This was originally a post on the “Geeks” mailing list, archived here.
Amy passed away suddenly in June of 2009, from complications caused partially by PCOS.
Warning: long sappy story ahead. Ignore if you’re more concerned about NFS packets or OpenGL acceleration.
Over the past week, I’ve fallen in love with my wife, for the second time.
I met Amy in February of 1998. We met on an IRC channel, and were also both members of a mailing list I ran at the time (SWGoths; a group that I am no longer associated with). Anyway, we ran into each other on IRC. I was a server operator at the time, and almost /killed (disconnected) her because I thought her nickname (TurtleX) was a bot (automation).
Luckily for me, I hesitated. She handed me a cookie. Things went downhill from there. (just kidding)
We’ve been together since 1998. For all of that time, we’ve basically been married in each other’s eyes, but we only officially did all the paperwork and exchanged rings, etc, just a bit over a year ago (March 31st, 2001, in Chattanooga, TN). Only difference really is that we have rings now and if we ever get divorced, she gets half my shit.
Anyway.. For the past couple of years, behind the scenes, things ain’t been going so well in Bradfordland. We went from starcrossed lovers fucking like wild monkeys, to basically being roommates that happened to sleep in the same bed. People talk about the spark going out – well, this one was hit by a full load of halon. We fought. (about everything.. money, cars, stuf she wanted, stuff I wanted… everything). Nothing ever seemed to help. We were both cranky. As I said, basically we just shared a house.
In February 2001, things started to get better. I was diagnosed in late November 2000 with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which explained my LOUD (not just loud, but LOUD – the sleep study tech called it “Extreme”, and they see people snoring for a living) snoring, so bad that Amy had started to sleep in a separate room. It also explained my constant being exhausted – I would sleep 12 hours, but then get up and fall asleep in the shower, or while typing. Nothing more embarrasing than the head of your department at work waking you up because your head is on your keyboard and its beeping and everyone around you is looking into your cube…
Anyway.. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. They called it “severe”. Normal diagnosis.. Sleep apnea is when you have 4 to 7 “events” (obstruction of breath, stopping of breath, etc) an hour. Insurance kicks in and pays for treatment at 47 events/hour. They “clocked” me at 112/hour. I was getting NO (none at all) REM sleep, and got down to 87% oxygen blood saturation (where normal is 98% or so). This had been going on as long as I could remember, but started getting extreme (the exhaustion) around 1998.
In February 2001, they finally got the insurance bit sorted out, and put me on a CPAP (constant positive air pressure) mask. This is basically a mask that I wear over my nose (or with two “nozzles” inserted directly into my nostrils, making a seal) that blows pressurized air (12cm) into my airway while I sleep at night, keeping it open and letting me breathe normally. Not only does this stop my snoring, but it lets me get full deep REM sleep, and get rest “like a normal person”. The first night i was on it, Amy came in to check on me three or four times, fearing that I was dead because she didnt hear ANYTHING – no snoring, etc, at all. Thats how different it was. I slept four hours that first night, and got up feeling like I was on crack and had drank a pot of espresso. Everything was bright and shiny again. I had energy. I could live life again.
I’ve been on CPAP since then. Minor annoyance at times, but we’ve gotten used to it, and its worth it. I dont care if I look like darth vader at night – I can sleep, and that makes it worth it. The reason I mention it is an example of how something very relatively simple can make a HUGE change in someone’s life.. Modern medical technology is a great thing. We’ll both tell you that – read on for the other side of the story.
On to Amy. Things were fine after we met.. for a while.. Then, she started to get cranky. Irritiable. Downright bitchy and mean occasionally. we’d have bad fights – but nothing that would make either one of us leave; we’re both too stubborn for that. We’d be screaming at each other, then ten minutes later, “hey, lets go for ice cream… ” “okay!” However, despite the good times, we had just as many bad times.. caused by a lot of things, from my bad habit of spending too much time on the computer, to being cranky in the mornings, to her being self-centered and bossy and demanding. We got married a year ago, after I got on the CPAP, but that didnt solve things – we still fought, but not as often.. discontent was still present. We got married because we both love each other – we both knew SOMETHING was wrong, but didnt know what it was or how to go about fixing it. We both believed that whatever it was, we could find it and fix it.
The discontent wasnt restricted to here at home – it flowed out onto the mailing lists (or whatever/whoever was the nearest target) as well. You’ve seen it – one minute Amy would be fine, and the next minute she’d be mean, viciously ripping someone to shreds over a tiny insignificant detail. I chalked it up to “amy just being amy”, she would be like “hey, I’m honest, fucking deal with it, I’m not going to change.”
Two months ago, however, things started to explain themselves. Amy went to a doctor for strep throat. The nurse who saw her took a look at her and asked if Amy had ever heard of or been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). She said no, she’d never heard of it, and never been looked at for it. An appointment was made with a local endocrinologist to have some exams and tests done.
(in short, they sucked, so she went to a different doctor..)
On May 5th, the second set of test results came back from the labs. More or less, they ruled out everything severe, and confirmed what the adult nurse had suspected from ten seconds of looking at her and one line on a medical chart – Amy had PCOS.
PCOS is more or less an endocrine disorder. She doesent get enough estrogen (female hormones) in her system. Therefore, the testosterone that *is* in her system (yes, women have it too, just not as much as men) dominated her personality. Instead of being nice and sweet and feminine, she was a raging pissed-off bitch. Without the estrogen to “balance” things out, she was basically having permanent eternal PMS. This went on for *decades* before a kind nurse saw something and made a suggestion. That kind suggestion ended up changing her life – and mine too – for the better.
The endocrinologist put her on a standard normal cycle of birth control pills, which has balanced out and returned her hormone levels to “normal”.
Within 48 hours of her getting on these pills, it was amazing. She was COMPLETELY different. I even asked her once, “Okay, who are you, and what have you done with my wife?” She was SO nice, SO different from before, that I got *paranoid*. I was convinced that she was just being nice to me for some other reaosn, that she wanted something or was hiding something. Good to say,I was totally wrong. The Amy that I remembered, that I had originally fallen in love with four years ago, was back. She’s nice. She’s kind. She greets me at the door after work with a hug and a Coke with ice. Heck, she doesent even yell at the pets anymore! She says that now its *hard* to get mad – when before, something even minorly out of whack would cause her to completely fly off the handle without reason and be a raging bitch. From talking about things, apparently when we first fell in love, the endorphins served the same function as estrogen – and “masked off” the anger and temper she had.. so when we “settled down”, that went away, and she was no longer “balanced”…. Mentally, figuratively, physically, everything.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve fallen in love with my wife all over again. Its like a different world – she’s less grouchy; in return I’m less grouchy. We get along better. We TALK A HELL OF A LOT MORE. LOTS more. We laugh. We cuddle (yeah, like you wanted to know that). We go driving around just to explore. I teach her about cars (soon to be stick-shift driving lessons) and old 1970s computers. She teaches me about her favorite music.
Its an entirely new world. Its amazing. THE SUN IS SHINING AGAIN. I’ve fallen back in love with my wife. She’s fallen back in love with me. Things couldnt be much better at this point, I think.
I know in the past that Amy’s temper has caused some “dissention in the ranks” here on the geeks list (and rescue too, for that matter). People have unsubscribed, or been forcibly unsubscribed, because of her pure anger on what should be minor debates or fun discussions. I dont blame them – keep in mind that I had to LIVE with it from day to day, and not just in email. I had stuff thrown at me (fortunately, her aim sucks!) (had to replace a couple of remote controls, though..)
I know these are “my” lists. I know that I can do whatever I want with them. However, you guys (and gals) are a community. I value this community, because I dont have many friends – you people are my friends and family. I value your opinions and thoughts.
I’ve come to ask. Would anyone mind if Amy comes back on the geeks and/or rescue mailing lists? I miss her commentary, and female point of view on a lot of the things we talk about. I talk to her every day – but enjoyed her being on the lists as well. I promise you that her blinding furious anger is GONE now – she’s a completely different person (and will freely admit this to anyone who asks).
I’m asking as another list member, not as the guy who runs everything. I dont consider myself a dictator, or anything like that – I just happen to be the person whose machine everything is hosted from.
So, what do you say? Thoughts, comments, anything, appreciated. Please feel free to let me know, either here, or private email.
Thanks for listening to my huge long 160-line rant. Other than Amy, you people are some of my only friends.
(footnotes: apneanet.org and pcos.net, for more information on our conditions..)