Bad Medicine

It’s been an interesting month.

My provider has tried to get me back on medications, because without them, my anxiety and insomnia are out of control. One medicine caused severe headaches, the next one made me so restless that I could not stop moving my hands. Then I was having difficulty swallowing. The third one isn’t having any ill effects so far. But it is not helping either, yet.

So I am forced to revisit the fact that without medications, my conditions are disabling. I don’t know how I got through 31 years without them. I know it’s hard for those who have never suffered from a mental disorder to understand.

And trust me, I’ve tried diet and exercise. Though healthy eating and physical activity can help, they are not a cure. The “natural” approach does not alter my brain chemistry enough to truly help. In some cases, exercise has exacerbated my conditions, leading to mania. So though I appreciate those who mean well by suggesting such things, you have no idea what this level of suffering is like.

My thoughts race. I cannot sleep more than three or four hours a night, which might be just enough to keep me on this side of sanity. I have panic attacks that can last more than two hours. When the negative thoughts start, I continually beat myself up. I chide myself for every naive mistake I ever made, even if these mistakes happened years ago. “I am a bad person” becomes my mantra. Anxiety makes everyday activities, such as driving, near impossible.

And why is it important that I share this information? Because no matter how I try to explain it, some people have no empathy. They don’t recognize my disabilities as valid because they are invisible. They insist on stigmatizing the mentally ill, or worse, they don’t believe us.

I am reaching out to counselors so that I can better learn how to control my negative thoughts. But with OCD, my brain naturally gravitates to dark places.

I am hoping this medication helps. It is a blessing to have insurance, and options. Though those options are limited by who will take my insurance.

Update: the new medicine I was hopeful about has caused severe vision problems. I think I had this happen once before many years ago. Thank goodness for talk to text dictation, otherwise this blog post would never be finished. I apologize for any typos. I have to squint to read anything. I am also very light sensitive and cannot drive.my provider wisely suggested that I keep a medicine journal to keep track of the wacky side effects that I get.

So I am back to square one and back to my old medication‘s. They did make me feel extremely fatigued but I guess that’s some thing I will just have to deal with. I was even able to tolerate a cup of coffee without having a panic attack this morning, so that is a vast improvement.

I have an essay coming out in an anthology in June. I have some promotional materials that I am supposed to be sharing, however, I cannot see to properly share them at the moment. When I am better able to read and write I will share more information.

Also on the horizon is a genetic test for medication compatibility. I feel like I’ve needed one for quite some time so I am excited about this. I just don’t seem to tolerate many medication’s very well, which is a shame, because I clearly need them.

And with that, I am going to leave you with some old-school Bon Jovi. Hope you are all having a good week. I am just hoping I can see by next week, so that I can drive myself to my appointment.s.

In a dark place

All right, boys and girls. Everything in this blog post is going to be talk to text. This Ohta be fun. So, the third time I called the neurologist office, they informed me that my referral was declined. The reason why is because that specialist does not treat people with my condition. You would think that the ophthalmologist office would have figured that out before referring me, but no.

I heard from my physicians office in the last hour. They say there are only two or three specialists that deal with the eye and the brain in the area. I am hopeful that at least one of them treats photophobia. The last ophthalmologist visit I had, the ophthalmologist said we could just hope this went away as mysteriously as it occurred. That is not very encouraging to me.

I am concerned that I have seen six doctors in the course of the last month for this condition, and no one has no idea what to do about it. They don’t even know what specialist to refer me to. Their only plausible explanation was that it was caused by a medication side effect, but I have gone off all my meds including my antihistamines at one point, and nothing has helped.

And now the medical bills are starting to come in. I am hopeful that my secondary insurance will cover some of the large cost that they completely useless ER visit incurred. If not, I may soon be forced to file for medical bankruptcy or the like. So I’m hopeful that at least some of it will get covered. But it’s not fun to be in a dark place, literally and figuratively.

If anyone knows anything about photophobia, send the information my way. I may have to have somebody else read it, but at least it would be a start. In the meantime, I am going to try to find some fun things to do they don’t involved having to use my eyes. Thank you for letting me vent.

The Twitching Hour

I tried to dictate this blog without looking at it. Because I twitch and drool every time I look at any sort of light. Talk to text doesn’t work well. So here goes nothing.

The trouble, as I remember it, began on April 20. I was having light sensitivity while driving to a clinic appointment. I had recently started a new psychiatric medication. Three days later, I started another.The light sensitivity only got worse, even though I stopped the medication they thought was causing the problem.

Since then, I have returned to my trusted medications. The ones I’ve never had a problem with before. My vision continues to deteriorate, even though I am now going off of those meditations again.

And I am told the only thing to do at this point is to go off all my psychiatric medication again, which is debilitating. I cannot afford another nervous breakdown . They can take years to recover from, and I don’t have an extra two to three years on my hands.

The blurred vision and light sensitivity were disconcerting, but when I started drooling, I suspected something neurological was going on. I called urgent care and they recommended that I go to the ER. After a lot of scary tests, they determined that I was not having a stroke. I was referred to the ophthalmologist to see if he could help me.

No retinal detachment or pressure in my eyes. Which is good, but it’s also not an answer. I was given steroid eye drops. The symptoms got better for a bit last night (day four of treatment), so I am somewhat hopeful.

I twitch for an hour or two every night, even though I’ve reduced the medications. One would think that tapering off would make things better, not worse. I’m not a professional, but I don’t see the harm in putting me on a waitlist at least for a neurologist. I hear it can take months.

My doctor, however, prefers to treat me like I’m a lunatic. She told me I needed to learn to “take a chill pill.” Lady, if your vision was blurred, you couldn’t look at any source of light, and you started drooling at random, you would be concerned, too. She also suggested I take a bath in a dark room. Well, since I have trouble reading, writing, watching television, and driving, I’m kind of limited as far as other activities are concerned. So kudos to her for being highly insensitive at best, and completely useless to diagnose my condition at worst. She’s almost as useful as the gentleman who told me to “be in nature” to cure my psychiatric conditions. Uh-huh.

And I love my med manager, but the last time I went off all my meds, I had panic attacks for hours at a time. Being off medication renders me non-functional as well. So I have two choices. Blind as a bat, or bats*** crazy.

Speaking of bats, my current theory is that I was bitten by a vampire and didn’t know it. The aversion to sunlight makes sense. The drool must be blood lust.

In the meantime, my cat sitting gig and in-person doctor visits have been put on hold. I can’t easily apply for new jobs. I’m ok with help from family and money in savings for now. But this is beyond frustrating.

My med manager is doing a DNA test for med compatibility. That is, as soon as I can get a ride to her office. I think I’m done for now. This hurts too much.

Manic Panic

I’m in panic mode because my part-time job has become so chaotic. I’m not allowed to share much detail, but the environment is changing in ways I never imagined. I am being forced to alter my routine, which is difficult for me as someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I’m like a cat. People start moving furniture, and I get nervous.

The good news is I am stepping out of my comfort zone creatively. The bad news is I’m flubbing at ways to make a decent side income in the event I can no longer work at my job. I’m failing tests that should be easy. Everything is sending me into a tailspin.

What I could use is a break. I have debated using FMLA, but my job is temporary and I don’t know how that works. I worry about yet another gap in my resume. I want to go to school so that I might obtain training to work from home. But the approval process for funding may take months.

My periods of fatigue are not helping matters. I am on a wait list for a rheumatology clinic. I am looking into other medications that may not impair my cognitive ability and dexterity. I have a medication that is supposed to help, but I don’t like having to use it.

I have reached out to my physician, and I see the medication manager mid-week. My at-home blood pressure cuff is reading 145/89. It’s been high most of this year. I know I need to exercise and take better care of myself. That will help. But a lot of it has just been the stress of trying to maintain a job, care for my son, and somehow prevent my own mental maladies from taking over during this prolonged pandemic.

Having to work on-site with an underlying health condition has not helped matters. I am constantly afraid of contracting the virus. I sanitize or wash my hands before or after I touch anything communal. I haven’t been to the break room in a year. Outside of work, I’ve been better about going to the grocery store and getting gas, but only because I’ve had to be. I am grateful to my OCD for keeping me safe thus far. But this has been a waking nightmare. I know part of it is just my overactive anxiety.

I keep telling myself that I can keep pushing through. But I need some help. My brain is on overload.

Also, I miss writing and being creative. My job doesn’t require much skill, though it does involve attention to detail. I would love to commit myself fully to the craft of writing. I know it might be hard at first to make any income, but I feel like I need to explore some options and at least try.

But for the moment, I need to breathe and take a step back. It’s difficult. My anxiety is telling me that I have to figure everything out, RIGHT NOW. I don’t really want to look for new employment during a pandemic. I appreciate the flexibility my employer has had with me thus far. But at some point, I have to look out for my own best interests. That may mean side gigs and earning an income from home, online, somehow.

I also feel like I need time off to fully support my son. There have been multiple medication changes throughout the year, the most recent one starting last week. We had an appointment with a neurobehavioral clinician that went nowhere. He said that we don’t need to do any further testing, and to “keep up the good work.” Ok. Thanks. What does that even mean? It seemed to imply that we were ineligible for further therapy. So I guess it’s just fine and dandy that my child panics every time a plane flies overhead. Great.

Speaking of panic, I just realized that if I don’t calm down, I’m going to get shingles again. And that is NO GOOD.

Well, help is lined up. And I will continue to weigh my options, limited as they seem.

Early, to Rise

The nice thing about getting up at 3:45 in the morning is that you have time to reflect on how much work you have left to do.

I fell asleep during “Lady and the Tramp” after a busy day. Starlight decided to knock my glasses off the coffee table. When that didn’t work, she knocked the thermos glass of ice off the table.

That definitely worked.

I was looking over my writing samples for a grant application. And I became acutely aware of how my writing has no polish. Does that mean it doesn’t have value? To some people, yes. I can’t decide whether those people are jerks or not.

Do I have a lot of editing left to do? Yes. Do I have time to do it? Questionable. Between managing my care, and my son’s care, and my son’s school, what is left is the time between 3:45 AM and the time he wakes up. The great news is that we are working on Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare today. Two of my favorites!

I have ideas for novels. But at the rate I’m going, they will never be finished or published. I’m trying not to get down on myself. The one time I came close to having something published, I got mixed feedback from the team of editors. Then my writing was warped into something unrecognizable. It wasn’t a good experience, though I suppose I learned something.

I’m going to start family support back up again, and perhaps, counseling. My stress level at home and at work is considerable. Having mental illnesses on top of all of that doesn’t help. I’m coping, during this time of pandemic. But I’m mostly limping along. Phoning it in, so to speak.

I was told my child could essentially “phone in” his classes when he wasn’t well. Log on to school, turn the microphone and camera on, and sort of magically absorb knowledge. Good in theory, but that’s not the way learning works. And when he is sleeping soundly until one in the afternoon after taking an emergency medication, it doesn’t work at all. I don’t think he can absorb lessons subconsciously. Call me crazy. Maybe next, we will put a textbook under his pillow and see what happens.

I love our supportive educators. But as much as they try to relate, many of them have no idea what this is like. How day after day is a struggle.

We did get out for some socially distanced socializing yesterday. It was the first contact my child has had with people his age in months. They wanted to send him in-person to the alternative high school. We aren’t ready for that, yet. Many members of my family have been vaccinated, but my son and I are waiting. I don’t think my asthma is so bad that tackling the virus would be a problem.

But my anxiety tells me otherwise.

Today, between getting him caught up on assignments, I am determined to read, and write. Perhaps I will designate Sunday as a writing work day. With my day job, and all the appointments and phone calls during the week, I just don’t get anything else done.

Starlight is now sleeping soundly on the spare bed.

Must be nice.

Pit Bulls and Other Postal Priorities

I wrote this essay in November of 1996. I’m publishing it on here on what would have been my dad’s 72nd birthday.

Pit Bulls and Other Postal Priorities

Faster than a speeding mail truck…more powerful than a stamp vending machine…able to leap small poodles in a single bound!  It’s dedicated!  It’s surprisingly non-disgruntled!  Yes…IT’S A MAILMAN!

My mother once said that my father has more faith in the Yankees and mailmen than he does in God.  I never questioned his passion concerning baseball; after all, the Yankees are the best team in the universe.  But being a sane person, I would often wonder why he loved the Postal Service so much.  So, I asked him about it.  He was more than willing to share information, due to his firsthand experience.  My father, Edward Slavin, has been a letter carrier for nearly thirty years.  His enthusiasm for his job increases annually.  And no, he’s never packed an Uzi. 

The number of negative connotations concerning “fanatical” Postal workers is disturbing.  After all, a mailman possesses many characteristics of an average superhero.  At first glance he appears a mild-mannered employee of the United States government.  Upon closer examination, one sees that such a man is invaluable to the operation of a nation.  Indeed, he displays much loyalty toward his country and fellow man.  Nothing can deter him from his delivering duties; he must brave hazards (such as papercuts) on a daily basis.  The macho mailman can scale an office building in seconds, though he often has to use the stairs.  The letter carrier zips around in his sporty mailmobile all day, bringing joy to an endless number of civilians.  Yet instead of brightly colored spandex and a cape, the mailman is forced to wear a nondescript uniform.  And let’s face it: not even Superman or Spiderman are brave enough to wear hiked-up socks and safari hats in public.

“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night shall stay these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Indeed, bad weather and other dangers have not prevented Ed Slavin from doing his job since June of 1966.  As a child, my father wanted to be a professional baseball player or a “teacher of mathematics.”  After dropping out of college, he worked briefly as an “engineer of sanitation.”  Seeking a more rewarding profession, he turned to the Postal Service.  My father wanted to quit “when [he first started…[he] didn’t like it.”  He was only earning seventy cents above minimum wage.  For a young man attempting to earn a living in Irvington, New York, two dollars and seventy cents was hardly enough.  Yet he grew to love the work within six months and has had no desire to change professions since. 

Numerous sources claim that “Superman never made any money.”  However, the modern mailman makes quite a bit.  Fortunately, the Postal Service went on strike in 1970.  Congress passed the Postal Reorganization Act, and the wage for Postal workers was raised to over five dollars and hour.  It has been rising steadily over the years.  When I asked my father how much money he makes, a look of terror crossed his face and he replied, “I don’t know.”  When I assured him that this information would in no way increase my shopping habits, he confessed.  He earns about seventeen dollars an hour.  Working over eight hours is considered overtime; he then earns twenty-six dollars, or “time and a half.”  After ten hours he earns the “double time” wage of thirty-five dollars per hour.  When working over twelve hours, he receives a whopping forty four dollars an hour!  I immediately changed my mind about the shopping comment. 

The Post Office ranks its employees according to the experience of the worker.  For example, those with low or no seniority are used as substitutes for ill co-workers.  After a year or two, these workers can put in a bid for a “regular” route.  The individual offices label employees with numbers in accordance to their seniority.  Seven years ago, my family moved from New York to Idaho.  My father had to request a transfer, for he had no intentions of leaving the Post Office.  A small tragedy ensued.  My father accumulated twenty-two years of seniority in Irvington; after the move, he had to start all over again.  After moving up several hundred notches to number five on the revered list of seniority, he moved clear across the country.  Consequently, he received a rank of one hundred and eighty-nine on the Boise list.  Yet he has quickly climbed the charts.  In seven years, he has moved up fifty-four notches to number one-thirty-nine.  As Kasey Kasem might conclude, “now, on with the countdown!”

My father’s alarm clock sometimes goes off at four-thirty in the morning.  On the day after a holiday, he punches in at five or six a.m.  He arrives at seven in the morning on an average day.  The well-being of a mailmobile remains a top priority; my father inspects his faithful vehicle immediately every morning.  “Half asleep,” he then sorts mail for about three hours.  The first hour of sorting is dubbed “the golden hour,” when the letter carriers “are not supposed to talk.”  This silent ceremony supposedly encourages efficiency.  Ed “case[s} letters into a flat case in delivery sequence.”  He then ties the mail in bundles, loads them into his truck, and drives into the brightening sun.  He delivers mail to the crime-ridden metropolis of downtown Boise.

My father has received two “special achievement” awards for efficiency and a certificate extolling him for unused sick leave.  Obviously, he takes great pride in his work.  He enjoys working outdoors and appreciates the exercise.  Interaction with the public is also important to him, and he talks to many of his customers on a regular basis.

However, many unpleasant occurrences can darken the day for any father.  The randomly closed streets of downtown Boise present constant irritation.  Most customers on my father’s route are “nice”; however, he admits that “there’s one lady on my route who’s pretty bitchy.”  Those who complain of the high cost of service are also annoying.  “Go to a different country and it will cost you more,” he remarked.  “It costs more to send a letter in Germany, which is about the size of Texas.”

“Certain supervisors” and the Postmaster General often do not acknowledge the fact that letter carriers are human beings.  Marvin Runyon, the current Postmaster General, is a “crotchety old guy…[who] makes all the major decisions for the Post Office.”  Yet Runyon concerns himself only with the financial aspects of the Postal Service.  Sighing sadly, my father remarked, to them, we are just numbers, numbers, numbers.”

And then there is the issue of dogs.  Mailmen must immediately file reports and receive medical attention for canine-inflicted wounds.  The Postal Service loses three million dollars in productivity per year due to dog attacks.  Canines across America snack on mailmen.  Consider the following example:

It is a quiet summer’s day in Irvington.  A certain German Shepherd (we’ll call him “Rocco” to conceal his identity) sat by the storm window, deep in reverie.  He had just watched the movie “Cujo” with his master, and the film was highly inspirational.  How Rocco longed to become a star; hell, he’d even settle for one of those Alpo commercials.  Just outside the window, something moves.  Rocco’s ears perk: this is just the opportunity he needs to display his star potential!  This could land him the role of Lassie’s abusive boyfriend!  “A mailman!” He thinks.  “Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy.”  Without further thought, he perfects his growl and leaps right through the glass window. 

Ed Slavin may seem superhuman, but he is not immune to injury and has a healthy sense of self-preservation.  After hearing and seeing Rocco blast through a window, my dad yelped.  The dog bounded closer; yet quick thinking and a can of mace prevented potential gore.

“I don’t understand!”  Whined Rocco’s owner.  “He’s a friendly dog!  See, look!  He’s wagging his tail!”  Rocco, however, remaining loyal to the art of theatre, continued to shake his head vigorously and produce shaving cream with his lips.  My father then decided it was time to “wag [his] tail outta there!”

Another time.  Another place.  Another dog.  “Fufu” is hungry.  The Sheltie mix hasn’t eaten in an hour.  The dry heat of Boise is growing unbearable.  But just his luck!  Along strolls a citizen, one who is getting too close for comfort.  Ah, and not just an ordinary citizen, either!  Fufu waits until the left pointer finger is within range.  Chomp!  Mmmmm, delectable!  Mailman with just a touch of Brut!

Harmless little Fufu bit right through my father’s finger.  It was my father’s first week on his “regular” route. 

Yet there exists an organization which can sometimes defend mailmen from dogs and lawsuits.  The National Association of Letter Carriers is the union of the Postal Service.  It was this organization which won the right to negotiate with Congress for the contracts of Postal employees in 1970.  The NALC shields employees from managerial abuses of power and protects each worker’s rights under the contract.  Unfortunately, one is not required to be a member; my father was visibly upset by this fact.  “Non-members get all the benefits without paying…if the union has to defend them if they get fired, they should have to pay the costs.”

The threat of Postal privatization also looms.  Privatization would “do away with the USPS monopoly on first class mail and let other companies compete” in delivery services.  This idea greatly angers my father.  “They [the government] will sell it off in bits and pieces…they’ll deliver to highly profitable areas and leave rural areas to the Postal Service,” he suggests.  He believes a privatized system would cater to only private companies and the wealthy.  Massive layoffs would also occur.

Hoping to spark some semblance of competitive spirit, I asked my father what he thought of the United Parcel Service.  “Do you know what UPS stands for?”  he asked.  “Under Prickly Shrub.  That’s where they leave the packages.  They hide ‘em.  We leave notices,” he added haughtily.

If my father is an average mailman, most mailmen don’t mind the stereotypes surrounding such a profession.  The Postal Service employs over eighty thousand people.  “Other big corporations have problems, too,” he claims.  He feels “disgruntled” incidents are bound to occur; he also feels that the way managers treat employees instigates most violent incidents.  For example, the Postmaster General recently eliminated the “Employee Involvement Program” because it wasn’t cost effective.  My father sometimes worries about ex-employees that might “go off the deep end” and pay the local offices a visit. 

Other stereotypes are a source of amusement for my father.  “I think Cliff Clavin [from “Cheers”] is funny,” he chuckled.  He then told me about an episode where Cliff is going through the hall of a business delivering mail.  After Cliff leaves, the businessmen all open their doors and hand each other the correct mail.  Due to appearance or rhyming last names, my father is often called “Cliff” by certain customers.  The world sometimes operates in reverse: Cliff Clavins hide in the clothing of civilians.  My father told me a true story about an oblivious customer.  A clerk asked her what kind of stamps she would like.  “Anything but the self-adhesive kind,” she remarked.  “They taste terrible!”

My father will retire from the Postal Service in about five years.  When I asked what benefits he would receive, he responded: “A monthly annuity.  That’s about it.”  Yet I know he will always cherish the memories of his job.  I feel better knowing he will never be disgruntled.  When I asked who he would recommend his job to, he pulled a very somber face and said, “Ex-convicts.”

“Just kidding!”

But has our story ended?  Will the increase of e-mail eliminate the need for our hero?  Will a rabid dog cripple him long before his retirement?  Tune in next century to find out!  Until next time, remember to hug your mailman.  And if you see Fufu, run!!!

Le Sigh

It’s been a hell of a week.

We started out with two medication management appointments. One for my son, then one for me. Our provider doubled his sleep medication so that he can sleep through the night. Medication changes can be rough, and I imagine they are even harder for a kid his age. I was prescribed a stimulant to help with my chronic episodes of fatigue.

We held our breath until the inauguration Wednesday. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have a leader who not only acknowledges that transgender people exist, but has the wherewithal to appoint them to important positions. My child and I are over the moon because of this.

But on Wednesday, we also received some tragic news. My grandmother’s dog, Short Stuff (aka Shorty), an adorable little dachshund, passed away. The weekend prior, the poor little fella had a liter of fluid drained from his abdomen. The ultrasound results revealed that he had an inoperable growth in his heart. My grandmother, of course, is devastated. We all are. We will truly miss the little guy.

Then came Thursday. I’m almost 43 years old. I got really excited because I was going to pick up soup from Cafe Zupas before heading to my regular doctor’s appointment. Yes, I am so old that the prospect of having a few quiet moments to myself to eat soup in a parking lot brings me immense joy.

I get out of work and into my car, only to be greeted by a slew of text messages and voicemails. The most important of these said that my grandmother had some kind of an episode and that my mom had taken her to the ER. Apparently she said she didn’t feel well as they were out driving, reclined her seat, turned white as a sheet and was not breathing or responsive for a few minutes. This of course scared the hell out of my mom, who immediately took her to the emergency room.

My first instinct was to drop everything and go to the hospital. But I couldn’t, because of COVID. Instead, I made arrangements for my boyfriend to pick up keys and let the other dogs at my mom’s house out. I had been putting my doctor’s appointment off for months. I’ve been experiencing episodes of intense fatigue since my shingles episode in the summer, and I needed to know why.

I slurped down some soup and then dealt with the first of the voicemails. It was from my son’s doctor’s office. They had some paperwork asking whether E was about to be admitted as an inpatient at a hospital. This came from the insurance company. No one has any idea why. I indicated that I had just texted him to make sure he was doing ok at home, and that we haven’t gone near a hospital in months.

I had my doctor’s appointment. My provider, a nurse practitioner, is awesome. She seems determined to get to the bottom of this. She offers elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes.

They do some basic bloodwork, since basic is all I can afford until better insurance kicks in.

I get back to my car and deal with the other two voicemails. One is to schedule an appointment with Liberty for a re-evaluation for YES Medicaid for my son. I play phone tag with the polite woman, again. Then I have to call St. Luke’s Mental Health, because they are threatening to cancel a referral for my child. I sent the paperwork in Saturday, since no teachers were available to fill out the teacher questionnaire during winter break. The lady on the phone says she always tells people that it’s not the teacher portion that holds the referral up, but the parent portion. But I didn’t speak with this woman before, and therefore had no idea. Insert shooting star with rainbow. The More You Know.

Don’t get me started on how they are so quick to cancel a referral when the waiting list to get an appointment is 6 TO 8 MONTHS LONG in the first place.

I get home and tell E about grandma. He has a lot of anxiety in general lately but in particular, he is worried about grandma or great grandma getting COVID. So I wanted someone to be home with him when he found out great grandma was in the ER.

Fast forward to Friday. Grandma is on the mend and her tests were normal, which is excellent. They think she may have had a seizure, which is not so excellent. I receive a denial letter for life insurance, which, frankly, is discriminatory. And sucks. Apparently the information released from my mental health provider was the nail in the coffin, so to speak. I understand there is an appeal process, but I don’t have the time or energy for more paperwork. I also really couldn’t afford the coverage in the first place, since I am currently only working part time.

The kicker? This week was stressful but not particularly out of the ordinary.

Oh, and to top it off, my blood tests already came back. They are BEAUTIFUL. Everything is in the green. My doc is still offering to refer me out to a clinic rheumatologist, or perhaps the endocrinologist. But my medication manager indicated that sometimes people who have shingles have long-lasting ill effects. So maybe it’s just that.

And all the medical professionals keep telling me to avoid stress.

That’s rich.

To quote this James Corden skit, what a month this week has been.

Unst(able)

Let me dispel a little ableist nonsense I saw on the internet a few nights ago.

It involves a quote that says, “I hate it when people say, ‘must be nice.’ I’ve worked my a** off to be able to do the things I do and have the things I have. You chose to be where you’re at.”

Key word here? Able.

To say anyone would choose severe mental illness, or any other disability for that matter, is presumptuous and privileged at best. If the playing field were leveled, that would be one thing. In reality, it’s not. I didn’t choose this life. It chose me through an unfortunate combination of genetics and lack of access to proper medical treatment.

These quote implies that I’m lazy. I’m quite the opposite. I work very hard to stay employed, manage my own care, and manage the care of my son. For many, many people, life is a series of struggles. And it’s all a lot of us can do to stay afloat. A vast majority of people don’t care if you’re disabled in this country, or simply choose not to acknowlege it.

Must be nice.

Must be nice to never have suffered so much that you no longer wanted to live. Must be nice to have adequate insurance. Must be nice to not have to jump through hoop after hoop to get medical coverage and care for your child.

It would be nice if it wasn’t such a bureaucratic nightmare to get assistance in this country. I’ve dealt with social security for my son for the past year. We are just barely above the threshold for actually receiving any aid for his disability. Because in order to qualify for any form of assistance, you have to be destitute. I have actually lost money by applying for social security on his behalf. Because I have to print out paystubs and mail them with a tracking number to make sure our social security numbers aren’t compromised. That’s $90 in shipping costs alone. Not to mention all the time and effort it took to apply, and the time it takes to call and sort out the communications they send.

So even though I am also disabled, I continue to work. I continue to advocate for my son’s health in any way that I can, even though it involves many hours of red tape and paperwork. I will likely have to work until I drop dead of some stress-related condition. Random lottery win isn’t much of a retirement plan.

And the sad thing is, compared to a lot of people in this country, I’m doing relatively well.

A lot of life is bad luck and happenstance. In light of how many people are truly suffering through this pandemic, I would say that the attitude prevalent in the quote smacks of a deep lack of empathy for other people. So I would encourage those who post it to pull their head out of their hard-working a**es. No one is saying hard work shouldn’t be rewarded. But to imply that because you are “able,” people who are “less than able” don’t deserve to lead a good life? That’s utter bulls***.

Miss Mood

I keep telling myself I’m going to make a habit of writing. Yet, here I am, writing at odd times, while the rest of the household is sleeping. I have been thinking of making a schedule, but with so many appointments and things being generally chaotic, it hasn’t happened. For a detail-oriented person, I really need to get on the ball.

Yet so much of my life is dictated by my mood. Long before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my ex-husband used to call me “Miss Mood.” Ha! It seems a very accurate nickname, in retrospect. I also tend to be ruled by my anxiety. Anxiety that is now manifesting in physical illnesses. Shingles, migraines, psoriasis. I am told I need to stress a lot less. But as an underinsured person during a national health crisis, I’m not quite sure how.

I did slash my hours to 25 a week, but I’m still having trouble managing my son’s care. They do not make anything easy here in the good old US of A. We got a referral concerning a potential sensory processing disorder. He has been having an acute trauma response to loud noises, especially the sounds of planes going by. We live close to the airport. He can’t get earplugs in on time. And the waitlist for the necessary test? Six to eight months. In short, this is not good. I don’t want to have him on any more medication, and his present emergency med just makes him sleep. Which would be fine, except for this concept of being awake and alert for online school.

Online school has been going a bit better due to the efforts of his wonderful and empathetic IEP instructor. I can’t imagine how stressed out this sweet lady must be, and here she is, attempting to help us through this. Teachers were overworked and underpaid before. And now? Man, they need hazardous duty pay. Actually, they needed it before, with the risks of school shootings. But when I think about it, I start asking myself what is wrong with this country. The answer, unfortunately, is A LOT.

Racism. Transphobia. Homophobia. Anti-Semitism. Millions facing eviction. Millions uninsured or underinsured. So many of us just barely getting by. Or not having the opportunity to get by at all, due to a national health crisis. A large percentage of our leaders refusing to help the common people of this country. I am one of the very lucky ones keeping food in my mouth and a roof over my head. But I worry so much about everyone else. It makes me sick that we are getting no government assistance. We really need to stop with this irrational fear of socialism. It seems to come from propaganda, paranoia, and a willingness to believe anything the talking heads say. Let’s face it, folks. We pay taxes. We need help. Our pleas to our leaders for help are getting ignored.

I find it interesting that certain members of Congress have time to back frivolous lawsuits that would essentially upend democracy. But they don’t seem to have the time or the resources to legitimately help a country in an unprecedented crisis. And here in Idaho? Our public officials are facing threats and harassment for trying to do their jobs and protect the public. It is deeply shameful. Putting a mask on hurts no one. Not putting one on increases the spread of this potentially life-threatening disease. I read a sign from a recent protest that read “Why not try liberty instead?” You see, dummies, diseases don’t work that way. Diseases do not have ideals, and do not care what you believe. Hundreds of thousands of people, some vulnerable, some perfectly healthy, have succumbed to this dreadful disease. Stop being a jerk, shut your mouth, and then put a d*** mask over it.

But there I go, being moody again. Just a glance at national and local news tends to aggravate me to my core. No amount of positivity, toxic or otherwise, is underscoring my prevalent mood of despair lately. Oh, and you Nazi jerks that did this? How dare you. Did your parents miss the day they taught empathy in kindergarten? Did you yourself graduate kindergarten? Apparently you didn’t make it to the part in school where they taught us about WWII. Your stupidity and lack of decency is abhorrent.

It’s not that blatant ignorance hasn’t always been around in this country. It’s just lately, it’s been emboldened. Millions blind to the fact that they are being swindled. Millions voting against their self-interest. Millions who voted for a guy who is too busy whining that he didn’t lose, when, in fact, he did. I have no faith in someone who puts his ego and self-interest above MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY HE IS ALLEGEDLY LEADING WHO ARE URGENTLY SUFFERING.

But hey, that’s just me.

Now I’m going to take a moment to stare at the late, great Chris Cornell. And maybe some kittens. Because writing, though usually therapeutic, has not improved my mood.

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

Hello folks! It’s been a while. We have been under a great deal of stress lately. Kiddo has been having major anxiety attacks every time a plane passes or another loud noise occurs. I think it may be a sensory processing disorder, but I’m not a professional. A referral is in the works. I am staying home with him today. We are going to try to ease his anxiety levels by baking cookies.

He desperately wants to rearrange his room. I think he is going stir crazy since I won’t let him go anywhere. Screw this year, and this pandemic in particular. I am going to rearrange the office room today so that we can switch the beds from the different bedrooms.

I received the highest rating possible from a writing sample I did for a content mill. But it’s a content mill. My ultimate goal is to get paid to write for a website, especially one related to entertainment or mental health. I need to get on with writing reviews and beefing up my portfolio. I haven’t had a lot of time. It would be great to freelance for a living. But I am not even close to being able to do that.

I did start reading my boyfriend’s book, finally! I have had it for many months. But because of terrible time management and depression, I didn’t crack it open until my son was at the dentist yesterday. Because of COVID protocols, they make you wait in your car. Much to my delight, Jim’s writing was very engaging. He’s such a smart guy that I figured it would be. It is called Blood Red God, and it is available on Amazon.

He wrote a whole book! I am a lazy writer. Sure, I get ideas for fiction, but I am so critical of my writing that I never get much past the basic concepts or opening scenes. My friends who write books astound me. I need to immerse myself in reading to become a better writer. Heck, one of my friends from college, Cynthia Hand, is writing books faster than I’ve been able to read them! And she has a team of lady writers that she works with, which is about the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard of. I am loathe to admit that I haven’t read their first book, of the Lady Janies series, though it is sitting downstairs and I hear it’s fantastic.

I think I may go downstairs while everyone else is sleeping and rearrange our little library. We need another bookshelf, as the books are quite literally spilling off the shelves. I have accumulated so many books over the past five years. Time to kick this depression somehow and start reading them!

But first, I will try to help my son through some of his homework. I can help with speech and critical thinking, but probably not the math. Math is a language that though beautiful, eludes me. I shall conclude with my favorite song about literature. Hey, that would make a great Spotify playlist. Songs with literary references…