carose59: common unhappiness (empty and aching and i don't know why)
"Well, If He Actually Went Mad—Or Thinks He Did . . . ."*

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So, I woke up this morning feeling terrible in a vague, existential, maybe my body is on wrong kind of way. I spent a long time in the bathroom working crossword puzzles because that soothes me and will sometimes make all the bad stuff go away.

It didn't.

I got ready for work, even managed to hit the post office to drop off the latest Netflix DVD without screaming, or crying very much. Got to work.

I took my blood pressure before I left the house and I don't remember what it was.

I took it again here and it was OK, but my pulse was 115, which probably explained my headache. "I am having a terrible, no good, very bad day," I said to nobody.

Actually, what I said was, "I'm having a fucking panic attack." And I took my blood pressure eight more times and kept getting error messages, which my brain insisted on interpreting as the little machine looking at my real numbers and saying, "Oh, my fucking God, this cannot be right!"

Though it probably wasn't.

I considered the logistics of the emergency room. Methodist is close, but I don't know where to park. Community is a little farther but the parking is easy.

Leaving would be considered an incident and would go on my permanent record.

I told myself I wasn't ready to die just yet, then I started crying and took my blood pressure again. The numbers were normalish. My pulse was down to sixty-seven.

This crap has been going on for days now, and why not? My mother died and I'm exhausted and the people in charge where I work hate us all the way Donald Trump hates us. And the new slacks I bought are weird and I was late for my appointment with Diane the other day and just can't seem to get anything right.

And I'm disturbingly aware of the back of the left side of my head. It doesn't hurt, and I know what it is—it's a muscle thing coming up from my left shoulder, but when I'm scared it becomes an aneurysm waiting to explode in my head.

It's not an aneurysm.

As I was sobbing just a moment ago, head down on my desk, I was thinking that this was what I was supposed to be doing when I see Diane. Only what good is that, having somebody watch me cry? It's like having somebody watch you vomit when you have food poisoning, it's a symptom—a good symptom, you want to get the poison out. The crying is what brought down my pulse rate. I need Diane for other things.

I don't know why, but I always think of Kimberly in moments like this. I miss her.

*Randolph Carter
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"Oh, Great, I Have To Work. I'm Always Working When The World Ends."*

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This isn't a menopause thing, it's a Cymbalta-withdrawal thing, and you have no idea how happy this makes me. I thought I was either dying or losing my mind—those are my default assumptions about anything that happens to me. An unpleasant chemical reaction to the lack of a drug in my system is like a picnic in the park compared to either of those.

I'm crying a lot lately, too. That could also be a withdrawal thing, or it could be just me going back to being me, and I can deal with it. Maybe this is also why I've been feeling sort of dizzyish lately. Cymbalta. Actually, lack of Cymbalta. Not panic attacks, not anxiety, an actual real not-dying thing happening to me.

You know what that means? It means I get to be nice to myself. It means I don't have to be stern and unforgiving when I can't do perfectly ordinary things like drive to the north side of town where I've driven many, many times before. I can stop feeling like a failure because my stupid behavior is being caused by an actual thing instead of just my mind suddenly forgetting that driving over a bridge is perfectly safe.

I cannot tell you how wonderful this is.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

In other news, I'm reading this book called, What Alice Forgot, and it's one of the things that's had me on the edge of tears. It's about a woman who gets amnesia and loses ten years of her memory—ten years in which she had three children, her best friend died, her beloved sister drifted out of her life, and she and her husband are getting a divorce. And she can't understand why her sister and husband seem to hate her because the last thing she remembers is being happily married and close to her sister. I feel so sorry for her, though it looks like things might work out.

It's a relief to actually cry about this, instead of just absorbing it and having the sadness be a part of me. Crying drains off the poisoned groundwater, of which I have oceans. Really, it's amazing I don't cry more.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I dreamed about my mother the other night. She was alive again—that is, had been dead and now wasn't. My mind is very stubborn on this subject. And I was so annoyed because she had all of these chores she wanted me to do, and then she tells me brightly, "And on Saturday you don't have to do any chores because we're going to spend the whole day cooking and baking," as though she was taking me on that picnic in the park instead of expecting me to spend a whole day in the kitchen. And all I could think was, "I don't fucking want to spend my day cooking! How is that not a chore?!"

And I was wondering when she was going to die again.

I hope I'm not supposed to feel bad about this, because I don't. I find it funny. I loved my mother, but we didn't have the perfect relationship and I spend a lot of energy not being angry—and not showing I was angry when I couldn't avoid feeling it—and I'm relieved not to have to do that anymore. I'm relieved to be able to feel the unacceptable emotions that have always been there.

*Dr. John Carter
carose59: friendships (even to know they are alive in the world)
Love Is Blind; Friendship Closes Its Eyes.*

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A few weeks ago, right out of the blue, I got a call from a longtime friend. It was the last thing I was expecting.

At a time in my life when I really believed the only thing that was going to happen with friends was them leaving me, someone actually went out of her way to reconnect with me. I've felt like such a charity case for the last few years, I cannot tell you what this means to me. Beyond the sheer joy of having someone to talk to with whom I have a shared history, there's feeling like a worthwhile friend again.

I'm having fun again. I'm being fun again. I wasn't sure I remembered how to be fun.

-:- -:- -:- -:--:- -:- -:- -:-

In other news, my family—some of my family—is worried about me, about me not having anyone to lean on. Patrick has actually reached out to me, and he said he talked to my uncle about me being alone. Honestly, if you'd asked me, I would have said my family never thinks about me when I'm not around.

-:- -:- -:- -:--:- -:- -:- -:-

Also, although I have probably not lost any weight, I do seem to be moving around more easily. I feel smaller. I feel lighter.

So there are good things.

*Friedrich Nietzsche
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
I Have A Rock Garden. Last Week Three Of Them Died.*

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Yesterday my mother told me the same story four times.

I know it was the same story because of the hand gestures. They weren't identical. No, each time they were a little more precise, a little more nuanced. If those motions had been words, their emphasis and enunciation could have cut glass by the fourth time around. It was like she was speaking to a slow child.

Except, of course, she wasn't speaking.

People have told me to humor her. That doesn't work, anymore than it worked when she'd pretend to have understood what I said when she was tired of me repeating myself. We know each other too well. Smiling and nodding isn't an adequate response, and neither are generalities.** We're precise people. We're word people.

I'm aware that I'm now in a position similar to hers: when she speaks, I hear only mumbling, mostly. It does not make me more sympathetic; it pisses me off. When she couldn't hear me, she could yell at me to talk louder or to lower my register. I can't tell her to stop mumbling and use real words. If you're thinking, well, she can't help it,this is outside her control, I agree. But how deep and loud I'm able to speak isn't something I have a whole lot of control over either. I did my best, but it wasn't enough.***

I wish, I wish, I genuinely wish she would just shut up. I'm so tired of looking at her with my very best expression of devoted interest while she mumbles incoherently. In so many ways I am my father's daughter, inappropriately pragmatic. What is the point of wasting my time listening to my mother express ideas in sounds I cannot understand? If she was getting something out of it it would be different, but we're both frustrated.

But I have to be there because she wants me to be there, no matter how unsatisfying the experience is for both of us.

*Richard Diran
**The most bizarre thing about all of this is, she seems to be able to hear better. I have no idea how this is possible, but some of the staff members have commented on it.
***Please, put this on my tombstone.

*sigh* More of this

Sunday, 19 June 2016 12:14 am
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
I Don't Necessarily Agree With Everything I Say.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I feel like I should be writing about the stuff with my mother, but there just isn't anything to say. When I visited her today, she prayed for a while. I could tell this by her folded hands and her cadence. When I told her I was leaving, she kissed me, then she looked at my earrings, and then she pointed at my face the way you do when you're using your finger to count something. I have no idea what that meant.

I was talking to Diane today and I told her how the weirdest thing was the way words are interspersed with the unintelligible sounds, and it hit me why that's the thing that throws me so. It's the title of a James Thurber story, What do you mean it was Brillig? That emphasis on the was always cracked me up: the implication that the question isn't what the hell does brillig mean? but isn't it still brillig? is funny. And two sets of nonsense syllables connected by a real word is also funny. You can dismiss something that's nothing but nonsense, but if there's a little sense thrown in, your brain wants to parse it. At least, my brain does. We're pattern-seeking creatures.

I don't know what she wants. She practices writing her name, and she's doing very well. She's told me more than once that she's ready to go, but I've known for a while she's not who she thinks she is.

Probably nobody is. I work very hard at being who I think I am, but I probably fail a lot. My mother would say things like she didn't want people at the hospital with her, but that wasn't true. (She once needed an early morning ride to the hospital. I assumed I'd just be dropping her off. Two hours later—after she was settled in her room in her bed—I was home, with Pat asking me what had taken so long. But if you asked my mother, she would have told you I just dropped her off. I, on the other hand, really don't want anyone there when I go to the doctor or hospital. Dropped off at the curb works great for me.)

It's all so frustrating. I have to make decisions not knowing what she wants, not even knowing for sure who she is. Some days I'm not even sure who I am. And all I want to do is stay home and watch TV.

*Marshall McLuhan
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
When Cryptography Is Outlawed, Bayl Bhgynjf Jvyy Unir Cevinpl.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother is getting speech therapy.

Yesterday she said "no" and "zipper."

The "no" was in answer to a question. I think the "zipper" was just to show that she could say it. I'm all in favor of them increasing the number of words she can say, but I wish they'd focus on the ones she really needs. None of her clothes have zippers, so saying zipper doesn't seem like a high priority to me.

They're also working on her writing. From what I could tell, she's been practicing her maiden name, and her twin brother's name. Since her legal name is now Kiesel, and since my uncle is now dead, again, I'm thinking this isn't the most productive use of her time. Of course, it could be what she's choosing to write, and maybe there's a message in there, only I don't have a secret decoder ring.

Talking to her is making me crazy. I can't understand anything she says, and she's been pulling that cat trick of staring over my head like something is about to land on me. It makes me nervous. I was looking around, but I've stopped doing that. Now I just look down and wait for her to look at me again.

For all I know she's seeing dead people. Before the stroke, my father was talking to her. Last I heard, he wanted a bed and new clothes. I told her he wasn't getting any new clothes, he was dead and he didn't need them.

This voice-hearing was about her deafness and her solitude. When you can't hear, your brain will make up stuff to entertain you. Why her brain chose my father complaining, I don't know. Before that it was a noise that wasn't there, and before that it was me arguing with an unknown man, and before that, it was me singing.

And if this sounds like she was losing her mind, kinda-sorta. We're crazy in my family, but we're also very grounded. At one point she told me if I was going to pray for her, I should pray to St. Joan of Arc because she heard voices, too. Nobody who talks like that about the unreal voices they hear is really crazy. It's possible to believe and disbelieve simultaneously, but it will never make you happy.

When I go to visit, I sit in a room with two TVs going, and a conversation behind a curtain, loud to be heard over the TVs, and sounds in the hallway, while my mother mumbles at me. Even if there were words strung together in actual sentences, I'd be having trouble following her—I've always had trouble with multiple simultaneous conversations. But this is like some terrible game: I've always felt inadequate, like I wasn't doing well enough, wasn't trying hard enough. Now it's marathon How Inadequate Are You?, where I spend eternities getting it wrong, having nothing to say, being helpless, drowning, wishing I were someplace else, wishing I could go to sleep, wishing I were dead. I just keep saying I'm sorry.

It doesn't help.

I wish we could be wordless and primal, just sit holding hands and being together. But my mother has things to say.

I got a call from a person the activities lady at the rehab center. She wanted to know what my mother enjoyed doing.

Well, she liked to read, but I have no idea if she still can. The last book I gave her, she snuggled with. She watched TV, but she can't really hear, so the volume level needed for her to know what's going on is likely to make her roommate deaf. She liked talking to people, but she can't make words; she liked keeping a diary, but she can't write. What the hell do you want from me?

I didn't say that. I think I whimpered helplessly.

The woman asked if she like to go outside and play games.

I think those were supposed to be two separate ideas, but I had to suppress the urge to say, "Yes! Tag and hopscotch are her favorite games!" I said I think she'd like to go outside, now that it's gotten really warm, but that I didn't know about games.

I told her if my mother wasn't interested in doing something, she was quite capable of making her disinclination known, and we agreed to use that guideline. And I sat and trembled for half an hour.

I don't know. I don't have any answers. I'm so tired I feel like I'm going to die, and the last time I felt like this, Pat died. So I'm not in very good shape.

*Bumper sticker

So, here's an update

Friday, 10 June 2016 10:33 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"Why Don't You Just Dot The O, And Be Tim?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother is making sounds and, very occasionally, words. It's disconcerting. She'll be muttering, saying, "Ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh," no words, but with the cadence of a conversation. And then it will be, "Ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh, but ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh," which, I have to tell you, is just freaky. The sounds-that-aren't-words is frustrating, but that occasional word thrown in is maddening. It's like a code I can't decipher.

Her eyes are bright. She's very engaged. She has a lot to say, but she can't make the words to say it. I have to keep telling her I can't understand her which frustrates her and leaves me feeling inadequate. I'm supposed take care of everything and how can I take care of things I don't understand?

She's doing speech therapy, and apparently—writing therapy? I don't know what you'd call it, but when I visited today she had a pen and paper and she's writing maiden name. The first few letters are good, readable, but the last few aren't. There were also a lot of loops and squiggles.

That was really odd for me. (And it is all about me.)

Before I learned to read, I was trying to learn to write. I wasn't trying to learn to read—I had no need to learn to read, people read to me. But nobody could write for me, and apparently I had things to say.

I knew what handwriting looked like, so I would make loops across a page—probably the only word I could have made from that would be "eel." I also understood about i's and t's—I knew you crossed some of them and dotted others. I would show this to my mother and ask if there were any words there.

I know now how bass-ackwards this was, not unlike saying nonsense syllables in the hopes of stumbling on language. But, to a very real extent, that's exactly how we learn to talk. A baby makes a "mmmmm" sound and the grownups go crazy and say claim they're saying mommy. Positive reinforcement makes the baby repeat that sound. Personally, I think that's how the words for mother came to be. M is a really easy sound to make.

That's probably enough digression.

I have no idea what's going on with my mother. She can't hear, she can't speak, and she can only see out of one eye. She's in kidney failure and she's in a-fib and she's not eating. But she's happy when I bring her sprigs of lavender and she has things to say, even if no-one can understand her.

*Steve Allen
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"If That Was A Nod, Nod."*

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The first time she slept the whole time. I put my hand on her back, against her skin, and watched TV for an hour. Then I left.

The second time I took a Dilly Bar—a butterscotch Dilly Bar. I didn't even know there was such a thing and I bought them by mistake. But she liked them so I took her one.

This time she was awake, her dinner sitting untouched on the table. But the Dilly Bar made her smile and she took several bites of it before she gave it back to me. I flushed the ice cream and threw away the stick. I took her some wet paper towels to wipe her face and hands and she was very offended when I tried to do it for her. She did a fine job of doing it herself.

I'd brought a book with me, in case she was asleep again. But she assumed it was for her and took it with pleasure, looking at the spot where my bookmark was and paging through it. But it was like with the rosary: she remembered this was a thing that made her happy, but she didn't really engage with it. But I left it with her.

She talked to me a lot, by which I mean she earnestly made sounds I couldn't understand. I tried to say things that might soothe her or be responsive or something, but I failed. I told her I loved her several times, but I have no idea if she heard me or understood me or anything. We spent a lot of time making what seemed like very intense eye contact. Finally she made a shooing motion at me. I asked if she wanted me to leave and she made what I thought were affirmative sounds. I told her I'd be back tomorrow and I left.

I think she's in there but she can't get out and we can only get in through tiny cracks. It makes me wonder if she should be DNR, if they should be working with her to help her communicate.

But she was DNR before all this; she's been DNR for a while now. And no-one but me seems to get just how deaf she is. She fakes it really well, but I know from my own attempts at talking loud enough just how hard this really is. It takes a patience most people don't have the time for and her faking it makes it even harder.

She's ready. At least, she's been telling me for some time that she's ready and if I can't take her at her word, I don't know how I can make any decisions at all. So I believe her and I follow through.

This all makes me think of my old cat, Mimi. She's apparently had a stroke in the night and was compulsively turning in a circle as thought trying to see her own butt. We took her to the vet where she acted perfectly normal and made me look like an idiot. But she still died not long after.

*Adrian Monk


Friday, 3 June 2016 11:18 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
Who Else Loves You Enough To Send You Notes Written On Cats?*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Wednesday, I went to visit my mother. With me I took her fuzzy pink blanket, her rosary, and the Humphrey Bogart bag.

In the late seventies, Humphrey Bogart was very hot. You could buy things with his picture on them, and Pat bought a canvas bag. She had it when I met her.

When my mother was in the hospital with her broken leg, I gathered up the things she wanted and took them in the Humphrey Bogart bag. After that, Humphrey became my mother's companion whenever she was living away from home. She wasn't all that crazy about him as an actor, but she was very fond of him as a companion.

My mother was happy to see her fuzzy pink blanket; with some help, she spread it over her legs. She was happy to see her rosary and she fingered it earnestly the whole time I was there, moving her lips. But she wasn't saying the rosary. Maybe only a Catholic school girl would be able to tell the difference, but it was like watching someone turning the pages of a book, knowing they weren't actually reading: you can just tell. It was what I was expecting. I didn't bring the rosary for her to pray with; I brought it because she's told me how much she likes it, the way it feels in her fingers. I brought it for the same reason as the blanket: sensual comfort.

I was more hopeful with Humphrey, but she didn't recognize him. I brought him home again.

Yesterday evening, I went to visit my mother.

She was making an "Rrrr-rrrr" sound, very agitated, when I came into the room. They were restraining her wrists. She had been pulling out her IV and peeling off her heart monitor stickers. She's been in a-fib the whole time she's been there and they're giving her something for it, so she really needs to keep that IV in.

If you're going to read the next part, please read it through to the end.

Listening to my mother making frightened, pain-filled sounds, seeing her uncomprehending eyes, my heart broke. There is nothing in the world that hurts me like an animal in pain and not knowing how or why. For most people who react strongly to animals in pain it seems to be their innocence that's the big thing. For me it's the incomprehension that tears me up, that helplessness that comes from not knowing why you hurt. More than anything my mother seemed like a good old dog, hurting and abandoned and not knowing why this had happened to her.

There are people who would be appalled that I just compared my mother to a dog. But I don't consider humans better than animals. And I know my mother wouldn't be offended by it.

My aunt Shirley once asked if my mother wasn't worried about me being the one to make her end-of-life decisions and my mother said, "If she treats me half as well as she does her cats, I'll be fine." I got my value of animal life from my mother.

Today I just came home from work. My mother has been moved back to the rehab place she was in before, this time for something called Comfort Care. It's not rehab. She's not going to get better. Possibly she'll be moved back to the hospital. She won't be coming home.

I don't know how I feel.

*Jenny Lawson

Stroke of wings

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 04:11 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When I found her, she was in a cage
smaller even than the one she had accustomed herself to.
Lead weights entrapped her fragile ankles and chicken wire bound her broken wings—
but still, somehow, she had fluttered to the window
where she perched, looking out with wide, enraptured eyes.

Years before, the sun had burned away all but the voices in her head; now
the moon had stolen her voice.

She would never sing again.

She didn't know me anymore
but the lovely summer day outside enchanted her.

An entire solar system couldn't take that from her.

Perhaps, in her own mind, she flew.

A memorable Memorial

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 03:33 am
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"Through The Mouth And The Nose. The Usual Method, In Fact. God Gave Us These Orifices To Breathe Through, And Who Am I To Condemn Him? I Think You Can't Breathe Through Anything Else. If You Start Breathing Through Your Ears, You Can't Hear Yourself Speak For The Rushing Of The Wind."*

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After three days of doing pretty much nothing, I decided to try accomplish something today. So I went over to my mother's house and did some laundry.

I got four loads done altogether. I finished the last one around eight. I took it and hung it up, then went back over to lock up.

Once the basement was locked, I went upstairs to let my mother know. She was sitting in the chair by the TV, alternately looking out the window and looking in the mirror. She didn't look at me when I spoke to her.

I sat down and tried to get her attention, but she didn't seem to know I was there. I touched her hand and she realized I was there, but she didn't say anything.

By that time I was scared to death. I called 911 and told them I thought my mother was having a stroke.

The firemen came first, then the paramedics. They had as much luck getting my mother to talk as I had. I gave them all the information, then rode in the ambulance to the hospital.

Everyone was nice. I told them about my mother's stroke in October, I assured them that the last time I saw her—around one in the afternoon—she was fine, and by fine I meant the way she's been since October. Yes, she was talking. Since she started losing her hearing, her philosophy has been that she doesn't have to listen to other people anymore, she can do the talking.

Her heart was doing things—she was in afib. I held her hand for a while. They took her for a cat scan.

I waited for five hours, having a panic attack the whole time. Finally, around one thirty, I asked if I could go home.

My cellphone had died—that is, the battery. The phone itself is dying too. Since I'd ridden there in the ambulance, I had to take a cab home. Except for driving to the wrong entrance (the professional building instead of the ER), it was fine. I got home and called Meg, who came bounding into the house. Now he's laying next to me, occasionally mouthing my wrist. My panic attack is abating. I'll be going to bed soon.

I don't know what's going on. I don't know what to hope for.

*Sir Arthur Steeb-Greebling
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"I Have Been Asked To Tell You That Your Cries Of Anguish Are Keeping The Whole Neighborhood Awake!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Monday night, my mother called to tell me she had a sore throat and wanted to go to the doctor the next day.

So, Tuesday morning I made her an appointment at a medcheck place. They did a strep culture on her, but she had no fever and the culture came back negative. They diagnosed allergy and gave her a prescription for a nasal spray. She enjoyed going to the doctor and talking to them.

After that, she wanted to go to to Fazolli's and pick up spaghetti. That was going fine until it wasn't; suddenly it was all too much for her and we had to go home. Of course it wasn't that easy; it took a few minutes for them to give us the food we'd paid for, and I had to actually drive home.

Once we got there, she had a hard time getting out of the car, and I was almost thinking she'd had another stroke. I asked if she wanted to go to the hospital, but no, she wanted to go into her house. Instead of her walker, I'd gotten her wheelchair and I wheeled her to the steps. (She refuses to have a ramp.) She made it up the steps and into the house, utterly exhausted. I went to work, wondering if I was doing the right thing, leaving her alone, not arguing about the hospital.

Yesterday evening, she called to have me come over because she'd fallen. One problem we have is that the wheelchair slips on the hardwood floors. (I'm going to get some rubber mats.) I don't know if that's what happened, but she seemed fine, she was herself. I got her settled in bed and came home and felt awful because everything is my responsibility and I never know what to do and she won't listen to me.

This morning, before I left for work, she called again. She was trepidatious about getting herself to the bathroom and wanted me to come over and watch her. I got dressed, went over, and watched her get herself to and from the bathroom and took her a bottle of water. She didn't want any food.

This evening, she called for me to come and watch her go to the bathroom again. After that, she wheeled herself into the dining room where her chair is. She was in good spirits, except for crying about Grandma and how hard the end of her life was. I got her a Boost and some more water. She didn't want anything to eat.

I can't make her eat.

I can't make her do anything. I can try to persuade her, but she listens to me even less than she used to.

She tells me pretty much every time we talk that this has been going on too long, that she's ready to go. I'm already mourning.

*Linus Van Pelt

Three random things

Friday, 20 May 2016 11:14 pm
carose59: crime and other violations (i read the news today oh boy)
"Yeah, Good News From My HMO. What Do You Think, I Won A Free Colonoscopy?""*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other day at work we had a health evaluation thing that's connected to how much our insurance costs. It consisted of a blood pressure check and a blood test for the standard stuff.

I was expecting a finger stick, but there were needles.

I'm not afraid of needles; I just loathe the whole experience, how hard it is to find a viable vein. I hate how they don't take me seriously when I tell them how hard it is; I hate getting stuck multiple times; I hate how I feel like this is my own fault for being fat.

I was lucky. The phlebotomist was very, very good and got me with one stick. He was also very nice.

The next day I got an email letting me know my results were available.

My numbers weren't anywhere near as bad as I was afraid they'd be. All the bad stuff was too high, of course, but not oh, my God, I'm going to die! bad. This is good, because it means I can do something about it without being paralyzed. That's what happens when the doctor acts like something being a little high is EMERGENCY! CODE RED! First I freeze, then I cry, then I just quit eating until I'm too hungry to think, then I eat whatever I can get fast, which is seldom the best thing. This, I can deal with.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other night I dreamed I was having lunch with Christy.

We were sitting outside at a restaurant in Lansing, Michigan. We were saying goodbye, in a very friendly way. We'd decided not to talk for a while—a few years—but it wasn't the "I'm never speaking to you again" situation that happened in real life. It was nice, but bittersweet. I wish that's how things had really been.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Could somebody explain to me what happened to the word cheeseburger?

I like hamburgers. I do not like cheese on them. It used to be, you could order a hamburger and that's what you'd get. Now, if you're lucky, they ask you if you want cheese on it (which just makes me want to say, "Did I say I wanted a cheeseburger?"). But chances are they don't even ask, because it just comes with the damn cheese and if you don't say you don't want it, that's what you get.

What the hell?

They need to just keep their cheese to themselves unless they're asked for it.

*Adrian Monk
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
Maybe I'd Go To A Hospital Once I Had Things Figured Out A Little Better—I Didn't Want To Confuse People.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I think my "schistosomiasis" is acting up. Or else I'm dying.

In case you haven't read my post about my "schistosomiasis," and before you google it, here's what I'm talking about. There's an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Johnny's getting the flu. Only Les convinces him he has "schistosomiasis" and should see a neurologist. I don't need Les playing mind games with me; my own mind is more than happy to fuck with me. Anyway, when I suspect that's what's going on, I call it my "schistosomiasis" acting up.

I went to the doctor the other day and saw the physician's assistant, who I like more than my doctor. She lets me talk to her, and she likes that I'm an informed patient. I told her my hands feel funny, which we think has to do with the work I've been doing. The PA thinks it's a pinched nerve.

Also, my left side, which—it's always my left side. I don't know why. My left side has always been more troublesome than my right, and now I'm having these spells of feeling more aware of it that I am of my right side. It's a peculiar and disturbing sensation that sounds like it should be the harbinger of something horrible, like a massive stroke or the apocalypse.

I didn't mention that at the doctor's. Honestly, who do you know who you could say something like that to? There's no pain, there's just a peculiar insistence.

And I don't feel good.

And I'm under so much stress, I feel like I should be dead. The last time I felt like this, Pat died. Could there possibly be a connection to the fact that it's spring again?

This is not the first time I've suffered from peculiar, medically-ineffable maladies. This time I don't have to worry about it being my heart, since if my heart begins misbehaving, I'll get a phone call the next day from the pacemaker people. I assume they'll leave a message on my voicemail if I've died during the night.

Since I started this post, I've gone out to lunch with friends and now I feel much better. I don't know if it was the food, the copious amount of water I drank, or just being with nice people and laughing, but it pretty much tells me that it is indeed "schistosomiasis" because anything real wouldn't clear up like this.

*Mark Vonnegut
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"Well, Perhaps You Should Consider That Your Delusion Is That You're Not Delusional."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

On April eleventh, a woman From Alere came out and showed me how to stick my mother's finger and test her Coumadin level. She was very nice and held my hand, which was a mistake. I didn't get the hang of it, but I didn't know it at the time.

The next Monday, I went over to test my mother again. Only I kept getting error codes. I stabbed my mother several times, wasted several of what I had been assured were expensive test strips, and upset the hell out of myself. I didn't get a reading, and finally I went home.

I went back over the next day and did the same thing. I used up six weeks' worth of strips in two days.

I got a call from Alere, asking why I hadn't called in the results. My answer was that I hadn't gotten a reading, that I was having a lot of trouble. The woman I spoke to asked me to elaborate on this, and almost immediately I found out that either she was confused or I had been trained wrong. I was assured that she would talk me through the procedure, and all I could think was, how can I hold the phone and do this at the same time?

(Of course I could use the speaker phone, but that's where my stress level is now. And it wouldn't work anyway, because telling my mother that I was talking on the phone getting instructions would not be enough to shut her up so I could concentrate and hear somebody else talking. She wouldn't stop talking when the first woman was there training me.)

Anyway, I didn't do anything at all except duck their calls.

Until yesterday, when I decided to answer.

I talked to another very nice woman, and I explained everything. I told her my problem was twofold: I can't see what I'm doing, and I can't feel it. I stick her and the blood starts, but I can't see where it's coming from. And since I can't feel it, I just don't know what I'm doing. Oh, and my mother doesn't help.

She isn't unco-operative, but she won't move closer to me, just holds her hand out to a point where I can barely reach it.

And I told her that I'd been avoiding their calls because I cannot do this, and while I have no problem telling them I can't do it, I wasn't up for arguing with someone about how incompetent I am, trying to convince them I'm incompetent. Bad enough to be incompetent without having to argue someone into believing me. Not that they ever believe you, they just think you're a quitter. Anyone can do this, anyone. If you can't do it, it's because you're not trying.

The woman was very nice and said she understood and didn't believe me. And I had to argue with her about it.

Then we moved to the second part of my pathetic life, the part where I have no friends or family who could do this instead of me.

Well, I don't. I can't even imagine who I would ask to come over every week to do this.

The woman was very insistent about all this, and when I said that maybe we just needed to have somebody come and do the testing, she said that was an option, but it would be expensive.

Of course, Alere isn't in the business of sending out nurses, they're in the business of selling home health supplies. So I don't particularly trust what she has to say on the subject.

And now I have to call somebody.

*Dr. Lance Sweets
**Alere Inc. is a global diagnostic device and service provider.

Problems from last July

Thursday, 7 April 2016 05:49 pm
carose59: my mother's family (it seems to absolve us)
"Well, Lucky For Me, I Speak Delusional."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-*

[I wrote this back in July. I don't know why I didn't post it then. I guess everything worked out, since I haven't gotten any more phone calls since. I'm not sure why I'm posting it now, either, since I doubt anyone reading it will be much interested.]

A couple of weeks ago, my uncle had a stroke.

He's doing quite well; they released him after about forty-eight hours. First he (and my aunt) went to my cousin Molly's house, now he (and she) are home. But my uncle still needs someone besides my frail, petite aunt to look after him.

So Patrick's spending the night with them.

Twice now, my aunt (who has dementia) has called my mother to ask her to look out the window to see if Patrick's car is there. The problem is, the bushes are grown up quite a lot, so my mother can't see. So she calls me.

I can't see out either, so I have to get out of bed and actually go outside.

The first time, it was about eleven-thirty, and Patrick had just spoken to his mother at ten-thirty. He doesn't get off work until eleven, and he comes home to feed his cat before going over.

The second time, it was only ten-thirty, so he would still have been at work.

Monday, I talked to my mother about this. I advised telling my aunt that Patrick would be there soon, and offering to talk to her until he arrived. (My aunt finds my mother comforting; she's known my mother since she was seventeen, longer than pretty much anyone except my uncle.) Actually trying to ascertain Patrick's whereabouts is pointless; my aunt is anxious and needs calming down. She doesn't remember the information she's been given, so what difference does it make what the information is?

And, yes, I'm annoyed because my sleep gets interrupted. The inconvenience of getting out of bed is less minor when you're wearing a C-PAP mask. Even answering the phone is complicated. (You start off at a very low pressure and it ramps up as the night passes until you're where you're supposed to be. Stopping and starting means going back to a much lower pressure than you should be on.)

And if I open the front door, Meg assumes it's time to go out and play and has to be herded away from the door and gets cranky and won't come cuddle with me. I need all the cuddling I can get.

Jim Longworth
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
[Written June 9, 2012. Saved with the title Post Today. Never posted.]

"I'm Not Always Depressed, You Know. Every Now And Then I Have A Good Day. It's Between Those 'Nows And Thens' Where I Have All My Trouble!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I knew you were waiting for me to whine and complain, so here I am.

Do you want to know what I had planned for today? My weekly conversation with a dear friend, a graduation party for my cousin's kid (where I had plans to shmooze my godson and his brother about building us a swing), a possible drop-in at the Gay Pride parade (never been to one), and the Unbroken Bones Society's storytelling event tonight.

You know what I think I'm doing as of right now? Sitting around the house watching TV. Because Tuesday night I did something stupid.

I have two fans in my house that I use on a regular basis: one in the living room window, very high powered. I use it as an exhaust fan at night. It's heaven.

In my bedroom, I have another fan in my window. It's a pedestal fan, and it sits at window level. Normally I have it pointing kind of up, so it's just moving air around the room. But Tuesday night, it was pointing pretty much directly at my face. I lay there thinking I really should move it, or turn it off, but I didn't (story of my life), not until late in the night when it was already too late.

I woke up Wednesday morning with a sore throat.

I woke up Thursday morning with a sore throat, a cough, and my sinuses hurting. Strangely, I was in a pretty good mood and went to work and to my appointment with Diane.

I woke up Friday morning with a sore throat, a cough, my sinuses hurting, a headache from hell, feeling like pounded crap, and deep in that horrible despondency that comes with being well and truly sick.

The worst part of yesterday was when I called my mother, the second time.

The first time, she didn't answer the phone. She had called me earlier, told me she was having stomach problems, so I was calling to see how she was.

The second time, she didn't answer the phone because my uncle did. He and my aunt were there to give my mother Communion.

He didn't say anything bad to me, it's just that I sounded like an idiot. And I spent the rest of the day leaking tears and thinking about how they don't like me.

For me, it's all part of being sick.

One kind of amazing thing is that when I'm sick and need a nap, Meg will come in and nap with me. I mean, come in from outside. He's very supportive when I'm sick, very sweet.

I'm better today, at least so far. I can't talk without coughing, which means I can't talk to my mother at all. (Talking to my mother means yelling, and I can't yell, period.) I still have a headache, but I've taken some drugs.

Charlie Brown


Thursday, 3 March 2016 08:12 pm
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"It's Fine, I Take Catnaps Between Calls, I Sleep In My Chair, I'm Actually Sleeping Right Now."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Tuesday, around three thirty, I suddenly started feeling not-at-all well. I held on until four thirty, when it was time to go home. I even managed to go to Wendy's for my mother. Then I came home and spent the evening feeling awful: headachy and dizzy and sick to my stomach, with sick to my stomach the most prominent feature. It was bad enough that I wondered if it might be food poisoning.

I didn't get to bed until after midnight, so before I turned in, I called in sick.

Wednesday was slightly better. I was supposed to take my mother to Coumadin clinic, but after cleaning out the car I was too dizzy to drive. By this time I'd figured out that whatever was wrong with me probably had to do with my sinuses; the nausea was caused by the dizziness which was caused by my sinuses.

Today I got up, feeling as I nearly always do when I'm sick: just fine. It takes a half hour or so for how I really am to catch up with me. By five I'd called in sick again and gone back to bed. (It had snowed, which I wasn't expecting, and there was a prediction of snow and rain in the afternoon. That didn't happen, but by staying home I didn't have to worry about it.)

I got up again about nine thirty and have spent the day watching whatever I came across on youtube including the 1964 TV version of Once Upon a Mattress, a documentary on Match Game and one about Jerry Lewis. My head still hurts and I'm maybe still dizzy, but I am feeling better.

The worst part about being sick isn't feeling lousy, it's trying to figure out why I'm sick and what I should do. Is it something a doctor can help with or should I just sleep as much as I can until I feel well again? Since I don't have a fever and I seem to be improving, I'm going with the sleep option. But there's also tomorrow being Friday to consider. If I don't go to the doctor tomorrow, I'll either have to wait until Monday, or go to an instant care place, which is probably more expensive. You see? Figuring out what to do. Too many variables: how I feel (which changes), what's wrong with me (which I don't really know) and money (which I don't have any of). I hate variables.

*Mike, Home Invasion
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
'Cause It All Comes Out Wrong
Unless I Put It In A Song.
So The Radio Plays,
"I Think I Need A New Heart"
Just For You.
"I Think I Need A New Heart."

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've been listening to the Nero Wolfe series at work, and I'm up to the twenty-third book, Three Men Out. The library doesn't own it, nor do any of the libraries we have a reciprocal borrowing agreement. It's readily available to buy, and I wouldn't mind buying it—it's only eight dollars.

So why is there a problem? Because the only place it's available is iTunes, and neither my iMac nor my MacBook is new enough for it.

So I'm looking at buying a new computer to so I can listen to two books. (There's another book later on that's unavailable any other way—at least, any other way I can find.)

By "a new computer," I mean going to the hock shop down the street and seeing what I can find. The requirements for a PC are more lenient, and they're cheaper and easier to find. But it's still stupid.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The Tommy cat showed up again yesterday. I saw him down the block a few months ago; I thought he had a new home, but now I'm not sure.

He was sitting by my car when I went out to go to my mother's, and he started up the ramp and gave me a little meow. I feel so bad for him; he wants a home and somebody to love him, and I simply cannot do this. I'm committed to Meg, who I'm sure won't accept another cat. The best way for me to get Meg to come when I want him is to talk to Little Cat; he comes and pushes her out of the way. He's my baby. And here's this poor cat who needs a home and love.

Anyway, it's awfully cold, so I made the Tommy a bed. I put an old, soft coat in a plastic box, then I put the box inside an old trash can. I put the whole thing with the opening close to the side of the house to keep out the wind, but with enough space for him to get in.

I sprinkled catnip and dry food on the coat.

And you know what I keep thinking? Some possum's going to find himself a nice bed. How do people who put out these cat beds make sure cats get them? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find Meg curled up there, and how do I keep that from happening? I don't understand how other people's lives work.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Today is the first anniversary of my pacemaker. I'm used to my heart beating hard when I exert myself. It never used to do that, and when it started, it disturbed the hell out of me.

*I Think I Need a New Heart The Magnetic Fields
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
You Can't Have A Light Without A Dark To Stick It In.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother didn't believe—still doesn't believe—that adults should let children win when playing games. (I'm not sure how I feel about that; I imagine there have been studies done, and to have an opinion, I'd want to know what the experts have found. Since I seldom spend time with children, it's really irrelevant to my life, so I'm not going to bother. But it's neither here nor there as far as what I'm about to tell you. So why am I mentioning it? Because if you asked my mother, she would tell you that's what she did.)

So, my mother never let me win when we played games. Achieving victory had to be done with my skill alone, there was no quarter given for age. I don't remember that being an issue for me.

What was an issue was how she behaved when I lost. There was an unkindness, a mocking—an attitude of . . . how foolish I was for even thinking I could win. What I learned was never to let anyone know that winning mattered to me, because the biggest sin was wanting something you couldn't have. I used to cry when I lost, and she thought—she still thinks—it was because I lost. It wasn't; it was because she was making fun of me.

This has left me very conflicted about winning. I like to win, but I also feel bad when I win. I downplay my pleasure because I never want to make anyone feel bad about losing. Isn't the losing enough? Why is it necessary to hurt them too?

When I talk about the way my mother's acting now, people keep saying, "That's not really your mother." Yes, it is.

The fact that I seldom talk seriously about problems with my mother, that I focus on the good stuff, doesn't mean there's never been anything seriously wrong between us, that it's all beer and skittles. I work very hard at making our relationship work—which is fair, because my mother has worked hard at being a good mother. But she is not perfect, and the way she behaves now—sometimes being deliberately unkind to me—is my mother. It's her id, unfettered by ego or superego.

That's one reason this is so hard for me; I know this woman, and I don't like her. She's not a stranger, she's someone I've feared and avoided all my life. Now I have to look after her, and remind myself that I love her.

*Arlo Guthrie

July 2017

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