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Courtney

Finally Some Good News!

This blog has been slightly depressing ever since I got diagnosed with lupus three years ago. So it’s cool to write this post with something positive!

The last time I wrote back in April, it was to say that my rheumatologist wanted me to increase my medication again. I didn’t, but I was discouraged by my lack of improvement. Life went on, though, and nothing got worse. I definitely take care of myself better now than I used to before I got diagnosed, so I just continued on as normal.

I’ve seen my doctor twice more since my last blog post. The first time we left everything the same again. But then I got a surprise the second time: she suggested that I try to get off the immunosuppressant. (insert shocked smiley here)

It was really nice that she did this because I had actually been prepared to ask her if I could try to get off it against her wishes. So when she made the suggestion herself, my day got so much easier and so much better! I was all smiles that day.

I got off the medication completely after Twitchcon in October, which was two months ago. And I’m feeling great! I’ve had absolutely zero problems since then, not even a hint of joint pain. In fact, my joints bothered me more often when I was on the medication compared to now that I’m off. I’m sure that’s a coincidence, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.

I can’t describe how much happier I am now that I’m not taking that terrible drug. So much of the pain I had from the lupus diagnosis was psychological, which can sometimes be worse than physical pain. I’m so grateful that I was able to get off it and that things are going very well since.

I’m one of those people who tends to blog less often when things are going well, hence my lack of posts since April. But when one of my lovely Twitch subscribers posted in my forum thread (https://www.stacknfade.com/forum/topic/twitch-courtiebee-hang-out-thread/page/16/#post-25828) with a link to an article about lupus and diet, I thought I should probably post an update.

Thanks so much for reading! See you on Twitch I hope 😉

Tale of a Tired Pill Popper

I went to the rheumatologist today, so I figured it’s time for a long overdue update on my health. Overall I’ve been feeling really good. Pretty much ever since I got off prednisone, I’ve felt well enough to do pretty much anything I want on a daily basis.

We had some tentative travel plans for this year, but there was one thing stopping me: I wanted to reduce the amount of medication I was on. My body is a lot more vulnerable while tapering medication, which makes it a poor idea to travel while attempting to do so. So I had to choose: travel or taper. I chose taper.

In case you’re wondering why I want to reduce my medication so badly, it’s because my medication has been proven to increase the risk of cancer. When your drugs comes with a cancer warning, they’re unsurprisingly less fun to take.

I try not to think about what I’m ingesting when I pop the pills. If I think about it, I feel really anxious and stressed out. As I’ve said many times in this blog in the past, I’ve always been very anti-meds. It makes me feel sick to think about all the drugs I take on a daily basis. My subconcious agrees with me – recently I had a dream where I was taking a bunch of pills, but I couldn’t manage to swallow them. That’s some deep shit right there.

Anyway, I started tapering during the second half of last year. Basically I reduce the dosage of one of my meds by 25 mg every 3 months or so. I started at 100 mg of the stuff last year and now I’m down to 25. My most recent taper was a couple weeks ago.

The interesting thing about these meds is that you can’t see the affects of reduction right away. Most lupus patients are actually able to not take them at all for two weeks before they see any negative affects. Sometimes it takes months for the negative affects to take place. This is why I have to wait 3 months in between tapers. If my doctor had it her way, I would be waiting 6 months in between tapers. But she knows I’m really impatient.

Today she told me that she thought I should go back up to 50 mg. The reason for this is that I’ve recently developed these strange lesions on my fingers. They’re small and red and look like bug bites, but they’re painful to the touch rather than itchy. Neither of us knows what they are, but they’re clear signs of inflammation. She wanted me to increase my meds back to what they were before they developed.

I told her I really didn’t want to do that. We don’t know for sure that these things are due to lupus, and we don’t know that increasing the meds will cause them to go away.

In the end, I got my way and she told me to keep an eye on the lesions. She did caution me, though, that I had to take this seriously. She had never told me this before, but she told me that she has another patient with CNS lupus and that person never recovered from their initial flare up. They are slower in the mind now and just aren’t the way they used to me. She said that I was able to get back to my normal self last time, but if I flare again, will I bounce back again? She’s not sure.

Talk about a damper on my day. I have been feeling like shit about the convo every since it happened. It’s been a while since I felt this down about lupus. Sometimes I get a little sad that I have to deal with it, but I usually get over it pretty quickly because my life is still pretty sweet. Today is a little harder.

It tilts me that I have to poison myself to have a life now. That I’m taking away from my future self so that I can enjoy the present. Good luck future me, I’m sorry I’m giving you cancer. But at least I am alive now. Yay?

Anyway, this is a little bit if a vent. Sorry for the rant. I know I’ll be okay no matter what happens, and that as long as I keep a close eye on my joints, everything will be fine. It’s just been a shitty day.

For a more uplifting version of Courtney, check out my latest vlog. I posted it this past weekend on YouTube if you missed it :)

Projects everywhere! Life is busy and awesome!

It’s been a while! I’ve been so busy with other things lately and, as a result my blog here has been sooo neglected. But SO much is happening right now. It’s so exciting!!!

The biggest thing I did recently was leave the $200 hyper heads-up division this past month. This was an extremely difficult decision for me and one that took me months to make.

I decided to leave mostly because of my Twitch stream. It’s not easy to stream heads-up because of the waiting times in between games (have to sit in lobbies and wait for people to sit). It’s also made more difficult by the fact that triers can sit me at any time while I’m in the lobbies. I like playing regs, but I don’t wish to play them live on stream. Not only is it ten times more difficult to play poker while streaming, I also don’t want the general public to know all my reg ranges.

For these reasons, I decided to leave. It was a very sad day for me, to be completely honest. I worked on my hyper HU game A LOT over the past year, and I had gotten infinitely better as a result. It was just time, though. I have new goals, and heads-up just wasn’t fitting in.

Most of the time I spend playing poker these days is on stream. I’m really loving Twitch! It’s fun to interact with people and it really motivates me to play longer hours. It is distracting and therefore it forces me to play around 50% of the tables I would normally play, but I really think it is worth it because I enjoy poker so much more this way. If you want to watch me play, you can find me at twitch.tv/courtiebee. I stream every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as some Sundays.

courtiebee twitch

I will say that streaming live is a lot harder than I thought it would be. The number of mistakes I’ve made while live on Twitch is actually quite staggering, haha. And people are often VERY quick to jump on mistakes. For example, the other day I accidentally folded a straight flush draw to a flop jam. I got absolutely BERATED by one guy in chat for doing this. He told me couldn’t understand how I was ever in the $200 division and he couldn’t understand how I could possibly be a pro.

There’s a lot of reasons for making mistakes on stream. The main reason is that I am simply more distracted and much more likely to make careless mistakes. I’ve checked back straights on the river due to being distracted and not realizing I had the nuts. I’ve incorrectly said my opponent donk bet when he was, in fact, in position. In the case of the straight flush draw, I didn’t realize he had a straight draw and completely neglected to see half my outs.

Sometimes the mistakes are inexplicable. I’ll be chatting away, see my hand, know EXACTLY what I have, but still do something stupid. And then I’ll think about it later and say, wtf, why did I do that? I’ll also just simply run out of time to make decisions because I’m spending too much time talking. I’ve timed out of huge pocket pairs and top pair situations too many times to count.

The good thing is that my mistakes are getting fewer and that streaming is getting easier. Like all things that require practice, I know it’s just going to take time. The experienced Twitch streamers can all play tons of tables and chat with their viewers like it’s walk in the park. I hope that soon I will be there too!

I’ve been playing mostly spin & go’s on stream, although lately I’ve also been playing MTTs. I have work to do in both formats, since both games are slightly different from HU SnGs. Like streaming, slowly but surely I’ll get better!

Life is so busy because my husband and I also launched a DFS website! It’s called Stack & Fade and it’s all about news and community. We have a daily fantasy sports forum for discussions and we’re really hoping to build the best DFS community around! If you have any interest in daily fantasy sports or you want to learn about it, please visit the site and have a look.

I’m definitely going to start updating this blog on a more regular basis. I have a lot of stuff to do, including setting up more social media and my YouTube. But it’s all coming. I’m so excited!

P.S. I feel so much better this year. Infinitely better. I think I’m overdoing projects slightly because I feel like I have to make up for lost time. But that’s the thing: I don’t want to waste this time that I have feeling good. I’ve learned that life is precious, gotta gogogo while you can.

twitching it up

I first heard about Twitch thanks to the fact I follow a couple Magic: the Gathering players on Twitter. I’d never really watched it, but I knew they streamed, and I wondered whether it would be a good idea for me to stream Magic. I’m not very good at Magic, though, so I gave up on that idea and forgot about it.

Poker then started to get pretty popular on Twitch, so I started paying more attention. My friend Bryan started to stream, and I really enjoyed watching him play poker and interact with his viewers. A different friend suggested that I stream, too, so I decided to give it a try.

I’ve done two short test streams and one 2 hr stream so far. I didn’t think streaming would be easy, but it’s definitely harder than I thought it would be! Playing poker and talking and reading chat all at the same time has definitely been a challenge. It’s been pretty fun, though, so I’ll probably keep at it for a bit more and hopefully it will get easier 😉

My stream can be found at twitch.tv/courtiebee if you are interested in watching. I currently play up to $200 hyper HUs and $60 spins on stream. Action has been pretty terrible lately so I haven’t been playing as much HU as I would like to, but I guess that’s just to be expected during the summer.

I haven’t quite decided on my streaming schedule yet, so it’s best to just following my Twitter to find out when I’m streaming.

Oh and if you decide to watch, be nice. I’m a huge Twitch noob 😛 And say hi!

some boring update

My trip to the rheumatologist last month was uneventful. My medication stayed the same because I’m not considered stable until I’ve been off prednisone for 6 months, and my doctor wanted to keep things the same since I’m doing relatively fine.

I’ve felt pretty awful the last couple weeks, though, which sucks. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been so tired lately. It sucks because I’ve really been enjoying playing poker these days, especially some of the $200 HU reg battles. I’ve been working on my game a fair amount lately, and I’m eager to try some stuff out. I can’t really do this when I’m not feeling well, though, since it’s basically just lighting money on fire when edges are so small.

I’ve been keeping myself busy doing other somewhat productive things. My husband is starting a website, so I’ve been editing a bit for him when I’m too tired to do anything poker related. Being an editor is pretty mindless, I can do it half asleep anytime.

I don’t mind the days when lupus makes me tired as long as I don’t lose my motivation. Days when I lack motivation are just the worst, though. Those are days when I know I’m not myself because when I’m feeling like myself, I NEVER lack for motivation. When I’m myself, I want to do everything.

I’M ALIVE

Well I did it again, I took forever to update. Thanks to everyone that’s sent emails or messages elsewhere asking how I’m doing. It means a lot to know that people care!

If you kept up with my blog last year, you’ll know that I was really scared of getting off prednisone because of the withdrawal and the fact that some people relapse when doing it. I’m so happy to report that I got off it at the start of this year without complications 😀 I felt terrible and had withdrawal symptoms for all of January and much of February, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been and now those problems are all but gone. Mere words cannot describe how relieved I am to be off it. It’s such a dangerous drug.

I’m still on a bunch of medication, but getting off prednisone has been a huge improvement. I still have days where I feel like crap more often than I’d like, but the number of these days is less now. My good days are also much higher quality than they were last year. I feel less foggy, less exhausted, and a lot more sharp. Most importantly, I feel like myself again.

Getting off prednisone has also helped me to LOOK like myself again. A common side effect of prednisone is moon face, where a person’s face swells up and appears fatter than it was before the medication. I’m pretty thin, so it was easy for me to notice when my face bloated. I will admit that some of it was in my head. I knew my face was different, and my mind made me think that my face was a lot fatter than it actually was. But there was still a noticeable difference.

Last year I didn’t talk about how my appearance made me feel. I think I chose to not talk about it because it seemed so superficial and shallow to talk about when I had other pressing problems like liver toxicity and hallucinations. But honestly, it was really hard. My hair was falling out, I had a fat face, and I felt so ugly. It was just another thing to accept on top of everything else, and it sucked. I’m glad those times are over and I’m back to looking normal again.

Despite how terrible 2014 was, there are still some good things to take away. Overall I think I’m most proud of how I improved as a poker player. I didn’t have a lot of time and energy, but the time I had I spent studying poker and improving my game. As a result, I am a much better player than I was before I got lupus, and it’s not even close.

I wrote a lot of posts about running bad last year, and it’s because I did. I ran below expectation and was down for the year every month until November. I’m not gonna lie, it was hard. I was miserable, discouraged and tilted pretty much the entire year. My mental game became so bad that even when I was winning in December, every session I was utterly convinced that I was losing money. When I was feeling unreasonable, I didn’t care that I was going through standard variance and that the reason it lasted so long was because of my lack of volume. All I could think was that I had lost all year and that it was never going to end and HOW COULD I RUN SO BAD?

Obviously the bad run did end. Like I said, I finally got on the positive side of the coin late in the year and ended 2014 with a profit. I finished the year a ton under EV, however. In total I ran over 100 average buy-ins below expectation, which equated to >$40/hour below EV. I will say that one good thing about running poorly is that it forces you to improve your game. Maybe I would be a lot worse at poker today if I had run hot last year.

Another positive of last year was my husband. My husband stuck by me through everything, no matter how depressed, bitchy, mean, selfish, or hopeless I got. I feel so lucky to have him. If I could, I would wish for everyone diagnosed with a chronic and life changing disease to have someone in their life as wonderful as he is.

As for this year, I’m pretty optimistic about it. I’ve been able to play a bit despite my drug tapering, and so far it’s been not good but also not bad. I’ve been reviewing on a regular basis, something I plan on doing all year to ensure I keep improving as much as possible. When I feel well, I intend to play as much as I can. Online poker isn’t as good as it used to be, but there’s still money to be made if you have the skill and the motivation.

Of course, my health is my first priority. I have to take really good care of myself to ensure that I don’t flare up and get forced back on prednisone again. Later on this month my doctor plans to reduce a couple of my drug dosages a bit, too, since the meds are carcinogens and it’s ideal to be on as small a dose possible. I’m a bit worried about it, but hopefully nothing too terrible happens. I expect to feel bad for a short time while my body adjusts, but in the end I should be able to handle it and feel decent again sooner than later. I hope.

more insomnia, sigh

Haven’t really played poker in a while; been having trouble sleeping again and this time there’s no drug to blame it on. I think it’s been 4 or 5 nights straight that I’ve woken up 5+ times during the night. I’m really confused about why this is happening so much and I wish it would go away because I want to play poker and feel normal during the day again.

Getting proper sunlight during the day and making sure I exercise hasn’t helped solve it, yet. I’ve been trying to wind down properly every evening and avoid computer screens/TV/etc before bed, which usually helps but hasn’t done the trick this time around.

I played three hours of poker today (first poker this week), but I feel far too sleepy to get the other 3 hours done right now.

Hopefully I sleep properly tonight… keep saying this every day. For real this time? Please?

Canada rules, etc etc

Online poker went through some huge changes since I last wrote. The end result is that Americans can’t play online poker on Full Tilt and PokerStars anymore.

Not much has changed for me except that I have stopped playing on Full Tilt for the time being. I intend on waiting until they have paid all their US customers the balances in their accounts. If their business is still running happily after that, I will go back. Until then, I am erring on the side of not trusting them.

I’ve been playing turbo 180s to compensate for the lack of Full Tilt tourneys. It’s slow going for me at the start of my session without Full Tilt tourneys, but usually I have a lot to play a couple hours in. It DOES suck when I run bad and I’m 3-tabling at like 10 am, though. I admit that I kinda miss Full Tilt. The other problem is that I only seem to win on FTP and I always lose on PS, so maybe this is a bad choice…

/boring post. Another reason I haven’t been posting lately is that I’ve been blogging for PokerListings.com in their guest blog. I’ll post a link to my posts next time I write. Until then, GLGL!

Reducing the average field size

Poker has been tough for me this past week. It’s been normal where wins/losses are concerned (actually quite good considering I’m only down a few hundred dollars), but it’s been difficult mentally. I’ve been trying to play smaller field sizes lately in an attempt to reduce variance and go deep more often. While it seemed to work since I did go deep in the same $22 big antes tournament two days in a row, I unfortunately took 10th and 11th. I can’t describe to you how insanely tilting that was!

Thursday and Friday were really bad for me emotionally. I really wish I could just bubble those final tables and not care. I hate how a day of tournament fail can just build up and cause me to get so pissed off during a session. I need to make myself a large neon sign that says, “This is how tournament poker is, get the F over it already!”

Things have gone really badly for Dave the last few months, which has really hurt the bankroll. Limiting our field sizes is really just risk management to protect our bankroll as much as possible while he works to get back on track. We’ve been starting at 8 am this past week, which has allowed us to play some guaranteed prize pools with smaller fields. And then capped tournaments have been a priority too. I really like the big ante tournaments (even though apparently I can’t final table them no matter how hard I try).

Tomorrow is Sunday which is the attempt-to-bink-a-huge-score day. I think I’m still going to try to play as many capped fields as possible, though. Variance is really scary to me at the moment.

I am greedy because I refused to chop 13-handed in a live tournament

I didn’t feel like playing real poker on Saturday, so I went and played a $165 liveament instead. It was pretty convenient because microstakes live tournaments are so easy and then I could also feel like I was “working” at the same time 😛 Yay for being lazy.

I think ~80 people played. The structure was, of course, really fast with shallow stacks. When we were down to 13 players, people started talking about a chop. I thought to myself, WTF seriously? LOL?!

The tournament was supposed to pay 8 players. People got really excited at the thought of making $1k via a 13-way chop. Apparently it was worth 4th place money and EVERYONE thought it was a good idea except me. I probably would have done it if I had <5bb in my stack, but at this point I had 20bb (which was slightly above average).

So obviously I was like, WTF NO! And obviously people were like wtf, that bitch! This old asian guy came up to me and asked, “Why are you so greedy?!”

They all asked me again once it got 12-handed. I told them I’d do a deal if they gave me $2k, but they wouldn’t agree to it, haha.

Once it got down to 11 players, another ridiculous request came up: could we combine both tables to one so that we could have an 11-handed final table? LOL WAT?? Once again I was the only one to say no to this, and people just could not understand why. People kept asking me, “Isn’t it better for you if we combine the tables? Do you want to get eaten up by the blinds?” Wowwwwww.

The short-handed table was AWESOME for me, btw! I got so many walks and I don’t think I got 3-bet once, woohoo!

Anyway, I lost a flip at the final table, stayed alive by winning two 70/30s (while behind), and then busted when I couldn’t win a third 70/30 (while behind). 5th place, GG.

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