneuploid. I discuss the timing of transfer, thank her and ring off. I take a breath and square my shoulders. I go directly to see the patient and his daughter. I assess the patient, come up with a diagnosis, reassure the patient and his daughter, ask them if they have any further questions. I wash my hands, leave the building and go down to my car. I was on autopilot but felt a strange sense of unease as I drove away. I had a think. Oh yes. That.

I had a big old cry in my car going down the road. I wiped my tears and snot on my sleeve.

One.

After all of the extra hormones and their side effects, the pain, the fatigue, one little embryo.

I have some papers to write, and had been planning on going and doing that, but that would involve going to see and be around people. Instead I went home. I had jam and butter on white bread toast for lunch, it seemed appropriate and comforting. I have learned to cut myself some slack when I need to and when it's possible.

I have spent the afternoon in my tracky daks and furry slippers, variably on my bed and the couch, alternately reading, researching fake tans, looking at clothes and surfing the socials. And thinking. Lots of thinking. I am nothing if not a thinker.

I never thought I would be a person who would consider surrogacy or egg donation. I am still not, but I am now beginning to understand where that drive comes from.

I think I am adult enough to appreciate that, for few people, life turns out the way they pictured it. Nevertheless, there are things I always saw myself doing. Having a baby, but all the other things that go with it. Taking maternity leave. Picking a school. Choosing my tribe of school mums. Dealing with midnight fevers and nightmares.

I am getting my head around the distinct possibility that motherhood may not happen for me. People may shout "oh no, don't worry, it will happen", but I am a realist (and also a medic). My very experienced initial fertility specialist said that 90% of my eggs are aneuploid. He is about bang on the money, so far. Another FS has told me that each cycle is a statistically independent event (ie that a failed cycle does not make it more likely to have a successful cycle the next time) and that euploidy (ie a set of 46 chromosomes in an embryo) is necessary but not sufficient to create a live birth.

Intellectually, I always understood these concepts, and set limits around the time and number of cycles of IVF I would do.

Emotionally, it's about the potential loss of what you thought your future might resemble. The maternity leave and the breastfeeding and the picking of the school. The normal things.

There is not a single point at which you have all the hope in the world and put the energy into IVF and have the good thoughts and good vibes, and then suddenly draw a line under it when you decide to discontinue IVF.

It's a parallel process of maintaining some hope, but also grieving and letting go. A process of getting knocked down but getting up and moving forward as best I can. This is emotionally tumultuous, even without the large doses of mind-addling hormones. It's strange and it's tiring.

Still, there are things to do and things to look forward to. I have been productive with my writing this last week. I wrote and presented three talks last week. I have crossfit WODs to smash. I have just started Yin Yoga; a great combination of mindfulness and stretching, my sole concession to anything "alternative". I have made appointments for waxing and fake tan ahead of my trip to Bali (if you can't reduce the chub, paint it brown, amirite?). The wild hormonal and emotional eating (I can't even tell you) has been reined in. I have been seeing my friends and (gasp) family.

As much as I hate the cliches, it's one step at a time, tomorrow is a new day, one foot in front of the other, fall down seven times and get up eight times. I could really do with less of the falling down at the moment, but that is par for this course, I've accepted that.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Good days.

Bloody hell that egg pick knocked me about. I was in quite a bit of discomfort. I took 2 days off work after, I've not taken 2 consecutive sick days in.... I can't even remember when. I was bloated, tired, and had pain in the belly with movement. Staring at the ceiling did my head in. 6 of my 12 eggs fertilised. I was angry - last time I got 7 eggs of which 5 fertilised - all those extra side effects for one more fertilised egg. However, I've forgotten about it for the time being.

However, today and yesterday have been good.

I have:
  • not required a daytime nap
  • not cried
  • not gotten angry and cursed things.
At all, yesterday and today. It is the first time in maybe a few weeks that it's been that way. I don't take it for granted. Perhaps it's because I have been able to get to Crossfit? Perhaps it's just the natural history of a foul mood.

I have been very hungry and eating ALL THE THINGS. I attribute this to the residual HCG from the trigger shot. Gotta take the good with the bad.

I have had the energy to do some research related tasks. Or perhaps it's the deadline looming on them.

I am going out with my fella for dinner tonight at a fancy city restaurant. The IVF is sometimes hard on relationships, and we are only human. It is important that we do nice things together.

Bit of a busy weekend this weekend, before a busy week.

15 days to Bali, too.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Twelve

I write today, Friends, from my Sick Couch.

I am groggy from the drugs and sore from the holes punched in my pelvis, but OK nonetheless.

I have just finished my second stim cycle of IVF, and it was hard going. I was on a higher dose of the follicle stimulating hormone, and it made me feel tired and seedy. I have been good in bed (as in, I have spent a lot of time there).

Last time I got seven eggs. This time, the specialist thought I might get ten eggs, but I woke up from the anaesthetic with the news that I got 12.

I cannot tell you how happy that made me. When things aren't going one's way, and one holds on to the little tiny things as a way of staying sane, it is wonderful to have something exceed your expectations.

There is a great deal of attrition involved in this process, and more eggs collected means a greater likelihood of having a genetically normal embryo, which will proceed to a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Each woman is different in IVF.

Mostly, IVF is an invisible process. Most women don't share. I have shared a bit, because I think it is important to.

Most of those women who are open about their IVF seem to be of the #IVFwarrior variety. They are the never say die, never give up hope variety.

I am not in that camp.

IVF is hard, physically, mentally and financially. The results are by no means guaranteed. I do not know how these women have the strength to keep going with many IVF cycles. I have heard it said that infertility and IVF is a series of continuous psychological adjustments to changing circumstances.

My approach is very much a "one day at a time" process. I have glimmers of hope, but most of my energy is spent on getting through as best I can. I dare not say "give up", but in the back of my mind is the "ok, what if it doesn't work, what then?" track, a track that I cannot fully engage with while I am doing the IVF.

For now, though, I can be happy that the stims are over, and I can look forward to Bali. It is the place that I wish to run to when things are overwhelming at home. Within the next couple of weeks I will find out what these eggies have done with themselves.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The pleasant day-to-day.

It's been a little while, folks. 

I've just come back from Sydney, where I was at a conference. I spent the weekend sitting beside my dear friend, SSG.

SSG and I see each other infrequently, less than once a year, but we are well across the broad details of each other's lives. We text or like each other's insta posts just about on the daily. Hence, catching up IRL (as opposed to URL) was companionable and comfortable, rather than the "squeee" and formalities and niceties of other infrequent catch-ups. I felt comfortable enough to launch straight into a rant about my hotel room; it had a pillar right in the middle and was the most unusably-configured hotel room I have ever stayed in.

Anyway, seeing SG felt like a continuation of the discussion and banter we have regularly. It is nice to regularly be reminded that people care, even if they are mainly only present in the text and tech world. Cheers, matey SSG! x

The conference and eats and drinks were orright too. There was not a great deal of time to do a great deal else, but SSG and I snuck out for a bite of lunch, which involved most of the major food groups (champagne, persian fairy floss, chippies, bread, dips and sausage rolls).

But yes, it's been a while since I last posted.

I was intellectually prepared for the IVF to fail, but the emotional fallout took me by surprise.

I sought some counselling with the IVF conglomerate, that was hard to come by and I had to talk to the patient complaints lady to make any headway on that (hint: the squeaky wheel gets the oil).

I have stayed afloat, kept doing all the things, but the veneer of normality has been thin. I have sometimes felt that, if I were to just let it (what ever "it" is) go, I could cry at any time. This has been getting better, though. I don't feel so fragile. Except for when I spend any time near a baby. Then I nearly lose my shit.

There have been many, many episodes of ugly crying. It's kind of nice, in a way. I have been letting myself feel, letting myself cry, more freely than I ever have in the past.

There were more ugly tears last week, after I went for a job and was unsuccessful. Why did I bother going for it? Because why the fuck not?

The sads can be a gnawing, heavy thing, or they can be a white hot overwhelming angry thing. The are not there all the time however. It is the time in between the sads that is keeping me together. I am taking comfort in the fact that, even though some fairly major things aren't going our way at the moment, the day to day, here and now, is actually reasonable.

I have been giving the phrase "tomorrow is another day" a good flogging, and have been putting on my big girl panties (so to speak) regularly.

I am living for crossfit, and training 5 or 6 times per week. Anyone who follows me on Insty will be abreast of my progress with handstands. I am working on my kipping (a gymnastics term). I am proud of the calluses that have formed on my hands. Last week, the workout was so hard that I literally cried afterwards (my state of mind was not the best going in, and I hadn't had a great night's sleep, by way of explanation).

I have made a friend, who is 22 years old. She is a curvy girl, but has lost quite a bit of weight and is very body confident. Like the most confident 22 year old I have come across, generally. She is my Workout Wifey. We generally pair up for workouts and have even been assigned a portmanteau by one of the coaches (ChrisCilla). She is a bit of an animal and is super fit. We laugh and joke and rattle off gangsta rap song lyrics at random. Hanging out with her is one of the highlights of my day. As the weather heats up she is leaning towards a bit of belly exposure in the active wear department and I am inspired to do the same #freethebelly.

The little things are intensified. For example, not having to brace myself against the cold when I walk outside is pleasant. The smell of flowers - pleasant. A good coffee - pleasant (FYI, McCafe coffee is really good, consistent). A funny meme - pleasant.

The time at home, waiting for my partner to return home of an evening, that can stretch and be uncomfortable. I have a bit of solitude in my life, and while that might in other instances be a good thing, I can go uncomfortably into my own thoughts. It is tempting to comfort eat and drink but I have (mostly) avoided doing that. I feel proud of myself for having done that.

I am thinking of other things, too. Like getting a new set of wheels. Maybe a Honda. It is about as prestige as I will go. I can't bring myself to pony up for a Beemer or Merc or Range Rover Evoque (sweet set of wheels, my friend has one). I am thinking of movies to see. Thinking of selling stuff on ebay. Thinking of movies I can go and see. We are thinking about looking at some display houses with view to a reno.

When one is going through something, it can be hard to get the head of steam to do the things that need it, like everything excluding work and eating and personal hygiene tasks. I am chipping away towards that head of steam.

A month ago, the thought of doing another round of IVF was obscene, I could not face it. While I am definitely not thrilled about going there again, at higher dose of hormones, I can actually bring myself to do it.

It's hard to get my hopes up at all, or indeed feel anything but "meh" about it. My technique is mainly just distraction. Enjoying the pleasant enough day to day, and holding on to the normal moments.