little_tristan: (Default)
Mark got sick. He does that when he gets stressed and stops eating. He stayed in bed yesterday while Russell went to work and attended the new insurance meeting. Short version: we're getting fucked.

Long version: they're switching to Kaiser next month. There are no doctors in our county that accept the regular Kaiser plan, which costs about what we're paying now. We'd have to drive an hour to Salem or Tualatin to see a doctor. Or go to an ER. An ambulance trip to a participating hospital would not be covered due to the ridiculous distance and would cost a fortune. We made that trip once last year, to take Willow to an emergency vet in Tualatin on a weekend. It was a nightmare just with a sleeping puppy. With a sick person--I can't even imagine.

Not to mention that I refuse to switch doctors because, you know, I'm all fucked up and I have a great guy here who can handle it. Who has been handling it for about 15 years now, thank you very much. I've never even been to a different practice. Like, literally since birth. My mom's doctor was there. He delivered me and turned me over to the pediatrician I saw for the next 18 years, who then handed me over to the guy before this guy. The triage nurse used to be the pediatrician's nurse. She always squeezes me in somehow.

Of course changing wouldn't matter much because I can't take a bus to those other cities and Mark couldn't drive me over after work. No one stays open that late. Just getting a med check would mean taking a whole day off. And if Mark or Russell were sick it would mean both of them stayed home. Either can drive the ten minutes to our doctor if they have to. (Even that time Russ had the inner ear thing. He drove staring straight ahead and I checked traffic at intersections and lane changes. Teamwork, y'all. It's the heart of Gilead.) If one is really ill and it's an hour/hour and a half, the other would have to drive.

There is another option, and it's the amazingly sucky one we have to go with. Pay twice as much in premiums. Well, twice as much for Mark and me. Seven and a half times more for Russell--from $20 a month to $152. Just to go to a doctor in our own town instead of an hour away. He said he'd take the cheap plan and just not go to the doctor anymore, but he can't do that. He hardly ever gets sick, but when he does he always ends up in the hospital. (When Russ does something, he does it BIG.)

Of course the bosses know all this, but since we're the only ones outside the service area, they don't care. It saves them money, and so what if my boys are the ones making most of it for them? They've acted like whipped dogs long enough, I'm sure the bosses assume they'll put up with anything. I almost said pay cuts would be next, but guess what? That's EXACTLY what this is. Another $500 less in their checks every month.

I canceled Tammy yesterday so the dogs wouldn't bother Mark. It was nice and quiet for reading, at least. I've suddenly lost the urge to write. That happens when I need a word-infusion. But it's dusty. Maybe I should get used to it. We probably can't afford her anymore.

At least Mark is better today. He feels so guilty when he sleeps that he doesn't do it enough. Also, the atmospheric pressure was weird. It's eased up on our heads some now. Russ is at work again. They're both going tomorrow. Mark's catching up on laundry and making a crock pot of beans for the week. Soon it will be shower time. It feels like Sunday. Tomorrow will be extremely confusing. I won't know what day it is forever.
little_tristan: (Otters Significant Otters)
Not the stuff I should be writing, like my book. Although I thought of a good scene last night that I'm sort of looking forward to.

It turns out that the flip side of dreams seeming real is that everything kind of feels like a dream. So I'm trying to post more and writing things down in the daily log. Tomorrow this will be how I know what happened today.

Later this afternoon Steve and I are taking the bus to the doctor. Mark will meet us there after work and take me to water therapy. I'm going to suggest that Steve put his bike in the van so we can drop him off along the way. He wants to have supper ready when we get home. I'll be too tired after therapy to record these things, but I know they're going to happen.

Yesterday Heather told me what she observed of Steve over the weekend, which is what I observed last week. Something was bothering him and she confirmed my guess as to what it was. He was willing to talk about it a little and I think his mind is somewhat at ease on the matter now. At least he trusts that we're going to help as much as we can, and things have lightened up a little between us. It's a huge relief. Usually when I get depressed I focus it on people's perceived attitudes and drown in the belief that they don't care if I live or die. But I can't look him in the eye anymore and accuse him of that. His caring isn't the type I'm used to, but it's still pretty obvious. Which means I have to protect him from all this as much as possible, but I can also rest in the knowledge that he understands and will protect me.

It's good not to be alone.
little_tristan: (Kitten Oxygen)
It's still too early to call the doctor, but I'm seriously looking forward to it. That eye infection I had a few weeks ago? It's in my left eye now. At least this time I know what the odd stabbing pain is so I don't have to wait for it to get worse. We're putting leftover antibiotic ointment in it until I can get to the doctor. More work for Steve.

I Googled my antidepressant and it's possible that it's "interfering with my ability to fight off infection", as they say in the commercials. I was okay with the eye thing and the skin thing (don't ask) and the foot wounds that don't heal, but only as long as I wasn't depressed. If I'm going to be depressed anyway it's really not worth it.

Honestly, and I know this is something all mentally ill people say at some point, I kind of want to try going without antidepressants again. Stick with the mood stabilizer and the tranquilizer (which I'm addicted to anyway), but wean off the hard stuff. I've been known to go a couple years without any and things are, outside of my head, pretty good at the moment. But it's more up to the doctor than it is me. I just want to ask him about it. Maybe there's a sane and happy me inside that's dampened and confused by all the drugs right now.

Or maybe I'd just feel better if the anemia was under control and I had my immune system back. Twenty minutes til I can call.
little_tristan: (Otters Significant Otters)
I had my first meeting with my new physical therapist, Davita. She did an evaluation of my strength and range of motion (for 12 years in a wheelchair, I rocked it, thank you very much), and next Wednesday I get to get in the pool! Yes! I will be free! Or as free as I can be in 5 feet of water with two people who probably won't let me get my head wet. But there will be standing and moving! And Mark in swim trunks! (Poor Mark.) And me in a bathing suit for the first time in 16 years. (Poor Mark.) I ordered a tankini online and said I couldn't start til Wednesday, even with rush shipping. Still have to find something for Mark.

He doesn't get to go Wednesday, though. It's in the morning, so Heather's coming down to take me. Water therapy with Mark will be a fun new bonding experience, but playing in a pool with Heather will be a rerun of the summer of 1987. I'm kind of excited about that, too.

We decided to pursue this because it doesn't feel good emotionally to have no physical outlets for my chronic nervousness. It makes me sad and self-destructive, which my doctor is working really hard to turn around. Also, my body is starting to take on the shape of a chair, with tendon contractures and stiff joints and shortened muscles and all that fail. Since I can't go into space, water seemed like the next best thing. But just now I realized that exercise burns calories, which I can then replace by eating MORE FOOD, or not replace and lose weight faster. How cool is that? I know I used to know this--I just totally forgot that it could apply to me after it, you know, stopped applying to me. But exercise! I can haz it!
little_tristan: (Kitten Oxygen)
It was pretty standard stuff. I talked about the bleeding and bruising and such that I was still having after my last visit, almost three months ago. But I think it's better because when they drew blood, it not only stopped short of soaking the cotton ball, there isn't even a bruise in my elbow. The last couple times there was a huge bruise that lasted for weeks. So we're hoping the iron is working, and that's good news.

What bothered me was--okay, they have a new system. The patient gives all the information to a nurse who types it into the computer and then reads it to the doctor when he comes in. I told her about the depression cycles, the time my leg sprung a leak for no reason, and the occasional hallucinations, which might be a result of the antidepressants or just part of being me. I've had them before, so I'm trying to keep track and see if it's getting worse. And, as a side note, this isn't something that particularly bothers me. I mean, at the time, a little. But then I blink and it goes away. No big deal. But I don't think the nurse sees it that way. She introduced the spontaneous leg bleeding, which I had described as so painless and bizarre that my first reaction was to look up and see if it was dripping from the ceiling, by saying, "The patient admits to hallucinations, but..." And proceeded to make it sound like it might not have happened.

At the time, I was just upset about being doubted. I mean, I can tell the difference. It lasted a good five minutes. And I cleaned it up, for puppy's sake. There was bloody tissue in the trash all day. If it wasn't real, I'd have figured it out in just a few seconds. I do have a rational mind and it's still in charge. But once I got over being defensive about that, I started thinking admits to hallucinations? Like, should I not have? Is it a dirty, shameful thing that people are supposed to hide, like drug use and child beating? Did I blow my credibility with that nurse for good? Have I just blown my credibility with you? It's a worrisome thing, knowing you're not a liar but that people may not believe you anyway.

On the bright side, I may become less depressed again. And it seems like I'm no longer in danger of bleeding to death from a cat scratch. Unless they hit the varicose vein in my knee. I told him about Quo's recent experience with that and he just nodded and said he's seen it a few times, so I better be careful. I told him to tell that to Murphy Sloane. He's the one who hasn't retracted his claws since 2007.
little_tristan: (Kitten Glowing Kitten is Glowing)
I guess I've probably had hallucinations for most of my life. Whether that's a chemical thing or an emotional thing, I don't know. I know that when I was a little kid, I thought our house was haunted. I saw strangers inside with first disturbing and then casual frequency. Also deceased pets. Some were aural, as in hearing jingly dog tags or scratching at the door. Once I went to the door to let the dog in when she was sleeping at Mom's feet across the room. There have been more upsetting images over the years, some that have frightened me badly, but no one attaches much importance to the images themselves. (Probably Kay would. I should mention it to her.)

But what happened today was different from previous events. I was taking the dogs outside and they were in their usual places, Ranger just behind me on my right and Willow walking backward in front of me, trying to tease her into coming around so they could wrestle. I hate this because she always does it on the ramp and it's hard not to run over a dog that's actually running up at me. So she was coming at Ray and about to get hit and I stuck out my right foot to snowplow her out of the way, like always. But Ray came around a little and Willow saw a chance to grab her collar. She wrapped her forelegs around my shin, dug her nails into my calf, and got a mouthful of Ranger.

That really happened.

Some of this didn't. It was tremendously painful, and that seemed to cause a mental doubling in my head. I was seeing her with my eyes, digging in her claws and pulling on Ray's collar, but the image in my mind, which was equally clear and real, was of her sinking her teeth into my leg. I knew it wasn't really real, but I saw it. And felt it. And started screaming. For just a few seconds after she let go and backed away, I saw ragged flesh and streaming blood. And then I just saw my own pale skin with some deep but bloodless scratches. In my mind, it's exactly as if both things happened but only one left physical evidence.

Since I started the new anti-depressant, my doctor has been asking about this sort of thing, along with unusually vivid dreams and tremors in my hands. I guess I need to tell him this story, but I wonder if it matters or if it's just part of the same brain chemistry I've had all my life. Everything gets so vague when you're crazy.
little_tristan: (Moo)
That I forgot one of the best ones! The VW mechanic called to say he'd driven the truck a little and looked it over, and he thinks the engine is sound. It needs a tune up, new filters and glow plugs (the things that heat the oil in a diesel so it'll start; in winter when it's really cold there's an electric heater we'll plug into an outlet), that sort of thing, but he thinks that'll bring it up to speed. He'll check the compression and all, but he seemed pretty sure that it was okay.

Then he mentioned that it had very little by way of brakes, and that led to a funny conversation where I came off sounding very stupid. I said yes, the guy we bought it from had mentioned that it probably needed a brake job. And the mechanic said, well, not really. It's just that the vacuum pump that powers them isn't working. It took me a second to process that and then ask, you mean it has power brakes? And everyone had a little laugh at my expense. :)

But it's not like I've ever driven it, and we're all used to the axiom that cars with standard transmissions don't have power brakes. So whatever. He's going to call me back today or Monday with the results of the compression tests, but if that turns out like he expects, he says he can get it running really well for about a quarter of what we'd anticipated spending. And if he really does it, we can rest easy knowing we have a VW shop for next time. *happy car dance*
little_tristan: (Kitten Simon's Cat)
I've been suspecting for a couple of weeks that there was something wrong with my kidney, but it wasn't that bad and--I know this is stupid and normally I'm the first to harass and berate people who do it, but--I really didn't want to know. I've just been on information/responsibility overload for so long now, if it's not a legal obligation or something I can fix at home in a day, I just have to put it off. So the logistics of scheduling an appointment, making sure Herr's available to drive (not at work, not overwhelmed with other things, usw), was just too much.

Plus, I'm scared. Mom's kidneys failed so fast right out of nowhere, but not quite fast enough for her to go on dialysis or anything, and then suddenly she was gone and we never quite knew why. And I only have the one, and I'd never get approved by UNOS because of the whole MD thing, and my closest relatives are cousins of varying degrees of removal (Sister is so not a surgical candidate), so a big part of me just didn't want to know. Not while I have so many other things to worry about, like the estate closing in 5 days, and the deal with the storage unit, and the fact that I hear Mom's voice now, pretty much all the time, and she says the nicest things and I just can't stand it.

Wait. *brisk head shake* Okay, enough of that.

But I was clearly sick yesterday, and Herr was home, so off we went to see the wizard. Who totally solved one problem right off the bat: the matter of the medication I ran out of a week ago yesterday and couldn't get refilled. Turns out he approved it on MONDAY and the pharmacy was just dicking me around all week. "No, we're still waiting to hear back." "I'll leave them another message." "We've faxed two requests already." But no. He showed me right on the office computer that they faxed it over ON MONDAY. And then his nurse called them and yelled.:) So, in case you all were wondering, yes, I was off my meds this past week.

He gave me an antibiotic and a flu shot, and took a bunch of blood for possibly unnecessary tests just to make me feel better. When he sends the little card next week that says my kidney's functioning normally, it'll be a huge weight off my mind. And if it isn't, which he said might be the case, it's probably because, hello, it is infected at the moment. I already had an appointment for the 16th for my annual med check, so if the blood work doesn't look right now, we can redo it then. I totally don't mind. And I'll have the comfort during that two week wait of knowing that he didn't expect it to be perfect anyway.

As always, after these stupid scares, I'm drinking lots of water and already feeling much better. And I only had to get up to pee once during the night. Which was awesome, because I went about 20 times during the day (so much ow) and was sort of afraid that going to bed at all would be pointless. But Herr wasn't as tired as usual and we got to talk for a while and it was actually pretty nice.
little_tristan: (Kindle)
Mary Fisher lives in the High Tower by the sea. She's blond and rich and tiny and beautiful and she gets everything she wants. Or everything she thinks she wants. When she decides she wants Robert "Bobbo" Patchett, she gets him. But Bobbo comes with strings attached, and Mary is in over her head almost from the moment they meet.

Ruth Patchett is an unusual woman. Nearly six feet tall, broad of shoulder and thick of--well--everything, she's nobody's idea of physical perfection. Least of all her own. Ruth has no illusions about herself, though. All of her illusions are reserved for her husband, whom she believes loves her. She knows he sleeps with other women, Bobbo thinks honesty is the most important thing so he tells her whenever he falls for someone new, but he always comes home to her and she thinks that matters. It doesn't.

Bobbo, an avaricious philanderer with an adding machine for a heart, thinks he can have whatever he wants and no one will get hurt. He believes in logic, but only his own. Logically, if he tells Ruth he's seeing another woman, he was honest and that makes it okay. She has no right to be hurt because he wasn't in love when they married. But she was. If he ever knew that, he didn't care then and he doesn't now. Not now that he has Mary Fisher on the side. His life is perfect, with Ruth and the children at home in the suburbs making him look like the perfect family man and Mary in the converted light house, writing her romance novels and being the perfect mistress.

Until Bobbo pushes Ruth too far. His logical honesty doesn't extend to his parents, and when she stands up to him in front of them, revealing his affairs and her own unhappiness, he snaps and walks out on her. It looks like his victory, taking all the money, giving her a pittance for an allowance and leaving her with the kids, but he makes a fatal mistake. On the way out the door, he tells her she's not a woman at all--she's a She Devil. And in that concept Ruth finally finds her power.

A She Devil doesn't have to be honest. She doesn't have to care about people's feelings, or even their lives. She can have and do whatever she wants, because she is a devil. And with that new knowledge firmly in mind, Ruth begins to systematically dismantle both Mary and Bobbo's lives. Along the way, she takes down some secretaries, a few of Bobbo's clients, and guides a similarly misfit nurse into a life of lesbianism and adoptive motherhood. And then she makes medical history with a series of cosmetic surgeries that have never been done before and that she probably shouldn't have been able to survive.

This is not a happy book, yet it makes me happy to read it. It's not a funny book, but it makes me laugh. Ruth isn't a sympathetic character--in fact, she scares the hell out of me--but I love her and want the best for her. Some of her choices seem questionable at best and an affront to God and nature at worst (and her worst is pretty bad), but it seems to give her satisfaction, if not actual happiness. I don't think she can ever really be happy, because she is a She Devil and devils aren't a happy race, but she does get what she wants. And, unlike the unfortunate Mary Fisher who is probably the only real victim in the story (except maybe Ruth's children), she's totally on top of the situation. Maybe it's her height, but one gets the idea that Ruth, after she discovers her inner devil, is never in over her head again.
little_tristan: (Firefly Jayne and River Never Alone)
...who will hereafter be known as Kay. I have to say that some of my fears were valid--she is a bit scattered and disorganized--but I'm still glad I went and I'm planning on going again. She listens to me ramble and I don't have have to worry about the burden of grief that I'm putting on her. There are still things that I feel like I can't say here or to my friends just because they're too awful. It makes people think about the possibility of losing the people they love most (Kay's mother died last year; that seems to help), and some of it kind of makes them worry about me. Which they shouldn't do, I don't think. I mean, I think I'm basically okay. And it's good to be able to say things out loud, in words, that I've only written about so far. Herr and Bruder and Cousin H all have trouble listening--they're ones that gets to thinking too much about being left alone one day--and I don't have anyone else for RL conversation. My sister, I suspect, pretends most of the time that it simply never happened.

Observations that Kay made yesterday--1) I'm unusually hard on myself. (Her exact words: You shit on yourself a lot.) 2) God loves me anyway. 3) I probably need to cry more. (She seemed to be disturbed when I got to a part of the story where I had to cry [footprint of the door] and then just stopped talking, without crying, until it passed.)

Possibly the most useful part? She's read ALL the books on grieving, so she knew which ones would be most appropriate to my situation. (Books about parents losing children, adults losing siblings, children losing siblings, and anything related to friends or pets are kind of a waste of time. Okay, I've lost a lot of friends and pets, but I feel like I have a handle on that.) I went to the library and looked at a bunch of them, and then came home and bought a couple for Booker. We'll see if that helps.

Today one of my cousins posted a picture of Mom on her FB. I'm still trying to decide if that helps or not.
little_tristan: (Remmington Steele Sleeping)
Bruder didn't feel at all better yesterday. He did scarf down three times the recommended dose of meclizine (my fault--I should have known he couldn't read the box) and that stopped the vomiting, but he still couldn't walk without holding onto my chair. Around eleven, I started trying to get him in with an ear/nose/throat doctor who might be able to fix it (a guy from work had his head vibrated by a specialist and said it fixed it within seconds), but no one was available. Our doctor said he needed to go to the ER, but he wouldn't go alone and getting wheelchair transport with no notice is impossible in this town. The cripple bus was scheduled too tight and the only cab company to have a lift van suddenly doesn't anymore. I guess the assumption is that sick cripples take ambulances and leave their chairs at home, and sick ambulators don't really need them along. Anyway, the meclizine finally kicked in good around noon so he drove us himself, with me watching for traffic so he didn't have to turn his head.
This is where it gets good )
little_tristan: (Shaun)
I watched Stripperland yesterday. It was surprisingly bad in ways that I’ve never encountered in a movie before. Like, the sound editing was—well, they probably didn’t have sound editing. Everything inside the cars was hollow and echoey, like they were all shouting into cardboard tubes. And no zombie traditions were respected. They were killing zombies by blowing holes in their guts and cutting off single limbs. (The special effects were indescribably bad, of course.) And everyone in the movie had seen Zombieland. They made occasional stabs at deconstructing it, but mostly just went with imitation. In virtually every way, except that Stripperland just wasn't funny. There were also a few jokes borrowed from Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and, oddly, Star Wars. (Because every movie needs a Star Wars reference?) And I think there were some quotes from 28 Days Later, but they weren't jokes. That movie just wasn't funny.

But. It also said some interesting things about women, strippers, and feminism. Nothing too profound, but enough that I kind of felt like the guys who made the movie, at least, weren’t as dense as other aspects of the film might lead one to believe. So it had sort of a worthwhile, if somewhat heavy handed, message.

However, and this is why I watched it, it also had Thom Bray. And why not? It was filmed in Portland (hilarious goof: they stop at a mall in another state, and after getting back on the road, see a sign that says Oregon 20 miles; but the mall was Jantzen Beach--they didn't try to disguise the sign or anything--which is in Portland) and he does love to do bad horror movies. Usually none this bad, but still... Anyway, he played the sole non-zombie bad guy, a sort of generic evil doctor with a severe Oedipal problem and no respect whatsoever for women as human beings. He was experimenting with zombie strippers to try to calm them down and train them in wifely arts, the idea being that since they can't think for themselves, they're already nearly perfect. He got as far as teaching one of them to sort of do a manicure (Thom with nail polish--pause for hand porn), and then one thing led to another and they ate him. Being an over-the-top bad guy, this is not a sentimental loss. Not like in Prince of Darkness, where the look on his face as he dies always makes me cry. (If you don't follow Thom's horror movies, be advised that he always dies. And he's usually really cute first, so it's sad.)

Anyway, not even Thom could make this funny, but he still did an awesome job. The kid who was the primary character/narrator/maker of rules was a decent actor, too, but they were the only ones. He's lucky he got to work with a master at the very beginning of his career.

(Interesting side note: the only reason I knew about this movie was because it was listed on Thom's IMDB resume. It was there as recently as last week, but it's gone now. And he's no longer listed on the movie's cast and crew page. So you'll just have to take my word for it, I guess.)
little_tristan: (No Icon)
We lost Doc this morning. I seriously don't want to talk about it, so instead, here's a video of her in all her wacky glory.

Doctor Dog {September 3, 2000--April 23, 2011}
little_tristan: (Losers Cougar Got Your Back)
Day 21 - What is the best advice you ever got? From who?

"Don't worry about getting it right the first time. That's what rewrites are for."

~Steve Werth

This always stuck in my mind for three reasons. One, it's true. Two, it was high school and Steve Werth was the first person to ever take my writing dreams seriously. And three, I had a crush on him. (He was a year older than me und sehr cute.) Anyway, twenty years later, I'm still taking it easy and depending on the rewrites.
little_tristan: (cutter john)
It went pretty well. We decided that my meds are good for now, although I'm still having some problems. I think they're most likely hormonal, so I don't want to mess with the brain stuff until after I see the gynecologist and talk to him about that. We also talked about the increasing pain and the benefits of having a different wheelchair. He said that the safety issue of having the wrong wheels should be enough to push it through, but he also thinks that having a reclining seat back would give me more positioning options and maybe help with the muscle and tendon contractures. Along those same lines, he showed Herr some fun stretching exercises that we can do at home, in the hopes that working the muscle in my hip a little will make it less awful to sleep on. We tried it last night and it really helped. I'd thought it would before, but it was hard to talk Herr into manhandling me without instructions, or proof that it would be worth the risk. But he walked out of the demonstration amazed by how good it felt, so lucky me.

The downer was that I haven't lost any weight. At least not since last year. In fact, my gain over last year was pretty much in line with previous years. Ever since I haven't been walking, it's been a very regular, predictable increase. But I'm comforting myself with the possibility that a) I actually did gain more and lost a pound or two since July, or b) I haven't lost any, but had I not changed my eating habits so radically, the increase would have been greater. The problem here is that I didn't have a scale in July to get a starting weight, so all I can compare it to is last year at the doctor. And I probably won't get to compare again until next year.

I hope I don't sound like I'm just being vain and wanting to be skinny like the girls on tv (although I sort of do). I just need to get this under control before I get too big for Herr to lift. He's stronger than a man his age and size has any right to be (seriously, he's like a stick figure with muscle), but I already outweigh him by 50 pounds and he's not getting any younger. Plus, the increasing size of my butt is almost certainly a factor in the hip pain. The more weight on a pressure point, the faster it breaks down. (The doctor said pregnant women who sleep on their sides all the time have the same thing, so you ladies with kids probably know exactly what I'm talking about.)

He also said the insurance company would probably buy me one of those air mattresses like they have on the really modern hospital beds--the ones with separate air pockets that alternate pressure independently while you sleep. That could be fun, too. So it was a really good visit. It's nice to talk to someone who doesn't think I should just accept a lifetime of ever-increasing pain, and has the power to do something about it.

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