I've fallen out of the habit of journaling, and I've also been bad at talking about what's going on in my life. So, in an attempt to kill two avians with one projectile, I present to you an easily-digestible post custom-tailored and purpose-built to answer the question: "What's new, Des?"

  • Work gave me a nice title bump (to "Senior Manager") as part of my performance review, and forgot to tell me.
  • A couple months after my performance review, work also gave me more responsibility for technical (fun) stuff on top of all the managerial stuff I'm already doing.
  • I have an extremely rare degenerative eye disease.
  • A squirrel moved into my garage.

I promise I didn't make any of this up.


So let's get the hardest thing out of the way first—my optometrist is pretty sure I have PMD, or pellucid marginal degeneration [LINK WARNING: Pictures of strange-looking eyes]. The bad news is it's both rare and degenerative; not much is known about what causes it, how it progresses, or how frequently it occurs. It may or may not cause progressively more severe vision distortion as I get older, to the point that my vision becomes largely uncorrectable. The good (ish) news is my eyes are still in the early stages, and it may be treatable/stoppable, but the treatment is still experimental.

Those of you who have known me IRL for a while probably also know that I started wearing glasses a few months ago. I've had perfect vision for my entire life up until maybe the last year, when I started to notice, for lack of a better term, "lens flare" around bright lights at night. (It is definitely not a halo; it's an extremely irregular, offset, and stretched ellipse-like shape.)

So I went to an optometrist (which I had put off doing since, like, college), and she gave me glasses, which helped to bring everything into clearer focus but didn't do much for the "lens flare". After giving myself a few months to adjust, I went back in last weekend and we did some more tests (modern optometry technology is really f*ckin' cool, BTW).

It turns out my corneas (corneae?) are sagging.

For the first few days after I found out, I went through alternating waves of panic and depression. How the hell am I going to continue as a functioning, independent adult if I can't see? How do I get to work? How do I continue to write code, drive, or do any of the other things I love to do if one of my primary senses severely degrades or fails?

Honestly, I've been struggling with how to process the news. I wasn't even sure I wanted to share it at all outside of my poly- and bio-families; I don't really want pity and it wouldn't help, anyway. More appropriate would be a well-aimed kick in the pants when necessary, to keep me functioning like a normal human being. I'd also take ophthalmologist referrals, too, in the (perhaps-unlikely) event that you know any good corneal specialists in the Bay Area.

Anyway, in an attempt to lessen the panic and depression, even a little, I decided to research the shit out of PMD—if I can't think about anything else, I might as well think about it productively, right? Suffice to say I think the experimental treatment would be a good (and relatively safe) choice that would actually halt the progression, and pending further discussions with an actual ophthalmologist familiar with the procedure, that's probably the route I'll take. But, until everything is done and I know the outcome, it isn't going to stop the occasional bits of panic and depression from peeking through.

One other thing worth noting: I've been through this kind of scare before, and I adapted. For probably a good year or more, I was terrified I would have to find a way to stop using keyboards because they were slowly destroying my hands. But, thru lots of physical therapy and an actually-correct diagnosis (I had several over the course of maybe two years, ranging from ligament damage to localized arthritis to the actual diagnosis: trigger finger), I recovered probably 90-95% of my ability to type, and losing my hand function isn't something I worry about much anymore.

Medically, it's totally different of course—my hands are not my eyes. Also, I only just found out about the PMD recently, and I still have a lot of work to do (talking to an ophthalmologist, etc.) to learn about my specific case and come up with a treatment plan. But the experience with my hands taught me how to keep my head, focus on taking constructive steps to cure what ails me, and not let a little thing like degenerative eye disease interfere with my day-to-day life.

Especially since—for now—my eyes are still quite functional.


So, let's take a breath for a minute and talk about something banal, shall we?

I'm now a Senior Engineering Manager at work as of a couple months ago, which… yay, I guess? Except in a classic case of corporate dysfunction, they forgot to tell me. I only found out because I happened to look myself up in Outlook one day (I can't remember my desk phone number, ever), saw my new title, and went, "hmmm, that's weird…"

My boss was appropriately apologetic, and at the time, it didn't actually matter much since my responsibilities didn't change. It was a nice little ego bump, though.

Then, last week—the same week I found out about my eye condition—I also found out that I'm getting more responsibility shoveled onto my plate. Ordinarily I would complain strenuously—I have two teams, and 8 people, and that's more than one manager should have to take on, especially if they're also contributing technically.

However, I'm just getting more technical responsibility, and I can use that as an excuse to push some of the day-to-day project management stuff down to my folks. I've been wanting to do that anyway; I have too much on my plate and I've only very recently started to feel like I'm getting back up to speed with where I need to be.

So, hopefully work will get more enjoyable and interesting over the next little bit, and hopefully I'll get more opportunity to play around in the gray area covering "business requirements", "architecture", and "design". Developing stronger business and technical-strategy skills is never a bad thing, and I'm looking forward to it.


Alright, I can't put this off any longer. I'm sorry, Dreamwidth, but there's one more shitty thing we need to talk about: squirrels.

They shit everywhere.

Not only do they shit everywhere, they also tear up drywall, insulation, and wiring. Sometimes they chew through wiring just for the hell of it. I know this because one of them seems to have taken up residence in my garage, by coming down from the attic and punching a hole through the drywall. Hopefully that residence was merely temporary; I haven't seen any fresh movement of building materials in the last few days. Pest control is coming out soon, just to make sure.

But honestly, a squirrel? It couldn't have been mice, or rats, or termites, or other normal things that happen to normal people who own normal homes?

I know I'm weird, and weird shit happens to me, but a motherf*cking squirrel?

Come on.

— Des

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Des

August 2018

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