Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Diet COLA

Since I started receiving my Social Security benefits, I have come to look forward to an increase of my benefits each year. For the first few years, it ran between 2 and 3%. Last year, we received a whopping 5.3% to accommodate the nightmare economy which Governor Bush left us. (As George Carlin pointed out, Bush was never LEGALLY elected president, and therefore didn't deserve the title.) So it was that I expected another increase, at least around 2%, which would have put approximate $16 more in my pocket each month...and instead, I discovered today that everyone on Social Security is getting a 0% increase.

I found this out today because I didn't receive my annual COLA notice. (COLA = Cost Of Living Adjustment.) Seems there's an issue with the address the government has for me. So I called the main number for Social Security, and part of the recording offered an option to simply hear a message about the COLA. I listened to it and was stunned. We're getting nothing.

As usual, the explanation is ridiculously complicated. Somewhere in Washington is a formula that establishes what the COLA will be each year. The base number, which I personally believe is something I think someone just said, "Hey, let's make it this," has dropped from last year. Thus, I suppose we should be thankful the government isn't decreasing the paychecks of those who are retired or disabled.

My issue with this is the fact that I have ranted in the past about how I live beneath poverty level. I am so poor that even Kansas, which has a somewhat better economy than Arizona, is paying for me to receive Medicare, just as Arizona did, and New York before them. So it seems moronic to me that the government would say, "Nah...You don't really need a pay increase, because these imaginary numbers over here say you don't." Really? Because the way I see it, the imaginary numbers you have set up for what you consider poverty level, which is currently $10,830 in the continental United States, with $13,530 for Alaska and $12,460 in Hawaii, are also embarrassingly stupid. I honestly don't know anyone who could live in a small amount of comfort. Heck...The minimum wage set by the government, designed to meet the cost of living, is currently at $7.25/hour. A rough estimate puts that at $15,080 a year. That, my friends, is bottom of the barrel survival, as far as the government is concerned for those that are working for a living. But I, who cannot find and/or keep employment, am expected to live comfortably making $9,600 a year?!?

This is just me ranting, but my belief is that the total annual minimum wage, at $15,080, should be the actual poverty level. And if that's the case, imaginary baseline numbers or no, I should receive an approximate 36% increase just to live IN poverty, and not BENEATH it. And if I'd been cursed with demanding housemates, instead of the great guys I ended up living with, I'd still be here each month, begging for funds to help me LIVE!

As it is, I'm having computer "fun" of late, and am becoming more and more desperate to have a new one built. You see, my computer has started...not starting. When I hit the power button, one of the cooling fans seems to go into overdrive, and nothing else appears to happen. In a moment of panic and frustration, I slapped the side of the tower...and that actually fixed it! Temporarily. It requires the occasional whack every now and again. And despite the fact that I haven't been online with it, due to a lack of proper cables, (which were recently ordered), my computer has also been slowing down.

So...SOMEONE SEND ME $1,000 SO I CAN GET THIS DANGED THING BUILT IN ONE MASSIVE ORDER OF PARTS MY HOUSEMATE CODY WILL ASSEMBLE!...dangit.

*sigh* This whole COLA thing...it's now completely free of a caloric count, as it were. Ever try to live on zero calories? It's alternative name is starvation, and it kills people. So a hearty and sarcastic "thanks" to Social Security for literally nothing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back to "The Suicide Note"

No freaking out! I am not writing A suicide note. I have begun reworking on "THE Suicide Note: Memoirs of an Insulin Dependent Diabetic."

Years ago, I wrote an autobiography under that title. It's about growing up as an insulin dependent diabetic. I was actually proud of this treatise because it explained much of my medical conditions in terms both a layman and a professional could understand. The premise is simple: I have cut years from my life by being a very dumb diabetic in my youth, and one that's none-too-intelligent in the present. To put it to writing and possibly publish it might well save someone the turmoil that I suffer.

But there are problems with the original manuscript. You see, I had a copy of it on my near-ancient laptop. The aforementioned laptop is now dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. I believe I pressed the power button on it a half dozen times yesterday, and it didn't so much as even think about starting up.

Luckily, I had saved a copy of it to a floppy disc. Or...it would be lucky if the disc hadn't mysteriously become corrupt. When I attempted to retrieve it, my desktop actually started making a frightening whining sound from within the tower.

So I start from scratch. And I do so at a less-than-pleasant time for me.

Late Saturday, I blew an emotional fuse. Someone in my home said something to me in just the wrong tone, and some part of my psyche exploded. Now I have been wanting to say little or nothing to anyone around me for fear that, instead of speaking, I will let loose a rant that they don't deserve. That is, they might deserve it a little, but certainly not the yelling that I've been holding back.

It doesn't help that as I was writing this new draft of "The Suicide Note" that I dropped my headphones onto the tower of my computer, and the danged system decided to restart. No worries, as I have it set for auto-save every five minutes. I certainly didn't crank out two new pages in that time, and I also paused to jump on a housemate's computer to look something up online. I'm thinking that it was at least 30 minutes from when I reopened the document to when I dropped the headphones. And in a kind of reverse miracle, my computer managed to save NOTHING!

I was sorely tempted to bury my head in my pillow and scream.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Emotionally Neutral X-mas.

Stu once had a shirt that has a smilie face, except that its mouth was a straight line. Beneath it, it read, "Have a day." And so it was that descriptors vanished when we'd call to wish each other well. Gone were the days of "Happy Birthday," replaced by a call to wish one or the other "a Birthday." And so it is, with a voice set in monotone, that I wish all readers a Christmas. To be more open toward all folk, "Have a Holiday."

Actually, the first thing I'd like to do is apologize to Arguskos. He called to wish me a happy holiday, and he woke me up. I don't even know the hour, as I rolled over and went back to sleep. However, I have an explanation as to why I was so tired. I have managed to reverse my sleep schedule, all because I reacted to my pain meds a couple of nights ago.

From time to time, my pain is so bad that I stretch my use of my pain meds. I try desperately not to do this, as that's something that can lead to all kinds of trouble. Usually, I stick to the maximum of six percocet a day, and that's where I draw the line. If I need to experience some discomfort, so be it. I'm never 100% pain-free anyway. Alas, we've had some weather here. The wind has been howling and powdery snow has been gathering in enormous drifts around the trailer. My pain was so incredible Wednesday night that I grabbed some of the "extra" pills left from several days before and popped them. My stomach didn't appreciate this, and so I was hit with a bout of dizziness and nausea that kept me awake most of that night.

This prompted the insane. I've gotten into the practice of keeping something around for such a side effect. When Wednesday night was over, I was down to only two tablets of "the pink stuff." I needed more, just in case, and it was snowing on Christmas Eve day. And where, in this little town, does anyone go for inexpensive medical needs? Wal-Mart! Can you imagine visiting Wal-Mart on that day, of all days? Well, I convinced Siege to take me, and it was as insane as we feared. I managed a minor miracle, getting in and out, alone, within 10 minutes. Still, the place was CRAZY! Walking with a cane, I was still faster than most people in the store, and was positively thrilled by the numbskulls who would stop in the middle of aisles and just stand there. There didn't even appear lost...they just had nothing to do with their time.

Anywho, I got my meds, a few things to eat through the next couple of days, and Siege and I fled.

So last night, with nothing else to do at the moment, I said, "Hey, Ray...Y'know that Star Trek trilogy you've been reading? Well, I'm very interested in getting started on it." He handed me the books, I retired to my room, and began reading the first book. With the occasional break to snuggle with Nike, I went through 184 pages of the first book...and then went to sleep somewhere around 9:00 AM. Thus, my sleep schedule has gone kablooey!

In other news, I have been engaging a copy of my old Vampyre Blog. I was having so much fun with it until the point where I made an entry that had me sitting there and thinking, Wait...What?!? Where the heck is this story going?!? I fixed that final entry a couple of nights ago, and am considering continuing to write it offline. It feels good to be writing something again. But what I really need is to get my new computer ordered and assembled.

Now there's an issue that's been bothering me. Each month I've been here, I've managed to find a way to spend my monthly income almost to the last penny, even when I no longer have to. I buy this, and I buy that, and I see something I want and grab it without thinking about how this is only slowing me down on getting a new computer assembled. I was even given financial aid by a friend back in September and managed to blow it on things for the house instead of the computer. I need to stop spending the money on crap.

Oh...as my final bit of news, I think my toe is getting better...very, very slowly. It's been feeling extremely uncomfortable less and less, which I take as a good sign. It still bothers me, and the weather certainly isn't helping, but I'm not suffering nearly as much as I was last week.

For now, that is. I break so danged easily, and a certain female Playgrounder suggested that when we meet, she'll end up hugging me to death. That's, ummm...not the only thing I'd like to do with her, but if one must die, I suppose there are worse ways to go. =P

Anyway, that's the latest. I have a few other things on my mind, but I've been desperately trying to keep this blog PG-13 at the most.

All of my "have a Christmas" cracks aside, I want to wish everyone the very best of holidays, with sincere wishes for a happy and healthy New year to come. Be well, my dear friends.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sibling hatred

Well, you folks have certainly heard enough about Stu. Although I'm sure I've mentioned Barry at one point or another, since he's one of the existing labels on this blog, I will once again delve into tales of this unmitigated jackass. Understand, however, that some of what's to be said here is rather unpleasant, especially when I quote him. If racial slurs and the like upset you, stop reading now.

First, let me tell you that my youngest sibling is handsome, physically fit, and has a ton of charisma when dealing with anyone who doesn't know him. If you managed to have the entire lower half of your body amputated, my brother could eventually sell you shoes that cost enough to require a second mortgage on your home. He's that good. There was even a point during his lower-teens where he was juggling three girlfriends, all of whom were VERY pretty, even to the eyes of a young guy four years older than my brother. (Me, you silly people.)

But Barry is a manipulator. The only reason anyone would possibly be in his life is because they are of use to him. If you think you're his friend, think again. He's using you in some way.

Take his years way back in college. Many of his friends went out of town for college, while he landed an education at a private college still on Long Island. To stay in touch with them, Barry got their class schedules. He would purposely wait until he knew they were in class, and that's when he would call and leave a message for them to call back. In this way, he'd only spend a minute on the phone, calling long distance, leaving it to them to return that call and rack up the larger phone bill.

Nice, huh?

Then there was the time when I was dating Perlin, who has that cocoa complexion of someone from Trinidad. I don't remember what precipitated the argument, nor in what context Barry used the exact phrase, but her referred to my girlfriend as "a little sand nigger." I snapped, and we got into a physical fight. As fit as he was, I was also fit, and I was holding my own against him...until I fell backwards, with him on top of me. He crushed my chest, tearing the cartilage in the center of my sternum. I was over a month healing that one, and couldn't take a deep breath if my life depended on it.

Okay...Barry moves on in life and gets a degree in marketing. He takes this degree and obtains a job with Phizer. (Yes, the makers of Viagra.) He becomes one of those people who goes from one doctor's office to another, dropping off samples and plugging the pharmaceuticals they offer. You may not know this, but that job pays startlingly well. In fact, my brother was earning six figures! With this income, he bought a house, which he worked on in his spare time to build an apartment that he could rent out. All was going very well for him, and I was actually proud of my baby brother.

But he didn't like all of the traveling that the job entailed. Flying was the worst of it. (And this was long before 11 September 2001.) So he quit his job and returned to school to become...a teacher. And not just any teacher. He became a special education teacher, which tends to require that something extra from the person taking on such a role.

Now, during my brother's return to college, he started dating a woman who was an assistant district attorney. This is a perfect example of irony, when you take into my brother's past involving various illegal activities. (He was a little hellion back in high school.) The entire thing was a fiasco beyond measure. He managed to get this woman to move in and start paying all of the bills while he spent the entire day at school. Then, upon coming home, he would become upset when dinner wasn't waiting for him on the table.

That's the thing about Barry. If you hang around him long enough, he gives away his true nature. Here was a woman who would work up to 12 hours a day, if necessary, paying all of his expenses, and he was still of a mind that the best place for her was "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen." This, of course, didn't fly well with the girlfriend at all. Thus, Barry came home from school one day to find she had packed and moved out.

Good for her!

Somehow, Barry managed to complete his education, and now, oddly, he can't maintain a job long enough to gain tenure. He lives just off center of Nassau County on Long Island, which means he could be working in any number of schools, including somewhere in Manhattan. Oh, but that won't do for Barry. Oh no! He doesn't want to commute into the city, and specifically said, "I don't wanna work with the niggers." Rather than work, receive a paycheck, and get his bills paid, he would rather struggle, all because of his racial intolerance. And what's so incredibly stupid about it is that NY is desperate for teachers! If he would keep his mouth shut, he'd have a stable income.

But wait! It gets even better! My step-mom has family that works in a school that is specifically geared toward special education. She pulled what strings she could and found a job for Barry. He was fired in two weeks. As I understand it, he opened up his opinionated mouth and upset other staff members. That was that.

Oh...Speaking of my step-mom, Barry was actually angry at her and my father when the two of them got married. Where Stu and I were happy that our Dad found someone with whom he could spend his twilight years, Barry was pissed off, claiming, "She only wants to get part of the family inheritance!" To which everyone sat back and asked, "What inheritance?" Barry, it would seem, thinks there's a great deal of money to be had when my father passes on. Wow, is he wrong. If there was a lot of money lying around, I certainly would have received more than $50 for Hanukkah. Equally as disturbing is the fact that it seems he's waiting for our father to die so he can get paid. While the family has had a somewhat bizarre sense of humor about just that, Barry is apparently quite serious.

Let us not also forget that in early 2001, Barry heard that I was about 15 miles from where he lived, that I was homeless, and he couldn't care less. With an entire house to himself, there was no room for his eldest brother.

Of course, this was payback, I'm sure, for when he was 16. You see, Barry got into drugs in some of the worst ways when he was a teenager. One of his chosen substances was cocaine. He was given a choice: give up the drugs and stay, or continue using drugs and be kicked out. He chose the former, but was caught with drugs in his bloodstream. Thus, he was kicked out. Stu and I were given strict orders not to let him into the house. Stu chose to break with rule when Barry would come around. I refused him entry, enforcing homelessness on him. The difference was that his situation was one he chose, while I had my situation pushed upon me. But he got me back, and how.

Not really. Barry and I have very different outlooks on family. Where he makes every effort to push people away, I am the one who gets pushed out. I am lonely because others are unaccepting of my issues, while Barry is lonely because he's an abusive little jerk.

Over the last year and half, we've had a new problem. Our father moved from FL to NY to live closer to family. He's in an assisted living facility approximately five miles from where Barry lives. As I understand it, Barry called once, and only once. That call was to ask if our father could give him money. My father told him there was no money to be given. And that, my friends, was the last call Barry made to our father. Since dad proved he's of no use to Barry, Barry has no reason to contact him.

This is why Dad wants me to contact Stu. Barry, it would seem, is not really part of the family anymore. And I hear all of this via third parties, because Barry also has no use for me. It hasn't been confirmed, but I have a sense my father has disowned Barry. He thinks he's getting an inheritance when my father passes, but odds are good he's now receiving nothing at all.

And that, dear readers, is my brother Barry. May you never, ever meet him.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A shrug of the shoulders...

I'm somewhat at a loss at the moment. Atop my usual woes, my father landed me with things I just don't need.

Like the fact that my cousin Sheryl gave birth to her second daughter. Well, isn't that great news...except for the fact that I haven't spoken to her, or her mother, in just over nine years. They were the members of my family that made it clear they'd much rather not have me around. So, honestly, I don't know what to do with that information. Nor do I still know what to do with it. Such information simply makes me fume over my family's lack of acceptance.

The week before, my father dropped a similar bombshell. He wants me to call Stu. To say...what? To accomplish...what? Stu's overwhelming gratitude for my running to TN when he was deathly ill was less than acceptable. And since then, he's made no effort whatsoever to contact me. He made demands of me. He was the one who did all of the shouting. And I'M the one who should pick up the phone to re-establish contact?

Perhaps it's because Dad knows I'm the better man, that I am the nice guy who always strives to do the right thing. If I have an argument with someone, I'm the one who'll sit back and think about how *I* might have been wrong, and then open a conversation with an apology.

This time, however, I wasn't wrong in any major way. Perhaps I was slightly wrong in asking him if he was ready to discuss things like a grownup, but that's where my errors end. I made no demands. I asked for a home among family. In turn, I was treated like a potential ATM, shouted at by an overgrown child throwing a fit, and then virtually ignored. It's how I ended up in KS instead of TN, and I can only imagine things being worse had I moved in with Stu and his family.

Brought to my housemates, I asked what they think I should say. The immediate response from Ray was, "Dad wanted me to call you. I called you. Good-bye." Then hang up.

Do I send him an e-mail?

"Hey, Stu...Dad wants us to stay in touch, so...WTF is your problem? Why did you attempt to squeeze me for more than half of my monthly income? Why did you force me to seek a home elsewhere? Why, pray tell, are strangers kinder to me than you?"

I don't think that'll go over well. The thing is, these are the things that are dominating my thoughts. Stu doesn't want to be an adult in any way. But if I talk to him like the overgrown child that he is, he'll pick up on that and become insulted, and probably do more shouting. It's a lose-lose situation for me.

And I honestly have bigger problems at the moment. Yesterday was a day of hellish pain for me. That toe I smashed three times within one hour, several weeks ago...? Well, yesterday it not only hurt like hell, but was red and swollen...to the point where the skin was shining in any light on it, and I feared the skin would break from said swelling. Because the skin was broken at the time, I had a fear of osteomyelitis. That fear just might be becoming a reality. How bad was the pain? Well, I went through FOUR of my morphine tablets, instead of the usual three, and took EIGHT percocets through the day, instead of the maximum of six. (On a good day, I can get by with only four.)

I have enough on my plate. So why, in even my semi-right mind, would I add to my problems by having it out with my brother? "Oh, Rob...It might not be that bad." Wrong! Without even making the call, I can feel my rage boiling, and fear I'll say something that'll set him off. And if I don;t say something, Stu will probably find a reason to be angry.

*sigh* And all of this because my youngest brother, Barry, is an ass beyond the likes of which have been recorded in social history. My father is living approximately five miles from him for over a year and a half, and he has yet to pick up the phone to ask how my father is doing. But I believe I've already spoken of Barry and some of his antics. If I haven't, remind me and I'll tell a few tales.

Meanwhile, I'm frustrated. Since Cody and Ray have acquired a copy of Borderlands, I am going back into that virtual world, where I can shoot guns whose bullets can also set people on fire. Yes, simulated violence...this is the answer that I seek!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just like old times...

I wanted to entitle this "Pussy in Bed," but figured someone might throw a fit for what that might implies. Still, last night was all about exactly that.

Nike came out from under the bed, hopped onto said bed, hung out by my feet for a bit, and growled when I'd pet her. I figured it was a start, and that it'd be a few more days before she stopped growling at me. Then, while I was reading the "Werewolf: Apocalypse" manual, she sauntered over and laid down...on the book.

This was old news for me. Nike tended to want to be close to me when i was living in AZ, and would often plant herself on whatever I was reading. So I adjusted her and the book, to which she only mewled a couple of times, and then we both settled down. I read while she leaned in close to me.

And that was that. For most of the night, Nike stayed by me, either making an attempted to share the pillow, or trying to mold herself to my body. I know she went wandering out of the room at one point, because I heard the door open (it doesn't close properly), so I looked up and saw it had enough room for a cat to sneak out. Then there was a loud hullabaloo as Nike and Jenny clashed...again..., and then she was back in the room, snuggling with papa. =)

Now, this news may be a tad upsetting to one of my readers, aqnd I'm sorry, Arguskos...but the fact is that she knew me for almost five years before I handed her off, and I'm sure it was ultimately comforting to her to know she could comfortably return to old habits.

But then, to give you comfort, something occurred to me the other day, and I thought I should tell you exactly how helpful you've been to little old me.

Remember ages and ages ago, when you and Kat sent me that care package? Well, I'm still working my way through the Q-tips. And the razors...? Well, I finally went out and bought more at the start of this month. Oh...when you came to get Nike, you brought me all of those powdered drink mixes - the ever-yummy and chock-full-of-vitamin-C cran-raspberry mix - and I still have a month or so's worth left. (I have rediscovered a love of diet root beer, so going through the drink mix has taken longer.)

These seem like little things, but when I received them, I was in dire straights. Now that I have room for a few luxuries, albeit very few, one might think that I've forgotten those little things...taken them for granted. I haven't. It sounds silly, but every time I reach for a Q-tip, I'm reminded of your kindness. If ever you start feeling extra down, remember the good, like helping some old, disabled guy as you did, hundreds of miles from where you live.

So...I'm feeling...okay-ish. Nike is adjusting faster than I expected. To be honest, I thought she'd make a nest under the bed and live there for the remainder of her days. No, she's getting used to things, thank goodness. And when it comes to having a friend, Arguskos definitely ranks high on the grand list of people I've met on the net, and turned out to be a quality person. =)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oklahoma and WAR!

Well, folks...I have Nike back. The journey to get her was...ummm...yeah. And, of course, once I got her back here, the war IMMEDIATELY got underway.

First, the trip with Siege. Oh, this was interesting. You see, one can visually tell when one passes over the border between KS and OK. There is no sign that indicates such passage, unless you count the incredible amounts of Subway signs. It seemed that every exit sign indicated a Subway sandwich shop was there. And on either side of the interstate, there was virtually no signs of life. In KS, you see lots of farms, with plenty of cows and such. In OK, there's NOTHING! Thus, we started making comments on the possibility of ending up in the fictional town of Silent Hill, and the idea of Pyramid Head killing us was inviting. We kind of lost it when I commented, "No, not Silent Hill...Silent Subway."

Right. We reach Oklahoma City via I-35, which, without warning, turned into I-40. Let me say that again: WITHOUT WARNING! We had no idea the route had changed, but once we did, Siege got off the interstate. Since we needed gas by then, we pulled off the road altogether and he filled up while I asked directions from someone. It was simple enough. Get on the road we were next to, make a right when we reach a certain street, count the numbers until we reached the one we needed, then follow it down until we find the...SUBWAY! Yes, our designated meeting place was a Subway to start with. This only added to our growing madness.

One of the "wonderful" things about OKC is that the traffic lights are timed like crap. When your light turns green, and you hit the gas to move on, the next light - not far off - starts turning red. This slowed us down considerably. An having missed our turn, we were dreading getting lost any further. But the answer was simple, right? Just make the next turn, and we'll follow the directions from there.

No. That would be FAR too simple. The next street went about 100 feet and then turned into a freakin' parking lot!

Allow me to take a moment to say what's been happening while we were getting lost. Arguskos and I had been calling one another, and he was already waiting for us. He couldn't understand how we'd gotten lost, as he'd picked a relatively simple place to meet. Little did he know that OK was made of Subways. So Siege was ticked that we were running "late," to which I kept telling him we they were early. Now we'd found the parking lot street, and we needed to turn around, and then...

Well, the last thing we expected to see was a horse and buggy. We'd lost it some time before, and Siege was fearful of having one of his psychotic episodes...so what we were seeing didn't help, and he shouted, "Ahhh! Horse!" My response, as calmly as I could make it, which wasn't that calm at all, was, "It's okay...I see it too."

Okay...We finally find the streets we need, start heading where we need to go, and then we had the meeting that I didn't plan at all. I'd hoped we could sit down with Arguskos, his girlfriend, and his friend Kyle...but upon reuniting with Nike and getting her into Siege's car, the lunatic kitty tried climbing into the air vent at the passenger's side feet. All I could see in my mind was Nike climbing into the engine where we couldn't reach her, Siege growing impatient and starting the car, and my cat would become kitty mince meat. Thus, the meeting was far more rushed. "Hi, I'd love to stay, but we gotta go."

It sucked.

Once I'd extracted Nike, I put her in the travel box and covered her with mu jacket to keep her warm. She was far from happy, but there was little else I could do while in the car. And as we left OK City, Siege went on a rant about how the entire place was made of dumb, and we were both vowing to never return if at all possible.

The trip home was made more difficult by me taking my meds a little late. If fact, it was dark by the time I took them, and I'd forgotten to remove a pill from the mix. You see, I take my Xanax mid-day if I'm feeling a lot of stress. I wasn't feeling stress...just the lunacy of OK. Instead of taking the pill out, mostly because I didn't see it in my hand from the pill box I have, I popped a Xanax and rapidly found myself fighting to stay conscious. It was bad.

But we got home, safe and sound, and I got Nike out of the box and SHE...WAS...PISSED! The other cats came to see who the newcomer was, and Nike immediately started growling and hissing. When I moved to quell her, she turned to face me and hissed...in..my...face. Ever have a cat hiss in your face? They don't use breath mints. It was the most G-d awful smell on the planet in that moment in time.

Well, now there was no getting her to head to the kitchen to eat, nor could I show her where the litter box was, as she'd decided the only place to be was under my bed. I surrendered to this fact, and the effects of my meds, and collapsed

...for five hours! By then, Nike had to be hungry, and since she wasn't going to leave my room, I brought her a little food, which she devoured rapidly. I tried to...Well, Argus gave me a bottle of water for her on the trip, although I had no idea how I'd get her to drink from the bottle. Now that I had it, I opened it, poured some water into the cap, and put it down. Nike chose not to drink the water, but decided she wanted to bottle cap, which she carried off under the bed.

And that's where we stand at the moment. Nike is pissed at the world, and I've decided to let instinct do some of the work for me. She'd going to need to eat at some point, and her bowls are in the kitchen. (I made the mistake of giving her a little food in my room last night, but that won't be happening anymore.) I was also able to show her where the litter box is at one point, so that's taken care of. Now I just need to wait for her to get used to her new surroundings.

Here's hoping it's soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid me!

I should know better. After all this time, talking about how easily I break, I really, really, REALLY should know better.

Over the last few days, I managed to assemble am inexpensive computer desk (with some help from those who have stronger hands than I) and rummage around for all of the components for my POS computer. The idea was simple enough: set myself up so I can do things on the computer that don't require Internet access, and won't require me to sit in one of my housemates' rooms. Since my computer can also play DVDs, I can sit in the privacy of my room and watch what I want without asking the guys to stop using the TV in the living room.

Okay...First, there was the grand quest for all of the computer components. As mentioned some time ago, my flatscreen monitor died. Hearing this, Siege dropped by one day with an elderly tube monitor that I could use. Upon finding everything that I needed, I began putting everything together. And it worked...almost. The tower started making a horrible high pitched noise it had never made before, so I took a peek at the diagnostic lights on the back. According to the aforementioned lights, the memory was detected, but there was an error reading it.

I'm not technically minded in any way, but previous experience has taught me where the memory cards are housed. So I opened the computer, removed them, cleaned their slots, and replaced them. When I next turned on the computer, all was well...

Until the monitor died with a pop. This thing was OLD! With it being moved and jostled so much, it's not surprising that it died. And, luckily, Cody happened to know that there was yet another monitor in the house, so he let be use that.

My computer was up and running...FINALLY!

But you have to realize what I'd done to accomplish this. I lifted the tower countless times, moved a heavy monitor almost as much, forced my hands into the guts of a computer to set those memory cards, and, something I failed to mention, took a bad step the day before when I began the initial hunt for pieces. Finally, at last, I was able to sit and play some of the simpler games on my computer...

Only to find out that you truly get what you pay for at Wal-Mart these days. That computer desk cost me $20. Its actual value is $10 at the most. By using my pinky, I could make it wobble once it was assembled. Well, now it housed a heavy monitor, which makes it move even more precariously. Blessedly, it has remained standing. I don't know how. When I proclaim it a miracle that it's still standing, I literally mean that G-d is prepetually reaching down from the Heavens and using a finger to keep it where it is.

Another wonderful thing about this desk is that it's very small. VERY small. There's really no room for a keyboard and a mouse, so the keyboard has to kind of hang off one side to fit a mouse pad. Said pad has to be set vertically, not horizontally. And for a computer chair...? Well, I didn't have the funds to waste on a proper computer chair, so I got a padded folding chair instead.

Okay...I was all set. I got the computer up and running, sat down to play a game for a bit...and the sliding tray for the keyboard disengaged from its track and fell on my foot. After cursing softly, I set it right, went back to my game, and the tray disengaged from its track and fell on my foot again. I cursed a little louder, put it back, and returned to my game. Had I learned anything from the last two incidents? Nope. The tray disengaged from its track and fell on my foot AGAIN!

The good news is that I'd finally learned my lesson. That tray needs to be watched. I can't bring it all the way forward or it'll fall on my poor, abused foot.

Now comes the real fun: laundry. I decided that I would change my socks so I could have my newly acquired diabetic socks, four pairs, all clean. And when I saw my right foot, it looks as though something had gotten through my socks and dirtied me up. So I grabbed an alcohol swab to rub whatever it was off, and the pain that came from the two "dirty" sites made me aware that the misstep a couple of days ago, and the falling tray and keyboard yesterday, had in fact injured me. And what has probably stopped these wounds from becoming a real problem is that I recently started taking penicillin for a mild infection in my gums. Now that I'm aware of the wounds on my right foot, I'll be keeping a close eye on them.

The thing that upsets me most is that I should have known better. Perhaps the bad step wasn't enough to indicate a break in my skin. I take bad steps all the time. But when that tray fell, and the keyboard, both heavy enough and with edges sharp enough to cut...Well, I should've taken my sock off immediately and checked. Now if infection sets in, I have no one else to blame but myself.

For the record, I have two breaks. One is on my "useless toe." I had a hammer toe corrected years ago, and the release of the tendon underneath had caused a tendon up top to start pulling the toe upward. I can't feel it or move it, and thus it is a useless toe. The other wound is on the underside of my foot, right along the arch. It really did look like just a line of dirt, and it didn;t do much bleeding. Still...

*sigh* Well, now I guess I get to spend some quality time with my rationally irrational fear of osteomyelitis. If I get it in the toe, it's no big deal. I think I can live without it, as it serves no real purpose. If I get it somewhere in the arch...Well, that will be a real problem...A problem I'd rather not dwell on at this moment. As it is, I'm upset enough with myself over not inspecting my foot during incidents when I could easily have been hurt.

I'm off to do something distracting...or so I hope. Be well, all. Oh...and have a happy Thanksgiving, those who are celebrating it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Instead of sleeping...

Who needs sleep when I can lie awake all night and think, right?

Well, that's not 100% true. I slept for a couple of hours last night. Had a bizarre dream, too. I was back in Phoenix, and it was very important that I get a rare record collection from the ceiling of a closed business near my old apartment complex. Mind you, the "rare records," as in vinyl records, were pinned to the ceiling. Amidst this vital task was a neighbors two daughters who kept knocking on my door and telling me that I had to hurry with the toilet plunger to unclog the pool so they could go swimming. If someone tries to interpret that dream, I have decided that I just don;t wanna know.

So I wake up with a low blood glucose. It's around 7:00 AM. I treat the hypoglycemia, sit on my bed...and decide that now, while everyone is asleep...this would be a good time to start trying to assemble the computer desk I bought weeks ago. I get as far as taking the components out of the box, looking at the instructions, and seeing the first step is to do a little light hammering. All I'd have to do is tap a few pieces into place. The problem with that is the fact that even light taps could shake the entire trailer. There would be no construction.

Right. I'll just lie there and...think of something to write! Good G-d, this will be a funny story to tell. All I need is...a functioning computer. The only computers working in this place belong to my housemates, and they're still asleep.

This is shaping up into a fine day.

With my brain caught on the concept of my housemates, I begin to think about Ray. There are times when he looks at me and just doesn't seem happy...and some part of my thought processes starts to believe he'd be a lot happier without me around. Alternatively, Cody appears to not care one way or the other as to whether I stay or not. And Siege...? Well, Siege has rarely been around. But when he is, I worry. Siege is having some...difficulties...of late, giving me genuine cause to be worried.

Okay...At that stage of my morning, I'm worried. Not just about Siege, but for many whom I've befriended online. I think about this blog, and how I haven't been updating it as often as I once did. There are people and things in my life now. And my only online access occurs when one of my housemates can spare their computer for me. So I start asking myself, "Would I stay in better touch with my Internet friends if my computer was up and running, or would I still be excusing myself because of the different lifestyle I have now?"

The thing is that the only changes to my life at this moment are those that pertain to establishing my presence here in KS. Like the phone call I received a half an hour ago, requesting a bank statement for the local "welfare" office. I went paperless on that thing before I left AZ, so...no, I don't have a bank statement. I'll have to print one up via the ATM, or get the bank to print one. There is a last option, and that's to have the welfare office bring up my account online and print the statement.

But this is my life right now. I'm still new to this place, and still adjusting. For the last five years, I've lived alone, with the exception of Nike...

Speaking of Nike, I'll apparently be getting her back in a couple of weeks. On either December 5th or 6th, Siege and I will head south, while Arguskos heads north, and we'll meet somewhere in between our current residents to exchange the cat. Then the Kitty War of 2009 can begin.

Another thought, and one that's somewhat disappointing, is the fact that I have abandoned NaNoWriMo. I'm at 16,945 words, and I should be at over 33,000. It would take a genuine miracle for me to catch up. As in, G-d comes down from the Heavens, grants deific speed to my hands, and I type so fast that the keyboard smolders. Maybe next year.

Additionally to all of this, I am still trying to adjust to the concept of company almost every night. Steve doesn't drop in on his own; he is often accompanied by others, who sit in the living room and banter. There's usually a lot of laughter, and even more sound effects! Gods above and below! These guys have to make a sound for everything! What's more, it's contagious. I think I make the sounds, too. I haven't had to immitate the Death Star for any reason in decades, and now I'm a planet-destroying machine...or something.

*sigh* Amidst all of this, I am still angry with Stu. He's made no attempt to contact me or make amends. And somewhere in those thoughts filled with ire lies my nephew, not benefiting from the presence of his Uncle Rob. I wanted to be in that kids life, and treat him like the son I will probably never have. I was so looking forward to that particular aspect, and it was shot to pieces by my brother's greed.

Ah, but there's the good news in this whole thing. Since leaving AZ, I haven't come here to plead with the masses for aid. Oh, I've had cause to ask for help...Like my desire to own 300 of the 8 x 2 LEGO blocks, 100 of each color: red, white, and black. According to the LEGO Digital Designer that one can download free, the cost would be close to $100. I don't have that kind of money to spare. I have a computer that needs building, so I can finally log online from my room, and not my housemates' rooms. Still, with the pieces I was able to scrounge from Ray's collection, I've been "working out" daily. I believe it's showing most in my right hand, though I try to occasionally build strictly with my left. I even went as far as to write to LEGO and ask if they'd be willing to help in some way, as this is very much physical therapy for me. They turned me down, stating they answer such requests from organizations, and not individuals.

Ah, well. Life goes on. So much so, that I must bring this post to a close and do something with my day, while there is still a day to do things.

Be well, my friends. Try to remember than many of you - and you know who you are - are never far from my thoughts.

Be we;;.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Magical A'sploding Toe

I think I wrote about this once before...my left big toe. But as a recap, some time ago I had the toenail permanently removed. What followed was an all new exercise in pain. And when I sought treatment for said pain, I was told one of the dumbest things a doctor could instruct a patient to do: "Ignore it."

These days, now that I take pain meds stronger than 10 men, I don't seek more painkillers. Sure, we could probably increase the morphine sulfate I take, making me numb to ever ache known to mankind...but I don't want that. I want answers as to what's hurting, and why. Pointing to my toe and saying it hurts is all well and good to the layman. It lets the doctor know something is wrong. In fact, it wasn't so much the toe as it was the main joint of the great toe. And I wasn't looking for more pain meds. No...I wanted to know what to do to actually FIX it.

"Ignore it."

Well, isn't that just the greatest medical advice ever given? It's soon to be the latest in the treatment of ALL illnesses. Chest pain? Ignore it. Frequent urination? Ignore it. Insomnia? Ignore it. Your brain violently exploded, sending parts of your skull across the room to become embedded in the walls? Ignore it.

But that's what I did. And from time to time, when the main joint of the great toe would ache, I would do my best to dismiss it. Oh, I'd pop a percocet every now and again in an attempt to silence the ache...

Last night, however, the pain entered "a new level of ow," and I ended up taking TWO percocets to get relief. Try to keep in mind that I take the strongest percocets allowed. They're 10/325 tablets, meaning 10 mg. of oxycodone and 325 mg. of Tylenol. Strong stuff. I took one around 1:00 PM, waited an hour in the hopes that would do the trick, and then another come 2:00 PM. Finally...FINALLY...I got some relief. From there, I was in and out of consciousness on my bed, with flashes of pain occasionally bringing me back to the waking world.

It sucked.

What sucks even more is that there's still nothing I can really do about it at this moment in time. I'm still waiting for Medicaid to kick in, which means I can't run off to get x-rays or the like to find out if anything terrible is going on in there. My choices fall into the categories of "ignore it" or "hope it goes away."

So...I just wanted to drop in and gripe about that. I'm off to pray the toe simply "a'splodes." Maybe I'll be done with it then.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Great Kitty War of 2009!

It's coming. I can feel it! In the approximate time of one month, the fur will be flying, and we won't know who won until the dust settles and the blood stops flowing.

I received a call from Arguskos yesterday. It would seem that his rent is going up by close to $100 a month, and his ability to stay where he is will be beyond his financial capacity. Thus, Nike is to be returned to me the first full weekend in December. While I gleefully look forward to my reunion with her, I fear for the well-being of all life under the roof of this trailer.

Nike, in case I failed to mention it, HATES all other animals. She doesn't mind humans at all, regardless of age, size, gender, or any other factor you can think of. But animals...? My neighbor back in AZ, Kim, had a dog that was BIG. I believe her "puppy" had some Rottweiler in him. While the dog showed great interest in coming into my apartment to play with Nike, my cat wanted to kill the dog...that could probably swallow her without chewing.

Alone with her in AZ, I'd witnessed her charge a closed window in an attempt to get at other cats that might stop by to visit. So one has to wonder how she'll react when she comes into a home where there are already THREE other cats. I'm not sure of their ages, but I believe the eldest is Jenny, the middle cat is Lemmy, and the youngest cat is Random. (Yes, "Random.")

Jenny, (Ray's cat), is the boss, or so she thinks. She loves attention from the humans around her, and will climb into a lap if it suits her purposes. She's also a notorious "seat thief." That is, if you leave a spot you've occupied for a while, Jenny is the cat that will run to warm spot you left behind and get comfortable. Upon your return, she will resist being moved if she can, and if she can't, she'll look at you with a face that says, "You are the meanest person I ever met."

Lemmy is supposedly, officially, Siege's cat, and has been terrorized into existing strictly in one area of the trailer. When the other cats are around, especially Jenny, Lemmy tends to hide for fear of whatever kitty repercussions there might be for disobeying "kitty law."

Random...Oh, there's quite a story behind how she became Cody's cat. Here's the abbreviated version: apparently, she was named because she was a living example of a D&D random encounter. People were hanging out on a driveway. They looked down and saw a 99% black cat sitting there...and then noticed that her lower lip was almost entirely ripped away. She was adopted and she healed up nicely. But due to whatever she experienced that hurt her, and the guys' habit of making sudden loud noises, Random has remained a skittish little thing. Being the youngest, she still wants to play like a kitten...but is essentially afraid to.

None of these cats has been declawed, and I have tiny holes in my legs to prove it. Random is the only cat that has not been fixed. And I'll be bringing Nike here to...ummm...Well, she'll probably get her butt kicked. I can only hope she won't be terrorized like Lemmy, and pray she doesn't clamp down with her mouth and start raking the other cats, spilling their innards all over the place. I guess we'll see, eh?

Meanwhile, I'm off to attempt more of "Piece on Earth," my NaNoWriMo project. I'm at 14,118 words, when I should be at around 18,330. I got off to such a good start, with close to 4,000 words written the first day. It was all down hill from there. In fact, as nifty as my idea is, I'm considering dropping out of the competition altogether. Writing 50,000 words in a month may have seemed easy in the beginning, but it's unfortunately starting to feel like work. This is supposed to be fun, not a chore. =(

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Damnit! Now I own a cell phone.

*sigh* I'd been doing SO well. What I'd come to view as a status symbol, the cell phone, had successfully remained a part of other people's lives, and not mine. But several realizations occurred at once, and the need for a phone outweighed my desire to never own one of these things.

First, there was the occasional request to use someone else's phone. "I need to call (insert family or agency name here)." It really wasn't a burden to anyone, but my intermittent need was a reminder of the next point, and that was...

People needed a way to reach me, without my giving out another individual's personal information. Would you like me to give your phone number to the people in my life so they can reach me? How would you like it if you were alone with your significant other, and your phone rang with a call for me? It wasn't fair to my housemates. So a means of communication with the world beyond KS was needed.

Finally, this house isn't set up for a land line. In order for that to happen, I would need the phone company to come here and install all of the hardware needed for such a thing. And it would all have to come out of my wallet. Whatever the cost would have been, it would have been too much. Thus, the concept of using a land line died.

Purely by accident, I found an amazing deal. Wal-Mart finally decided to get in on the whole cell phone gig, and established a network using inexpensive phones and a non-contracted, flat rate. All I have to do is decide how much time I want to buy into each month. There are two options: I could pay $30 and get 1000 minutes of call time, as well as 1000 texts, (which I will probably never use), or I could pay $45 and get UNLIMITED calls and texts. The service also provides an Internet connection, 30 MB of memory, voice command/dialing, and numerous other features that are common to cell phones today. Since I couldn't imagine a need for unlimited, I went with 1000 minutes. Next month, prior to my time running out, I pay another $30, and I'm set for another 30 days.

Oh...Did I mention the phone only cost $40 plus tax? Of course, that was the day I bought it. That same phone seems to have jumped in price, and now costs $70.

So now I have a cell phone, and purely out of necessity. Each day, I attempt to master yet another function of the phone, often turning to my younger housemates or their guests and asking what must seem like silly questions. "I'm trying to set up my 'phone book,' but it's like texting. So, ummm...How does one text?"

I'm a technological moron.

So, the bad news is that I am now the owner of a cell phone. The bad news is that people can finally reach me without having to dial a third party. Those who had my number and want it again, you know how to reach me. And any ladies who wanna call and talk dirty to me...Well, e-mail me and we can negotiate my fees for pleasuring you long distance. =P

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Hugger's Fate

Some of you may remember that a year ago, I ran into problems with my old super group on City of Heroes. Thanks to the folks at NCSoft, my two big main characters were moved, and I began my heroic life online anew.

But what ever happened to the New Paragon Floor Huggers?

Well, from what I can see, the group has come undone. Their forums, which was once a main way of staying in touch, has been all but abandoned. Various messages there state that people are finding less and less time for what was once their favorite game. And, having snuck onto the old server to see where they stood in the top 100 super groups, I noticed that they'd fallen off the list completely.

Not to get all "I'm so great that the universe stops to let me cross the street" on you folks, but it would seem that they managed to kick the guy out who not only FOUNDED the group, but was the glue that held it together.

I was once so proud of that little creation. We were known for numerous reasons. Our uniforms, our players, our friendliness. I was the one that warned them not to become a clique. It's a game, and good games are meant to be played with all the kids on the block, and not just the ones you like the "mostest." Did they listen? Apparently not. In fact, they ignored me to the point of forming a clique within the group. A small group of snobs who believed they were better than me in all ways. When I wanted to invite someone to the group because they were fun to group with just once, others would claim that we required a few more nights of missions with them before they invited anyone. And G-d forbid a young teenager wanted to join. Oh, there were riots with some of the members, especially about the lack of maturity. And when I suggested we could possibly teach younger players a few things - be like mentors - the response boiled down to, "I don't have the inclination to teach anyone anything."

There was a time when I called those people my friends. We certainly had some laughs. Eventually, however, the group became everything I tried to avoid. The game became "work." And they "fired" me. Lo and behold, the group rapidly started coming apart.

Well, as the saying goes, "Karma's a bitch."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Strange...things.

Okay...As mentioned, I'm in Geek Heaven. I got computers to play on, console games to play with, and people who speak the language of RPGs. And amongst the things that seem to be here in abundance is...LEGOS! (These are Ray's, to be precise.) At first, I resisted the containers filled with thousands of pieces. I'm an adult, right? Then, one morning, while everyone else was asleep, I was watching a DVD of something I'd seen before, and the pull of the Legos was too much.

Now, there are some who come to this blog and know the voice I used. It's a voice employed when I talk to cats. Essentially, I turn into a five-year-old, and I've heard several females virtually squeal at how "adorable" the voice is. It was this very voice that I used as Siege walked into the living room and found me futzing with a kid's toy. "I PLAYING LEGOS!" I announced happily, bouncing while seated. With a disappointed shake of the head, Siege simply walked away.

The thing is, after I'd played with the Legos for a couple of hours, I noticed swelling in my hands. Not a lot. Just enough to know that something was going on inside. Due to a lack of pain, it came to me that it might well be something GOOD! Was it possible? Were my hands getting a workout from playing with Legos?

This deserves investigation. Since I can't possibly learn something overnight, I have spend a little time each day, working with pieces I'm fully capable of manipulating with my hands, constructing and deconstructing what I've come to call "Lego blobs." And it seems rather strange that what started as a delving into an activity from my childhood would become a possible kind of physical therapy. o.O

*******************

Allow me to introduce a new character in my life, Steve. There are several things about Steve that I could talk about, but the main aspect of his very being is the capacity to joke ALL the time. When Steve's around, there usually a lot of laughter to be had.

Now, way back in the 80's, I grew up with many people saying, Oh my G-d, it was the funniest thing." The person who said it would then go on to tell an entertaining tale that was either very funny, or a "location joke." (Really...You had to be there.)

Steve works at a used video/electronics store. Just days ago, they bought a game from someone entitled "Jigsaw Madness," which was apparently made for the PS 1. This game apparently requires you to put together a jigsaw puzzle via video graphics. And the inanity of the task was unbelievable to him. Thus, in his greatest "commercial voice," he excitedly announced that Jigsaw Madness was brought to you "from the people who brought you 'Sit There and Breathe!'"

I heard this and lost it completely. Of all the years I spent in my youth hearing about "the funniest thing," now I'd finally heard it. Seriously, I was laughing so har that my face was turning purple and tears were streaming from my eyes. Here it is, days later, and just thinking of what he sand and how he said it, makes me start chuckling all over again. XD

*******************

Anywho, that's all I have at the moment. We are off to another town to look into getting me a "track phone," or Wal-Mart's equivalent of a track phone. From what I'm told, 1000 minutes for $30 whenever I need it it a damn good price. And it's not like I need all of the glorious features a phone can have. I just need to be able to make and receive calls.

Be well, folks.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well, I sometimes write, right?

Honestly, I didn't mean for it to happen. It was an accident!

Living in "Geek Heaven," there are lots of geekish things to watch. Like "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." I was watching the special features on the "director's edition," and there was a segment about achieving peace.

Okay...Premise: world peace is possible.

That's nice, but so what? People have dreamed of world peace for decades, and it hasn't happened. But it's happening in my story. Great, right?

Once upon a time, world peace occurred, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The End!


Ummm...Nope, it doesn't seem that great a story to me. There must be CONFLICT! But who in their right mind would be upset with peace?

Well, how about a military man who's known nothing but the service? His father was in the service. He joined as early as possible. And now...Well, the military is about to become obsolete. How will he handle this change?

What about that happy-go-lucky liberal who has been rallying for peace since she knew what the term "peaceful protest" meant? Her dreams are about to come true. Could she possibly have misgivings about future prospects?

Finally, there's the guy who seemingly couldn't care less. World events have never affected him, and they won't...Right?

I call it science fiction mostly because it occurs in the future. I'm also thinking that America won't be leading the charge for peace. But to be honest...I have no idea what's going to end up in my novel, which is supposed to be written in a month. o.O

But what to call it...? What to call it...?

As I see it, it's about peace, and everyone giving the process a piece of their mind. "Piece of Mind," it is!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Epic faIl!

Check that again, boys and girls. It's actually F-A-I-L. You see, I finally demonstrated what it means for Rob to fall, with a witness who was NOT a total stranger.

I was in Ray's room, just as I am now, sitting at the computer while Siege had basically gotten comfortable on Ray's bed. Since Siege was occupied on the phone with the significant other, I looked into my cup of drink-stuff and thought, Hmmm...I should go get a refill before this cup is completely drained. Thus, with cup in hand, I stood, turned, and started leaving the small, cramped room...and that's when things went awry.

From where I was standing, "all the way to the door," was a distance of three feet. I, personally, can't tell you what happened exactly, but it went something like this: my right big toe snagged the long cord on Ray's mic/headset, impeding my forward motion. My brain was trying to get me to keep walking, while at the same time trying to shake the cord. My left foot, realizing there was a problem, began a kind of hopping in an effort to keep me upright. Meanwhile, gravity didn't care what me or my various body parts were thinking about, and asserted itself. Down I went, all the while trying to make some foolish effort not to drop or overturn the cup filled with stuff that stained everything it touches.

I immediately did that which I usually do: sit there and attempt to assess any immediate damage.

From Siege's phone, which was on speaker, came a voice, "Wow...that sounded bad."

Siege's immediate response was, "I'll call you back," and hung up to come to my aid.

Ray also rushed the length of the trailer to check on my, as my collapse was fairly loud.

I was already cracking wise as I slowly got to my feet. "At least I kept the cup upright." I checked anything on me that hurt immediately, specifically concerned with any breaks in the skin. Cuts and I haven't been on good terms for several years, now. Thankfully, there was nothing to see.

Unfortunately, as time has passed from the fall, I'm starting to feel various pains that are...new. My left hip, for example. I must have done some rotating on it during my feeble attempt at maintaining my balance. I know I twisted my left ankle at one point, just for the fact that I actually fell. The ulcer on the left ankle, while still sealed, aches. I'm also assuming that the numerous muscles in my left leg were stretched in ways they're not accustomed, as they simply don't feel...right. I'm also aware of the fact that I managed to jam my left wrist backward. Go me.

The amazing part is that I failed, once again, to simply trip and fall. One of my post-fall jokes was that it took 10 seconds to actually do the falling. Without any conscious effort, I made every effort to avoid hitting the floor, hurting myself in numerous ways in the process. The result was that I fell anyway.

So...what's my current status now? Well, I got hurt...again...as usual. I don't think I did any serious damage, but various aspects of neuropathy could be hiding that. I'm going to have to wait and see. Whatever the case may be, I'm afraid a few days of rest will be required. That means that for those who come here to check up on me, especially if I seem to vanish from just about everywhere else, shouldn't worry too much. It likely means I'm resting comfortably in bed. And if anything that's SERIOUS occurs, I'll be sure to get the word out.

I just might head for bed right now. First, of course, I'm going to have the halfling rogue I hired to "take 20" on the hall between here and my bedroom. Checking for further traps, and all that. =P

(Oh...completely related to this tale, my "act of klutz" utterly destroyed Ray's mic/headset. On of the ear pieces was ripped off, to the point of actually RIPPING wires apart. I felt so bad that I handed him $10 as part of the replacement cost. *sigh* It's like I plan my path of destruction before embarkation.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A pain in the everything.

Okay...

Doctor's visit? Check!

Pharmacy run? Check?

Difficulties getting my medications in time? Check!

Honestly, I don't understand how some things operate, when their systems are completely screwy. You see, I was handed three prescriptions last Thursday. One for Zocor, one for morphine, and one for percocet. The last two were on the same prescription printout, and I realized that I didn't need the Zocor right away...so I went to the pharmacy on Friday with the expectation of getting just the pain meds. And I would have gotten only the morphine, but both meds were on one paper. Fine. I'll get both.

Well, Ray and I didn't get ourselves moving until late Friday afternoon, and when we got to the pharmacy, there was a problem. "What," you might ask, "was the problem?" Oh, nothing much...except that I'd been handed prescriptions for strong narcotics that had one doctor's name at the top of the sheet, while the nurse practitioner had signed her name to the bottom. This had the pharmacy folk saying, "Wait a minute! This looks mighty fishy." And they flat out told me it looked suspicious, and that they couldn't fill it because of the way it looked. Two different names on a script for narcotics with high street value? I don't blame them!

This brings us back to Ray and I getting a relatively late start on things. There was no one to call to get this fixed. Since the clinic was closed through the weekend, I would have to rely on what percocet I had to get me through. No problem.

Except that I've been getting better at taking percocet. I have people to drive me here and there, now. No more hobbling around the world, searching on my own for one thing or another, when I have others to get me where I need to go. Less pain = less meds. So I was less than pleased to find myself required to take the full amounts I'm permitted daily. And on Sunday, because simply moving around the trailer sometimes hurts, I was forced to take a seventh pill late at night...and even then, I wasn't completely comfortable; I simply refused to take more.

But I made it, and today I got it ironed out. Alas, the wait was TWO HOURS at Wal-Mart, where I went to have them filled. And what's one to do when waiting at Wal-Mart? Wal-crawl, of course! (That's the act of wandering Wal-Mart in the feeble attempt to not buy anything. I failed.) Sure, we went somewhere else for a bit, (and I bought things to brighten Ray's miserable day), but most of those two hours was spent on my feet.

By the time I had the meds and we were on our way home, I was done. I truly wanted to rip off my right leg, including the hip, and just be done with those parts for good. The guys don't know it, but as I popped a morphine for the first time since early Friday, I was struggling not to burst into tears. It was that bad. In fact, it was so bad that I surrendered to the pain and actually took two tablets. Not to worry, though. I get 30 mg. time-release tablets, and they make a 60 mg of the same sort. I was not, in ANY, taking an overdose.)

But that was over an hour ago. Now...? Well, okay...I confess that I'm feeling just a wee bit loopy. And my stomach is a tad upset that I took that double-dose, so I took something to settle it. Other than that, I'm in much better shape.

My current status reminds me of the week prior to my move from NY back to AZ. I landed in the hospital because a variety of circumstances fell into place to cause me to land in the ICU with my diabetes completely out of control. Because of the extreme neuropathy pain I was experiencing, the doctor left a standing order for me to receive diloted via IV every two hours, as needed. I was in a lot of pain, and needed close monitoring because I was on an insulin drip - insulin given steadily through my IV. So I was bad...but not actually dying.

This led to me being allowed to have a phone put in my room so I could call family and friends. It was my calls to Julie that were the most fun, especially when a fresh dose of diloted, four times as strong as morphine, had just been pumped into me.

Julie: Hello?
Me: (completely spacey) Hi, Julie. (high pitched) Wheeeee!
Julie: Oh my. What are you on now?
Me: Diloted. One milligram equals four milligrams of morphine, and they just gave me one milligram through my IV. Wheeee!
Julie: Oh, jeez. You okay?
Me: Oh, I'm great. I love everyone.
Julie: I'm sure you do.
Me: I even love my IV pole. Hello, IV pole. I love you. How was your day?
Julie: (can do little else but giggle)

Silly as that was, I did have one thought that never quite left my head. These narcotics...? I'm sometimes left wondering if they actually combat pain. More often than not, I come away thinking they simply help to make a patient not care that they're in pain. "Yep...It still hurts a lot...but I'm okay with that."

That's kind of how I feel right now. My right leg still hurts...but I'm good. My head's too danged fuzzy to care. Given the option of being in pain and caring about it, or being in pain and not caring, I'll take the latter every time.

I'm off to write poetry to my bottle of root beer. I love my root beer. It's name is Lisa, and we're getting married soon. o.O

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finally, a doctor's visit!

Waiting 45 days for Medicaid to kick in was obviously not an option. So today, finally, at last, I got myself to the local clinic to get myself checked out and receive refills on various prescriptions.

I was there three hours! But at least a few things were done that have laid out my work for me.

My blood sugar was 177. Compared to where it usually is, that was pretty good. They also stunned me by doing a Hemoglobin A1c right there, in the office! The result that most doctors want is a 6.0 (as far as I know). My last was a 10, which is entirely too high. Today, I was a 9.2. Better. MUCH better.

I saw a nurse practitioner, and she examined my feet. My left foot...doesn't look so good. Mind you, she could easily see the damage both feet were experiencing, but my left foot...Well, the left big toe still appeard to be swollen and red; this was what I was told to ignore back in AZ by my new podiatrist. At the clinic, she didn't like it. Then there was the toe next to it. She said it either looks thoroughly infected or broken. How it came to be so is a bit of a mystery, and I simply can't afford to run to specialists to find out. The best I can do right now it keep an eye on it and wait for Medicaid to get started.

Other stats include a BP that was 142 over 80 (a little high due to the pain I'm in), pulse 76, and my weight...oh, my weight...198 lbs. I must start doing something about that, but the NP was quick to agree that with my current meds, I may not be able to do much. My metabolism is being slowed to a crawl.

In short, it sucks to be me.

Honestly, I don't know where I stand on one aspect of the examination. I mean, I'm glad I didn't have to endure countless tests to prove I have one problem or another. On the other hand, all it took was a visual examination for the NP could SEE the damage occurring to my body. The latter has me on the cusp of blowing an emotional fuse...and I think that's what I'm off to do.

I hope the rest of you are working to BE WELL. I'll be here, trying to do the same.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ohhh, that's right! I have a blog!

Sorry I've been MIA, folks. I've been posting on GitP now and again, replying e-mails as necessary...and trying to get my life in working order.

In terms of that last, I paid a visit to the local welfare office. From what I'd been told, it would be a one-day event that got me what I needed, right then and there. Nope. I filled out the forms, dropped them off, and was told they'd be in touch in up to 45 days. Wait...45 days?!? Yep...45 days. So I play the waiting game. While I was there, I made it clear that I was still technically receiving benefits from AZ, to which they claimed I should cancel that; I wouldn't get KS benefits until that happened. I clarified, making sure they understood I was only receiving medical benefits, to which I was told, "Oh...then you should be fine."

Not so fast, Monkey Boy! Within a couple of days, I was staring at a letter from DES saying, "We hear you may have moved from AZ. Please let us know so we can put a stop to your benefits." This comes with the realization that my morphine will run out at the end of this week. Joy.

In other news, Cody, computer geek extraordinaire, has looked inside the guts of my five-year-old Dell and proclaimed it an ancient artifact that could be worth millions to a museum. (I wish!) The original idea was to take what I have and simply upgrade various parts. He jotted down various serial numbers, searched for them online...and discovered that NONE of them could be found any longer. They are so obsolete that information on them is not even worth storing anywhere on the web.

The other realization is that a Dell system is going to demand Dell replacement products at a Dell price. I might find better parts at a lower price, but my resident techie can't put them in because every port and connection in originally made by Dell.

The verdict? Start from scratch. Why? Well, one of my great issues over the years is that the casing for my computer has little ventilation. While running City of Heroes on my system with the case intact would result in the video card overheating, and my screen would go black. Ray and Cody's computers are these neat little boxes, far more squat than what I've ever seen, with plenty of ventilation on all sides. That, all by its lonesome, is reason enough to start from scratch.

Thus, the building begins...in a couple of weeks. The general concept is that I wait until the end of each month to see where I stand in terms of finances before deciding to blow a few hundred dollars on parts. Thanks to my buddy Thanatos, I already have one fifth of the overall cost on hand, but remain leery of blowing the money until I see what's what at the end of the month.

Speaking of money, I have to stop acting like I have loads of that green stuff. Here it is, the 19th of the month, and I have about $400 in the bank. I shock to my mind, I assure you. But I have to stop buying this for the house, and that for the house, and getting the occasional gift for my housemates...It's nice. And it's my way of showing how thankful I am for taking me in like this. At the same time, I am not made of money, and I'll soon be facing that uncovered 20% of doctor visits and meds, once AZ receives my reply that I have, in fact, moved on.

I suppose there's one other thing I should mention...I have registered with www.okcupid.com. As I'm not meeting with a great deal of success in meeting someone offline, I figured I might as well try online...again. As usual, I'm being horrifically honest. But then, it seems unfair to me to start getting to know womeone, start developing feelings for them, then meet, and - SURPRISE! - I show up hobbling on a cane, my gut showing the signs of sitting around for all these years, and have some poor woman screaming for the hills.

I'll try to keep you kids posted on my adventures there. As of today, I sent off one note to a lovely woman in the hopes of breaking the ice. I'm off to see if there's a rejection letter awaiting me.

Be well

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Laughter is the best medicine...sometimes.

Yesterday, I was playing CoH. We were engaged in summoning the giant amoeba, Hamidon, and then destroying it. As time went on, I found myself...not having fun. I was getting irritated at little things, like bad and/or tasteless jokes. And it kept occurring to me, This is a game. It's supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, why are you playing?

And then it came to me...I haven't been taking my psych meds of late. In fact, with the exception of a random dose or two since my arrival in KS, I've basically fallen off them.

It's simple, really. I'd been deceived by life. Ray and Cody are fun guys whom I can chat with for great lengths of time. There's been more laughter in the last couple of weeks than I've had in YEARS, and laughter, in case you didn't know, gets those endorphins pumping.

Endorphins stimulate healing and promote good feelings. Aside from my usual aches and pains, I was feeling so good mentally that I started forgetting more and more to take my psych meds. Well, there's a reason I'm on them. I'm chronically mentally ill. I may FEEL better, but am not ACTUALLY better. Since I awoke to this new issue, I have been taking my meds properly...which is really just a few days ago.

In a way, I almost wish forgetting my psych meds was like forgetting my insulin. When I fail to take the latter, the symptoms come along within a few hours. But psych meds take a long time to take affect, four to six weeks, and take days to wear off, sometimes up to a week. Even then, missed doses of the psych stuff don't have symptoms that I can pick up on immediately. Miss a dose on insulin, and my skin begins to burn...I start running to the rest room frequently...and in a matter of hours, I have labored breathing laced with the sweet and sour taste of acetone, called Kussmaul breathing. (It's a method of the body to release acid from the bloodstream.)

But my psych symptoms? I have to be on the lookout for them, and they can be very sneaky. I mean, I'm having fun in the new place. Lots to discuss. Lots of jokes to be made and laughed at. Lots of amusement to be had by housemates who like to find ways of scaring me. (I know you're reading this, you big meanie-heads!) But as you can see, I was relatively okay with these things, right up until the moment when I was playing my favorite MMO. It was then that I realized certain aspects of my mental illnesses could come out of nowhere to bite me on the existence.

Allow me to exemplify how this could be bad. Let's make the assumption that human beings will, at some point, argue. It happens with everyone, everywhere. The best of friends will argue about something, and I don't mean a fight. No, fighting is when people raise their voices, perhaps even fists, and feelings and bodies get hurt. An argument is one person standing his/her ground on one point, while another person dose the same on another point, and a "heated" discussion ensues. On my meds, this is not an issue. Off my meds...? Well, we can start with my logic, which tends to be off my a few millimeters, and then move on to my feelings becoming easily hurt. Once I blow that mental fuse, the thoughts that come to mind will have no restraints. They hate me. Everyone hates me. The world would be better off without me. And then I am usually overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts...and no one tends to know about it. I shed my tears only when I'm alone, and make an effort not to be heard, and the suicide plotting begins.

I can't risk that. I won't risk that. I made a point of making sure I had psych meds before I left AZ, so I have more than enough to get myself back on them...but it's staying on them that is also important. I can't allow myself to be deceived by good times. I can't rely solely on laughter, no matter how good a medicine it's believed to be.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Housemates and "Housemates"

As some may know, I've lived in boarding houses before. These places will cram as many adults into one room as they can, squeeze as much money as they can from those adults, and serve ONE meal per day, and that's if "board" is included in the whole "room and board" thing. In the last boarding house I lived in, it was purely "fend for yourself," which wasn't easy when you don't even have the income of SSI or SSD.

The thing about a boarding house is that there are a lot of personality types crammed into one place. And that place may appear large at first, until you start jamming all those adults into it.

One example that keeps coming back to my mind is Tony. He was as nice a guy as his mental illnesses would allow. His key problem was that he was hyper-manic, and could talk your ears off all day. If there wasn't something new to discuss, he would drag out old topics to babble away about those. His favorite "old" topic involved finding his Bible, pointing to everything that spoke of "the End of Days," and then referencing all the current events that seemed to point to these prophesized signs. The first thing he would point to is "nation warring against nation," to which I would remind him that nations have been warring against one another for centuries, and Armageddon had yet to occur.

It was...tiresome.

Then there was my roommate...the one who attacked me in my sleep and made PTSD a permanent fixture on my list of issues. I thought I'd seen alcoholism, but I apparently had never seen it at its worst. Here was a guy who would get his SSI check at the start of the month, use the rest of the money to buy cheap vodka, and then be fall down, slip randomly into unconsciousness, and hallucinate regularly kind of drunk. To me, the guy who cares and tries to help when he can, the scariest part was watching his skin and eyes slowly turn yellow during those drinking binges. When the booze was gone, he would be nightmarishly ill for three days, sober up because his finances left him no choice, and then he went back to being a liar and a braggart. If this guy ever spoke the truth to me, I don't know it. And his lies were such a stretch of the imagination that they were simply impossible to believe.

My next boarding house was actually what was commonly known as a "sober house." People had to attend meetings to address their various addictions, be home by a certain time, and take care of other official needs as demanded by the State or the courts. Talk about a place I didn't belong! I'd sit and read the unabridged "Count of Monte Cristo," simply because I could, and they would cring at the over 1200 pages of story and footnotes. I would often wander off to the library, grabbing books or sitting to do research, and they simply didn't understand "that level of geek."

Now...Well, I find myself wondering and worrying over my current living situation. Experience has taught me that once you start living with other human beings, they find ways to get on one another's nerves without even trying. So far, Cody and Ray have been waging a "Nice Guy War" with me.

For example, at this moment, I am on Ray's computer, making this post, and I've turned on the volume to his speakers to listen to stuff. I've also adjusted the seat so I can sit comfortably. And yesterday, I had what could have been the start of a cold, (though I seem to be okay today). I'm bringing all of this into someone else's bedroom, and sometimes leaving without putting things back as I found them. It's not conscious...I just forget. And the paranoid, worrisome part of me wonders when and if this kind of thing will start to grate.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I am being summoned to run off to tend to various errands. Like my old way of life, these guys tend not to supply themselves for weeks at a time, but merely days. So, for the third time since my arrival, we are off to gather our needs.

Be well, my friends. Always be well. =)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Have I found Paradise?

In a word, no. Oh, it's close...but I REALLY want to call a cleaning service and have them give this place the once over. "I get sick if a germ looks at me wrong. STERILIZE THIS PLACE!"

That, however, is about my only complaint. I mean, my new home is "Disabled Guy's Heaven." Console gaming systems, computers, other humans to converse with fairly regularly, as well as humans who offer to actually HELP when I need it. I'm not used to all of this. My brain is racing to catch up with all of the wonderful concepts that have been thrown at it.

As a prime example, there was a discussion about the rent I was to pay. The original deal was for $200, and that was decided months ago. It just never really came up again until I was in the car with Siege. Once I was here, it came up again, and confusion ensued. My new housemates basically told me rent wasn't required because I am dirt poor, and...

Wait a minute. NO RENT?!? That didn't seem right. And the confusion came from Siege, as none of us knew what his plans for the money were. Was it for current living expenses, or future living expenses?

It fell to me to find out from Siege, and catching him for a chat was like trying to catch a housefly with chopsticks. Perhaps Daniel-san could do it in "The Karate Kid" on his first attempt, but we're talking about Mr. Breaks-When-He-Bumps-Into-Furniture here. Siege seems to only be home long enough to shower, say a few words to people, and then he's off, riding the wind to some other destination.

Well, I finally caught him long enough to discuss the confusion, and the response was, "They pay the rent. What they say goes." So I sat down and discussed the matter with one of the other guys.

I should really give their names so we know who the new characters in my life are, shouldn't I? In alphabetical order, so that neither comes to me and asks why I mentioned the other first, we have Cody, and then we have Ray.

It was Ray I chatted with, and what he seemed to want more than anything else in the world was to get his car fixed. Either it needs a new battery, a new alternator, or both. And before any negotiating skills kicked in, (I believe he rolled a one, folks), he said that if I helped him get the car running, my rent would remain at zero. The cost would be somewhere between $50 to $150. Well, since I had $200 on me to pay the rent as originally agreed, I peeled off three fifties and handed them to him. Rent paid...FOREVER!

Okay...Not quite. I grew up in a family-run auto-parts store, and you never get something for nothing. The world just doesn't work like that. Two things immediately come to mind. First, they read this blog. Am I censoring things a bit? Well, virtually pointing and laughing at the fact that Ray "rolled a one" on his haggling check would set up the reply, "Not so much." They've already encountered my ability to become easily confused, with the result that I simply don't lie. To pad things here or offline, and then say something different at another time just makes me look like an idiot. The other thing is that to expect to be in this trailer, using their utilities daily, eating some of their food, and just being around and underfoot while paying NOTHING is wrong on multiple levels.

In a most technical sense, the fee for living here is nothing. That's been established. This is very good for me, as I have no idea what the costs of my meds will be in this State. But when I hear them complain that they don't have money to fulfill a need, you can bet your sweet a$$ that I'll be stepping up and saying, "Guys...This is something you NEED. This is what I do, so tell me what the cost is and let's see what can be done."

And I've already done it. I handed money over for Ray to get his car running, thereby putting a future end to him begging rides from others. While out shopping for food for me, I had them throw a few extra items in the cart to help feed the masses. I also bought that which could be considered "the ultimate gift," a toilet seat!

What else am I getting in this para-paradise? Well, the realization that my computer is an outdated POS whose screen died before I'd even packed it was upsetting...but the guys have offered to build me a new one for far less than the manufactured nonsense on the markets. Let me be clear in that the pricing they initially handed me was OVER the actual cost, but they said around $1000.

Okay...My whole shtick about needs and wants gets hazy when it comes to a computer. It's a "want" because I like to play my games and so on. It's a "need" because, in many cases, it's how I stay in touch with the world. Face it...I would not have a new home if it wasn't for the Internet, nor would I have had all the help I've had over the years. While the line may be blurred, I'm going to call a computer a "need" for the time being, and I just happen to be lodging with a pair of geeks who can slap together an incredible machine for under the cost of what the major manufacturers may ask.

My plan for the new machine? Simple. Wait for the end of the month to roll around, see what I have left, and then dedicate a portion of it to ordering up new parts. If they can work a miracle with my five-year-old Dell, great. If not, we can start from scratch.

Overall, I'm in a much better place emotionally than I have been for a long time. Even better would be stumbling upon a would-be wife as I wander the lands of this place called "Kansas." But I won't hold my breath. For now, I'll take what I have and make the best attempt that I can to live happily ever after.

I'm off to relax and enjoy my new surroundings. Be well, my friends. =)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Move: Part 3

I left off with the scarred pavement, and how I was startled the first time Siege wandered from the chosen lane. It would soon become a common occurrence. Every now and again, just...BRBRBRBRMMMM! Each one was followed by Siege saying, "Sorry." This, of course, added to my running commentary about drivers and their inability to stay in one lane, which now included Siege. Every time HE complained about another vehicle drifting, I got to say things like, "Oh, excuse me, BRBRBRBRMMMM! I had no idea you were perfection behind the wheel." With a smile, Siege would reply, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Okay...we journeyed on, eventually locating local Route 54. It was not long after we got onto this road that Siege experienced one of his hallucinations. There we were, cruising along, when he suddenly pulled on the wheel to avoid...nothing.

Me: You okay?
Siege: Dude...did you not see that bridge?
Me: Ummm...Siege? There was no bridge.
Siege: Are you sure?
Me: Positive. No bridge. Why? What did you see?
Siege: I saw a bridge made of stone with vines hanging down into the road, and I was swerving to avoid them.
Me: Vines...?
Siege: Yes, vines!

No problem. This was simply a symptom, and the best way to get such a thing swiftly dismissed was to talk Siege down from what he'd seen. And I could tell he was feeling better about it when he joked after passing one of those "adopt a highway" signs. "I should call them up...'About the bridge near the junction of I-40 and Route 54...someone really needs to go out there and trim those vines.' They'll have no idea what I'm talking about, but I should do it anyway."

It then became a running gag throughout the trip. I mean, at one point we were staring at the clouds on the horizon in front of us, and he would point, say something like, "Smilie face," and I could easily see it. So I pointed off to the side and said, "Look, a bridge." This would earn me something akin to a death gaze, and then a smile.

Now, I must, MUST, MUST mention something here. We killed a lot of time chatting it up, and part of it was about various RPGs and world building. Siege, it turns out, had invested some time building a D&D world, and as he went deeper and deeper into a description of it, I was absolutely amazed. The world he'd created was incredibly detailed, and the history was amazingly complex. While he worried it was terrible, as most creative folk tend to imagine their original stuff is, I applauded the entire thing. Really, really incredible stuff.

This tale is a little bit scattered. I'm not speaking of everything in the order they happened. But come 11:00 PM, Siege was starting to feel the effects of having been awake for DAYS. I made multiple offers for us to pull over and get a motel room or something to get some decent sleep, but he refused. We would make it back to Kansas without a lengthy stop or die trying. So to combat fatigue, we made one of those restroom stops, and Siege bought an energy drink that tasted to as close to "Liquid Death" as I could imagine. Really...I was allowed to taste the stuff, and thought my life was ending in some horrible way. Meanwhile, Siege is there, smacking his lips like he'd just downed something tasty.

Whatever.

I bought a low calorie energy drink, and we were on out way again...until 3:00 PM. The energy drink had stopped doing its job, so Siege downed the other one he'd bought. An hour later, he came to the realization that the human body has limits, and no matter how much caffeine he ingested, sleep was needed. Thus, we pulled over, parked on the slightly darker side of a convenience store, and rested.

That is, Siege rested. He wanted only a half hour power nap and then we'd be on our way. I decided to play the role of guardian, so I grabbed a book, found a table outside the store, and read for a bit while Siege napped. The idea of only a half hour...? Nuh uh. Not happening, despite his insistence. I let him sleep an hour before waking him up, and even then, he had a hard time rejoining the waking world. First question he asked was, "Where is everyone?" I'm not sure who everyone might've been, so I waited patiently for him to catch up to the world.

Eventually, we were on our way again, with more bridge jokes, complaints that home wasn't arriving sooner, and stops so I could empty my "hummingbird's bladder."

The story is almost over, save for what was going on with my right knee. In part one, I mentioned my need to keep my backpack up front with me. It was at my feet, and so I had my legs spread in such a way as to accommodate it. And as I sat there, I had moments where I was silently praying for death. I was in AGONY! I felt as though I couldn't take enough painkillers, and I was coming close to saying, "Siege, I'm done. We have to find a hospital...NOW."

I'm not sure what inspired me to do so, but I changed my tactics when it came to the bag. Instead of leaving it on the floor, I put it on my lap and straightened my legs. As though I'd been given some wonder drug, the pain started to subside. From that moment on, I was able to endure the trip without having to pop pills at what seemed to be every three hours. The good news about my suffering is that I now have a good idea where the pain is originating from.

I am...home...now. My new housemates have made me feel welcome, and have been as helpful as they can be. I'll have more to report about that another time, but this brings the story of the journey to KS to an end.

Be well, all. =)