Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are you kidneying me?

Some time on Wednesday, a strange thing started up in my back. It was a spasm in the region of my left kidney, and it was annoying. Today, it managed to get worse. When I say it got worse, I mean a powerful spasm actually woke me up.

Somewhat concerned, I called my doctor's office to find out everyone was at lunch. When I got through, I spoke to the nurse who said I should get myself to a hospital...now! The nurse, who is usually the only person I could get through to, said it could be a kidney stone, and if it was blocking up the works, that would mean a lot of trouble. Well, going to the hospital immediately wasn't going to happen. You see, in the process of getting cleaned up for the hospital trip, I took one look at the infected toe on my left foot and thought, That may require a few days of IV antibiotics.

The very idea of landing in a hospital for even a few days is an issue because I need someone to care for Nike. Thus, I had to wait for my only trusted neighbor to come home so I could pass my apartment keys to her.

I was so sure I would be staying that I packed a bag and shaved my arms! "Rob...why would you shave your arms?!?" Because having an IV needle shoved into my arm is nothing to the pain of having it removed and taking a lot of hair with it!

I didn't get to the ER until around 6:30, and it was over an hour before they took me back. I explained what was going on to the doctor, and he ordered tests as well as a few pain meds; it seems my pain meds were wearing off, and the pain was getting pretty bad.

The nurse arrived with those pain meds, and they were weaker than what I normally take at home. I said as much, and further explained that a small shot of morphine would get me to the pain management levels I work with at home. I asked for a mere 3 mg., since my time release tablets at home give me 2.5 mg per hour. Well, she took my request to the doctor, and returned shortly with SIX mg. of morphine.

My theory about morphine is that it doesn't actually remove pain...it just makes you not care you're in pain. So I was in loopy heaven.

It took hours to get me checked out, but the CAT scan revealed nothing in my kidney region. The doctor I saw assumes it's a muscle issue, even though I have no explanation as to why the muscles would be acting up. The blood work showed next to nothing, with just a slight elevation in my white count due to the infection. Despite my saying that osteomyelitis wouldn't be visible on an x-ray yet, they took x-rays, and they showed nothing too.

So...nothing's wrong with me?!?

That's certainly not true, as everyone who saw my toe would either stare in horrified fascination or wince. It apparently looks as painful as it feels. So when the doc returned to discuss my results, he decided to put me on a new antibiotic, Bactrim, which would be more effective than Dicloxacillin. Then he left and the nurse swooped in with two prescriptions.

I stared at them and just had to ask, "Why are there two prescriptions? I thought he was just going to give me antibiotics." Without my even asking, he wrote for Vicodin, which is very similar to the Percocet I already have at home. It's also a weaker dose than what I take, so it's really a bunch of pills I would have to take in triplicate each time to get the same relief. I'd die of Tylenol poisoning before they worked.

By the time the cab Medicare cab arrived, the morphine was wearing off. After hours in the ER, I just wanted to get home. I got my wish, as I had what could only be the rudest cab driver in town. I think blood could have been pouring from my eyes, ears, and nose, and all he'd want to do is get me the heck out of his cab.

And that, my friends, is the end of this evening's adventures. My status: I'm sick, but not nearly sick enough to be hospitalized. Apparently I have to wait until I'm dead before I receive proper, extensive medical care.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ticktickticktickticktick...

Yes, my friends...I'm getting ready to explode. I'm starting to firmly believe that bursting into flames violently enough to take out several city blocks would be better than coping with my life as it is.

Let's start with this pesky toe of mine, shall we? It hurts. It hurts A LOT! You will mentally note that I am already on painkillers so strong that someone should be able to hit me over the head with a bat and I could turn around and casually ask, "Did you need something?" My doctor, however, is of a mind that "it looks good." When he said those words, I managed to imagine him locked in his office, lighting up a crack pipe. Parts beyond the toe hurt, and I'm starting to believe this infection has gone deep. As in osetomyelitis deep.

But that presents a problem. You see, if I actually have a developing case of osteomyelitis, an x-ray won't reveal it until about two or three weeks from now. The only way to confirm it would be to take a bone biopsy, and since no one would know where to get the sample from, that would mean opening my foot wide and looking. That won't be happening any time soon, so I have to wait. I explained to my doc that I'm concerned, but not in panic mode.

When I arrived at my apartment complex, I decided to check my mail. There was a mysterious notice from ACCHS (pronounced "access") waiting for me. The economy has reached the point where the State of Arizona can no longer aid me with Medicare Part D. That is, they will no longer be assisting me with prescription medications. As I read the notice, the thought that kept repeating in my mind was, You have GOT to be kidding me!!! What? Do I not have enough of a problem surviving that I now need an increase in medical expenses? What's next? Are they going to claim I "make too much" and stop paying for my Medicare altogether? I already spend each month BEGGING on a regular basis for help. Now they're going to make me pay for my meds?!?

It's as though I've become a modern day Job.

Thank G-d my Dad took my request as caring and lovingly as he did. I absolutely dread asking my father for money, because it usually ends up with a lengthy speech about how I should leave disability behind and just go back to work, and ends with a "no." Like there are jobs to go to at this point, even if I could work. But I asked Dad for a mere $50 each month, starting next month, and he agreed. I'm praying that will cover my meds, which will now range in co-payments of $1.10 to $6.00 each. At most, the prescriptions I need will only cost me $60. Let's hope I don't have to pay out that much, otherwise my begging will go into overdrive.

Since this day required travel and the like, I'm off to relax a bit. Be well, my faithful followers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Late Review: Superman Returns

In an effort to distract myself from my current woes, such as fretting about this pesky toe of mine, I thought I'd do some creative writing. In this case, I've decided to do what I can to rip apart the travesty that is Superman Returns. If by some chance you haven't seen this movie and intend to do so, you should stop reading now. There will be spoilers that go beyond the spoiled product that was this movie. Much of this is taken from an e-mail I sent ages years ago, but edited to correct some errors, as well as being mostly for those who have seen this embarrassment to the Superman mythos.

For me, the story of this movie begins in the summer of 1976, when I was sent to a camp for diabetics. Mail arrived one day, and a large envelope containing comic books was delivered. Talk about an addiction! I was hooked on comic books ever since. X-Men, Superman, Spider-man, Rom, Micronauts...and numerous others, right into my 20's.

Then, in December of 1978, Superman: The Movie was released. If there was any other way to have an 11-year-old comic book nut experience Nirvana, I don't know it. Upon its release to video tape, I watched it until the tape was worn out. I could recite the movie from start to finish.

When Superman II was released, I was an even happier child. More superpowers on the screen, with Lois Lane finally putting the pieces together and realizing Clark Kent was the Man of Steel. Huzzah!

By the time Superman III was released, even I, at that age, could see that Warner Brothers was trying to rake in as much of their cash cow as they could. You could clearly see the recycled footage edited in, and I found the entire experience silly.

Personally, I don't know what I was thinking when I managed to buy into Superman IV, but I went to see it. Maybe it was the lure of the return of Lex Luthor to the plot. Maybe it was the promise of a supervillain. Whatever it was, I vowed that if there was a Superman V, it would have to go on without me ever seeing it. The franchise had been killed.

Skip ahead to June of 2006 and the release of Superman Returns. Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men movies was on the case, and I expected grand things. I was unfamiliar with Kate Bosworth and Brandon Routh, but Kevin Spacey was sure to include another incredible performance, this time as the brilliant, sarcastic, and diabolical Lex Luthor. I'm not one to rush off to the movies, but we were talking about the renewal of my old comic book addiction. Thus, on its release date, I was sure to catch a matinee.

By the time the end credits started to roll, I'd come to realize Superman hadn't returned...he died years ago, and it seemed numerous people were plotting to make sure he stayed dead.

Allow me to start with Lois Lane, who proves to be so overbearing that it's disturbing. I understand that Clark is supposed to be a "Nervous Nelly," but even the 1978 movie had Clark being semi-assertive when it came to manners. How many times did Kate Bosworth run over Routh's lines? It was as though every scene they had together was designed for him to start speaking and for her to interrupt him! As a result, every time she started to speak, I wanted to reach into the screen, smack her, and shout, "Let the man talk for a minute!"

Investigative reporter Lois Lane can track down an electro-magnetic pulse right down to the residential address where it started, but can't look at Clark and say, "Wait a minute! Superman just showed up, and now you're suddenly here, so...YOU MUST BE SUPERMAN!" I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and let the glasses slide, but not connecting the absence of Superman and Clark? Now you're pushing it.

I know farmland can stretch for miles, but a large ball of fire from the sky has a habit of being seen easily at night. Apparently all witnesses though, "Oh, it's the Kent place. Weird things happen there all the time." Then they dismissed it.

So the next morning, Martha looks out the window and Clark says, "Don't worry. I buried it this morning." That's GREAT, Clark! Did you also manage to clean up everything your returning craft charred when it crashed? And about that large hole in the wheat crop? Were you able to use Kryptonian technology to regrow them? And if you did that, why not help your mom out by growing the crops faster so she sell more and buy a truck that isn't older than fossilize bone? At least give her some money to call a mechanic!

Another thing about this scene was the shot before it. It's what's called an establishing shot. The purpose of this is to let us know where we are. You see them all the time. Perhaps a film will open with a shot of New York, which immediately lets us know what city the movie is in. So here we are, a mailbox with the Kent name on it...and we needed that, because the film will be visiting...no...other......farms.

Talk about nitpicking...I wanna know why Clark wore glasses as a kid. He didn't wear them when he was in high school for the 1978 movie. Did he have a bout of super-myopia as a child? Did it clear up only when he defied gravity? I ask because he seemed rather stunned that he could see after they fell off in the barn.

Oh...And a big "Thank you" to Brian Singer for giving us that wasted bit of film about Clark's childhood. It did NOTHING to forward the story, and left me wondering what the neighbors thought of the Kent kid leaping half a mile above the crops. Three minutes and 14 seconds of uselessness...that's all it was.

We finally have the answer to the mystery, "What if you shot Superman in the eye?" Oh, we knew the answer. But we always wanted to see it, and Singer gave it to us. Man of Steel...Eyes of Steel...Hair of Steel...Etc. So I have to wonder...When the second wing comes off the plane earlier in the movie, and Superman impresses us by smashing through it...Why does he duck his head? Is it because everything but the tip of his nose is invulnerable?

And about those detached wings...It's nice to know Superman is unconcerned where they fall, and that saving Lois remains paramount.

The plane in the ball park...Is Superman too good for cleaning up his messes? Get the people off the plane and then move it to the nearest air force base for forensics analysis. Talk about being super-lazy!

What exactly is it that Supe's did with his heat vision during the shuttle incident? He fired the beams at the MECHANICAL locks and they...just worked suddenly? He didn't cut through them, because the speed with which he did it would just make a straight line with some kind of melting effect. Instead, they detach as they were designed to do.

How is it that Lois's hair was fine after getting battered around the plane like a rubber ball, while everyone else who was locked into their seats looked like victims of such a disaster? (Ladies, you might want to find out what hair spray she's using, because obviously it HOLDS!)

Perry White wonders aloud to his reporters, "Does he still stand for truth, justice...all that stuff." Hey, Brian! As a man that's open about his homosexuality, did you feel a sudden and specific need to be politically correct? "Truth, justice, AND THE AMERICAN WAY" has been a staple of the Superman character for decades. As long as you're beating tradition over the head until it's unconscious, did you want to check its pockets for money, too?

Best use of superpowers ever: to summon a cab. 'Nuff said.

Oh no! Runaway car! No breaks! People will die! Ah, but Superman is there to save the day! And we learn about a NEW power he has. When he picks up a runaway car, its engine automatically shuts off! Is there nothing this man can't do?

Super-abduction: Later in the movie, Superman saves a guy in Metropolis that's falling and puts him gently on the ground. But in Germany, when a news clip shows him rescuing someone, Superman is apparently allowed to fly off with the occasional falling person. My guess is that he's going to add the guy's head to the collection in his private, walk-in freezer in the Fortress of Solitude. It is, after all, a little-known fact that Superman's also a super-psychopath.

Lex Luthor proves to be more than a schemer in this movie. I mean, it seems being a career criminal isn't working out so well for him, so I think he has a great future as a graphic artist making maps!

Ah, little Jason. Cute kid. From what I can tell, he only has superpowers when he's having an asthma attack. Thus, Albuterol proves to be an effective treatment for both respiratory difficulties and superhuman strength. This explains why he couldn't open a door just minutes later. It's his Kryptonite! (Damned inhalers!)

Skill needed to be an especially villainous flunky: piano playing. Remember this if you decide that evil is your desired path. (I have to say, though, I got a kick out of that tattoo on the back of his head.)

The elevator shaft scene...I confess that I loved it. It was better than the blurred thing they did in the 1978 movie when Clark falls out the window and changes clothes. HOWEVER...What we miss is the results of his actions. Like the fact that he has to smash his way out of the elevator AND the building. This destroys the moorings of the elevator, sending it crashing into the building basement. We'll see you in court for damages, Superman.

Something I liked: catching the globe. I loved that Superman took the most direct path - a straight line - to get where he needed to be, smashing his way through a building to get there. Of course, the moment is ruined when the unoriginal line, "Great Caesar's ghost" followed it.

There is one truly cool moment that is unspoiled. Lois, Richard, and little Jason are all trapped inside the pantry of a yacht that has broken in half and has sunk. Lois is unconscious. Richard is gasping for air as the room is mostly filled with water. And then, just in time, a pair of red boots appears on the pantry door's small window, and Superman proceeds to lift the broken boat out by a crossbeam. (I was particularly pleased that he held it by a crossbeam and not something like a piece of wall paneling.) Holding the wreckage aloft with one hand, Superman rips the door off with the other and tells Richard to take his hand. Richard does, and our hero asks if he has Lois and the boy. After a nod from Richard, Superman lets go with the other hand, and you have the visual of him hovering in the air, family rescued, as the half-boat slams into the water again.

Lex Luthor has created a massive island with Kryptonite as one of its main components. When Superman arrives, the island weakens him, and Lex turns into a sociopath. The charm and wit Gene Hackman gave the character decades ago vanishes in an act of violent thuggery and religious symbolism. It was sad to see the death of the character's character like that.

You see, one of the themes throughout this movie that is forced down our throats is that Jor El sent his only son to Earth to be its savior. It's a point handed to us by rehashing lines from the original 1978 movie. The comic book geeks out there know that Jor El sent his son to Earth because his planet was about to blow up, and Earth was the most suitable environment. He didn't send us a savior. Since Bryan Singer has a writing credit on this movie, and since he was the director, I can only assume that he was in on this nonsense. With that information, I highly recommend you keep him away from the New Testament, as he would rewrite it so that Jesus was sent to Earth by G-d because Heaven was about to explode. But to top off what seemed to be merely a verbal message, Lex then stabs Superman in the side with a shard of Kryptonite and snaps the point off inside our hero. "Spear in the Messiah, anyone?"

As "comic book history" has shown, the smallest bit of Kryptonite is deadly to Superman, and we see these effects until he is rescued and gets above the clouds. As rumored, Earth's yellow sun gives him his powers. He charges his "batteries," and then returns to...lift an entire......island? Made of Krptonite?!? Without the use of lead protection?!?!? Now you're not even TRYING to pull the wool over our eyes.

It's bad enough when you can't believe a lie. When you can't believe a fantasy, it's horrific.

The grand climax is over, and the island is tossed into space. It then drags on for another 14 minutes to the end credits, as Superman falls to Earth, seems to die, enters a coma, vanishes from the hospital, breaks into Lois's house, uses lines from the original movie - really...how much can you recycle a 28-year-old film? - while the boy sleeps, and ends with Superman flying toward the global horizon.

In the end, I can't understand what many people saw in this film. Some of the critics said it was at the very least, "good fun." Sorry, but it was "bad fun" at best, and I cannot, to this day, explain how I ended up with a copy of the movie. Maybe it was the hope that it would improve with multiple screenings. Alas, it hasn't. Rumor has it they intend to come out with yet another Superman movie come 2012. If I last that long, I can only hope it will be better than this tripe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toe be or not toe be...

...that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous pain in said toe
Or to take arms and replace the toe with an entirely knew limb...

Leave it to me to take Hamlet out back and beat him senseless. Still, I come bearing news of the toe and what happened at the doctor's office yesterday.

It starts with the nurse, who took my vitals. My temp was 98.4, which is not that unusual, except that I usually hang around the 97.6 range. Still not worth worrying about. My BP was 140 over 90; that was obviously a sign of the stress I was experiencing, as normal for me is 110 over 70. Then I unwrapped the toe, and instead of having to wait for the doctor, she ran to get him.

The doc walked, took one glance at the toe, and said to the nurse, "Wounds always go to the surgery room." He repeated this several times during the transfer of rooms. This must have been his way to berate the nurse, who didn't know when I came back that I was sporting such a wound. Not fair to her, but what am I supposed to do about it? He barely listens to me about me...how can tell him it wasn't the nurse's fault?

The next phase was the doc rattling off orders to another nurse, and my foot was soaked for several minutes in a warm iodine solution.

While that was happening, I explained how I ended up discovering the status of the toe, how I was hit by that smell of rotting cheese when the bandage came off, and how I was terrified this was going to turn into a hospitalization that included taking the toe off. Between the doc, the nurse, and another doctor who just happened to overhear my concerns, I was told my worrying was justified. The toe - surprise, surprise - is VERY infected...but not as hospital stay status. Also, that smell didn't hit us when the new bandage I'd applied came off. My doc also said I was missing one symptom that would indicate the toe needed to come off, and that was red streaks traveling up the foot from the toe.

My toe was air-dried, and a new dressing was put on. I spoke up while the nurse did this, telling her to be sure she didn't put it on too tight. One of the grand things about caring for a diabetic foot wound is putting bandages on too tight. Allow me to explain...Circulation in diabetic extremities decreases over time. When an infection sets in, swelling can choke off the blood supply to the infected area. It's instinct to want to apply a pressure dressing to reduce the swelling, as well as make sure gauze and the like stay in place, but that would further cut off the blood supply. Without blood flowing to the wound, there's no chance of healing, and odds of the extremity literally dying increase.

On to the final step, which was getting prescriptions. Since my morphine sulfate would run out before my next appointment, I got a month supply of those. I would also be running out of Percocet, so I got a 22 day supply of that. (I was told new laws now make it impossible to give me a 30-day supply, which would be 240 tablets. Not that I ever received that many, but 180 tablets is now the legal maximum.) Finally, I was given the most important prescription, Dicloxacillin. This is an antibiotic that attacks infections that would normally be resistant to penicillin and other common antibiotics. I asked the doc if it was stronger than 10 men, and he assured me it was. To show how serious this infection is, I was put on a dose of 500 mg., four times a day.

Now...Some of my recent posts have been about how I'm in emotional crisis. While this toe adventure is terrifying, there are EXTREMELY GOOD SIGNS mixed in that show where my mind is truly set. If I was truly suicidal, I wouldn't care at all. I'd let this infection go until my blood was poisoned and it killed me. You'll also notice the quantity of painkillers. I have these on hand to deal with the aches and pains brought on my diabetes and deteriorating joints. While it crosses my mind to do something stupid with them when I'm at my lowest, I don't so much as look at the bottles. I wouldn't even need the painkillers to do me in; I have insulin, folks. An overdose of insulin would be a relatively fast way to go without ever even noticing.

No...Despite my extreme lows of late, I'm sitting here, doing my best to fight to stay as healthy as I can be. It's a good sign, my friends. As depressed as I've been, I'm still fighting the good fight.

Be well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Now add a drop of terror...

Okay...So I was going to avoid changing the dressing on that toe until the doctor could see it tomorrow. Due to plumbing issues in the apartment above mine, I stepped into my bathroom and ended up soaking my left sock. That meant I had to change the bandage, and fast.

What greeted me when I saw my big toe scared me to tears. The end of the toe is swollen and mostly red, with the exception of some of the skin, which is so white it looks as thought blood hasn't been flowing to it at all. I was also hit with the smell of rotting cheese...a sign that gangrene is setting in.

My immediate thought was to get my ass to a hospital RIGHT NOW! The problem with that is that I've been eating all day, and if I needed surgery, they'd have to wait many hours before they could do anything. On top of that, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Going to the hospital this very moment would make no difference between today and tomorrow, so I'm starting to get ready for the worst.

The worst is that I land in the hospital and need to have the toe removed. That may mean a few days in the hospital as well. I need clothes for that. I have a bag that is mostly packed with what I'll need. My alarm is set for 7:00 AM. I'll wake, rapidly do some laundry, and by the time I'm done, I should be able to call the doctor and tell him I'm coming in right away. I'll bring the bags with me, just in case. And as I head for the doctor's office, I'll stop at a neighbor's place and hand over my apartment keys so someone can care for Nike and collect my mail.

I hope to G-d I don't have to have this toe removed. But for those who follow this blog and worry about me, I thought you should know about this growing emergency.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In and out of crisis

I'm starting to think that I'm staring a psych hospitalization in the eyes. Given a moment where my mind isn't distracted, I find myself dwelling on the numerous things that are terrible in my life. And yesterday was a REALLY bad day on an emotional level.

As reported, I had a toenail removed on Monday. I was instructed to leave the dressing on it for two or three days before changing it. Well, I decided to play it safe and waited four days. No part of me wants to risk infection. The thing is, after experiencing nausea when I saw it Monday, I thought it safest to have someone around when I changed the bandage. With arthritis in my right foot and the pain of the removed toenail on the left, I limped to the neighbors I trusted to call for help if I had any kind of problem. They weren't home.

In short order, I found myself standing around, unsure of what to do. I have no one around to aid me in such matters. The loneliness I experienced was terrible, and the only thing I could think to do was just leave the bandage alone and find something that would occupy my mind.

Upon returning home, I played a computer game for a while, found myself still thinking too much, so I brought up www.hulu.com and watched the pilot episode of Firefly. So many people had made such a fuss over it that I thought it was time to see what the big deal was about. Unfortunately, as the episode came to a close, I realized I needed something from the dollar store. I could get what I needed at the market, but the dollar store is closer, and two bum feet dictate what I'm feeling up to doing.

It's a real adventure going outside my apartment once the sun has gone down. There are all kinds of characters that come out of the shadows around here, from prostitutes to drug dealers. Violence is also a common event around here, and I've been around for some scary events. We had a notorious double homicide occur in our parking lot within four months of my moving in.

What is normally a two-minute walk took five minutes going and five minutes coming back. I passed plenty of characters along the way, and found myself wishing one of them would do me serious harm. Get it out of the way for me. Because in that time during my shambling to the store, I was being consumed by loneliness. The only warm body I have to cuddle with is my cat, and Nike doesn't replace a woman. I also noticed I was in no mood to sing. I usually like to sing softly as I go from one place to another. My love of singing was made apparent when I was 10 years old and I made my first appearance on stage as Young Patrick Dennis in the musical Mame. Last night, I couldn't even bring myself to utter the most depressing tune inside my head, which would be "I've Loved These Days" by Billy Joel.

Things were made worse when I got to the store. The young man behind the counter, Julio, has all that I've dreamed of. He has a wide, a child, and regular employment. We had the following chat while I made my purchase...

Julio: Hey, how's it going, buddy?
*I made a depressed gesture of "I don't know"*
Julio: What's wrong?
Me: You want the truth or the happy lie?
Julio: The truth. Always the truth.
Me: Just coming to realize I'm never going to have the things I want in life.
Julio: Like...?
Me: Like what you have. The wife, the kid, a job...I can't have those things.
Julio: Why not?
Me: Too many things wrong with me. Physical, mental, financial...I'm not a catch for any woman out there who's looking.
Julio: Ahhh, come on. You're a nice guy. I'm sure you can find someone out there.
Me: And that's just it. I'm a nice guy. Women don't want a nice guy. They want someone who can pay the bills, as well as someone who will beat them, cheat on them, or both.
Julio: It's not as bad as that.
Me: I have yet to see otherwise.

On that note, I left, dwelling on the fact that there seemed to be too much truth in what I said. Perhaps not in the "cheating and beating" part of what a woman wants, but the fact that women don't seem to want a nice guy with tons of physical and emotional problems. What's more, I started thinking about this coming July, when I'll turn 42. I've accomplished next to nothing that I wanted to when I was younger, and as the years continue to roll, I realize those dreams will probably never come true. By the time I'd shuffled to the driveway of my apartment complex, the tears had started to flow.

When I arrived home and I sat down in front of my computer, I also realized that I'd forgotten how to "fly." I know...It sounds strange, but there was once a time when I could imagine myself with the superhuman power of flight, and my fear of heights would kick in to make my heart race with a mix of excitement and terror. My imagination seems to have entered a comatose state, and I no longer write because of that.

Then came the surprise...I'd lost track of the date, and when I came online to check my various e-mail accounts, I found myself reminded that today is Valentine's Day. Suddenly the loneliness was like a crushing weight on my shoulders. Every site I went to seemed to be determined to remind me that I have no one special in my life, and probably won't.

When I was a movie theater usher in my late teens, there was a movie to hit theaters, Some Kind of Wonderful. Eric Stoltz has a line in it that became lodged in my brain, and has never been dislodged. "Once you stop believing there's someone out there for you, it's all over." My dreams are fading faster and faster, and one of them is someone who will love me for everything that I am.

For those who read this blog and care so much about me, you should know that I'm on the lookout for signs that I'm in the worst shape possible. I'm not there yet. I have learned to fight the symptoms of my depression instead of succumbing to them completely. I'll get help long before I try to do something foolish. Yes, I'm in a bad way...but I could be infinitely worse.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Excuse me while I become rude...

Welcome to the recession. Things are hard for many, many people. Every day is a hard decision, as people face choices between purchasing one need or another. "Do I fill my vehicle with gas or do I buy food? Well, I need fuel for the vehicle to go buy the food, so I guess I'm splitting what little money I have." (Not me, mind you. I haven't had a vehicle since 1997, and haven't driven since 2000. I no longer have a valid license.) Of course, one could take a bus to the nearest market, but then you have the joy of trying to get $200 of food for your family home on public transportation.

Of late, however, I'm being hit with news of Nadya Suleman, who had six children already, and just gave birth to octuplets. I was basically ignoring this story, right up until I heard Jay Leno make a joke about this woman having established a site for donations to support her family. In an instant, I wanted to find this woman so I could ask her face-to-face, "Exactly how stupid are you?"

I am overwhelmed by the irresponsibility of this woman. As much as a woman might want a large family, my thought on the matter is that you don't have kids you, yourself, can't care for. The concept is absurd to me.

Let's look elsewhere in the world, like toward NY, where my friend Julie lives. She was a single mom of one child. She found a new boyfriend, got pregnant by him, and they made arrangements to move in together, eventually taking on the purchase of a house. Ten days after the baby was born, he was laid off from work. Their lives instantly became very tough. This, however, was not a matter of having a child she couldn't afford. All was well when she became pregnant, and the purchase of the house was a turn for the better. When Joe was laid off, things took a rapid, terrible turn. But what's she supposed to do? She had committed herself in her heart and mind to keep the baby, and now adopting Ruby out would be heartbreaking to the entire family.

Turn your eyes, now, to Arizona, right in my own home, where I wish I could have a child. I have wanted to be a father for decades, but never had a woman make it down the aisle with me to start a family. Julie, as loving and caring about me as she is, was very close to offering to have a baby for me. (Yes, our friendship is that complete.)

Alas, several factors come into play. First, my disabilities. Caring for my cat is sometimes a challenge, and recently asked a neighbor's kids to help me change her litter because of the pain in my feet. Having to care for a child might tax my physical abilities too much. On top of that, I can't afford my life now, as a single adult with no luxuries whatsoever. Sure, I'm still playing City of Heroes lately, but that's because a friend asked for access to my game account and paid for six months of playing time, (which came with a bonus month, allowing me to play for a total of seven months). I don't have a cell phone, (I'm not that important). I don't have cable or satellite TV, (I don't need extra channels of nothing to watch). I make $800 a month, and approximately $535 goes out toward rent and utilities; I'm left with $265 for the rest of the month, which is why my last post included a bit of begging for help. (No one has offered aid as of yet, which is distressing.) As much as I want a child, it's just not smart for me to have one...not as a single parent, anyway.

Back in California, Miss Suleman now has 14 children, has refused to marry the father of all of her kids (according to one source I read, she divorced some guy (the father?) in 2008), and, while able to apparently afford the outstanding costs of in vitro fertilization, requires disability for three of her kids and food stamps. She was already in dire straights before she had these eight babies, and she had them with the intent of keeping them! Did someone fail to tell her that rearing children isn't cheap? And why would someone have to tell her? She should have noticed with the other six, two of which are twins.

Am I missing something here? Is my decidedly male mind incapable of understanding what's going on inside this woman's head? She was already in a financial hole, and she chose to dig it deeper. And now she's asking for money? It seems almost hypocritical of me to be so angry with this woman, but I didn't choose to live beneath poverty; I didn't choose to become disabled. She chose to have eight more babies on top of her six existing children - while single and living with other family members because she can't afford to live alone with her brood - and now she has the audacity to ask people to help!

Sure, Nadya...I'll help. Just give me your address, and I'll send you a list of adoption agencies near you. Somewhere out in the world are responsible adults who can afford to take care of the eight new members of your tribe, and can't have kids of their own. Meanwhile, we'll get a fire marshal to your place to shut down your uterus. It's obviously a health hazard.

I am most distressed over the welfare of these kids. It takes a special kind of stupidity, in my mind, to have more kids when you can't afford the ones you already have. These children are now going to have to fight for the rest of their lives to survive, and at some point their going to look at their mother and wonder why she would do this to them. Her desire for a big family is a selfish one, and they're going to be the ones to pay for her fantasy. Her fantasy, their nightmare.

Even more nightmarish is the idea that she may have had so many kids so she could receive more government aid. To me, such an act is fraud. All alone, I can't afford to eat regular meals. I have to take shortcuts to meet the requirements of my diabetic diet, and the local welfare office seems to be of a mind that I make too much money to receive food stamps. This woman, whose spending for IVF is out of control, will likely receive all kinds of free offers, plenty of donations, and welfare.

Am I selfish for thinking this way? Maybe. But it's definitely time to stop this baby-making machine called Nadya Suleman, if only for the sake of the children. Oh, she claims she won't be having any more. Personally, I'd do my best to make sure of it. Like amputating her body from the solar plexus, down. That idea is not nearly as cruel as some might think. I mean, if she needs to reach a high shelf or cabinet, her kids can form a pyramid and she can crawl up them.

...

Okay. I think I'm done ranting now. My apologies to anyone who finds this post rude, but I'm in a bad way through no design of my own. When I see people purposely setting their children up for a future loaded with hardship, I become angered fairly easily.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The "joys" of being me.

Well, it's been one of those days for me. I woke at 10:00 AM in exceptional pain, so I took the appropriate pills to handle that. While they tend to work in approximately an hour, I waited two to be sure taking a shower wasn't an extra painful experience. It's more than the pain of being on two bum feet for an extended period, but the added joy of neuropathy pain. On top of that, the plumbing in my apartment has been acting odd of late, and on chilly days, the shower tends to produce water that's barely warm. It's usually just cold enough to cause me neuropathy pain when I get in.

Upon getting my act together, I prepared to head for my PCP. It was more than refill time for my meds. Today's medical adventure included the removal of the toenail on my left big toe. Since last removed, it refused to grow back properly. This time it was to be completely removed, nail bed and all. This pesky nail won't be growing back...ever.

But before I headed out, I checked my finances. Joy of joys, I have $54.12 in the bank. The $20 I had in my wallet was spent on the way home on silly things, like food and cat litter.

Thanks to the weather, which includes lots of clouds and rain that's been on and off all day, the trip to the doctor was extra painful, despite the fact that I take painkillers stronger than 10 men. The doc also felt the mysterious urge to show me his work when he was done removing the nail. From that moment, all the way home, right up until now, as I type, I am experiencing nausea from the sight.

While I was there, I asked about antibiotics. The doctor said no to the idea, despite the fact that I have a history of getting infections from open wounds easily. I even offered him the opportunity for me to receive an intramuscular shot of Ancef. Nope. Request denied. So while I struggle to keep this thing clean, I fully expect an infection to settle in and make me more miserable than I already am.

Just prior to this little procedure, I reminded him that I need a refill on one of my painkillers. I last filled them on 22 January 2009; it was a quantity of 180 tablets, with a dose of two tablets taken four times a day. That's eight tablets a day. The result is that I had a 22.5 day supply. I will run out on Thursday. Despite the fact that math doesn't lie, the doc seems to think that he gave me a 30 day supply. He told me I should simply take six per day, and my response was, "Sure. I'll just stop being in pain spontaneously." He didn't like me saying that, and as a kind of punishment, wrote a new prescription that was a higher dose, but half the pills per day.

The total of medication I'm currently at is 60 mg. per day. That's of the narcotic component, which is the only thing that's effective against my pains, specifically my neuropathy. Mind you, on my last visit to the doctor, I practically begged him to let me take a non-narcotic for my neuropathy, instead of reaching for these heavy-duty drugs when it acts up. He denied me that request, as well. So now I'm going to have to do with only 40 mg. per day to cope with my pain.

So this has turned into one of those days, where I'm in more pain than usual, with the bonus of nausea because my doctor thought it would be amusing to show me the destroyed toe, more happiness with the doctor as he refused to listen to me when it came to my pain management, (and actually walked away from me while I was talking to him), and the ongoing thought that I know have $54 to get me through until the 3rd of next month.

If not for my amazing friends at GitP, as well as a few select others, I would surrender to the fact that this isn't living; it's existing, which is no fun at all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

...and have a nice day!

It seems that every third of the month, when I have to go out and run my monthly errands, including the paying of my rent, I have some kind of adventure with humans. Today, I ran into an incredibly angry woman, and I believe I made her angrier by being polite.

It starts with the fact that I'd been on my feet for an hour already, and was hobbling along without my cane. The pain I was in resulted in an unsteady gait. Personally, I thought I'd be able to make it without my cane today, as it was fairly warm. In retrospect, I should've brought it with me.

I was off to grab my monthly supplies at Wal-Mart, walking outside the mall, when I had the following encounter. Mind you, this woman started yelling at me as she approached, yelled more when we were side by side, and continued yelling after she'd passed me. I, in turn, kept my tone exceedingly pleasant.

Her: Go sleep it off!
Me: Excuse me?
Her: You're drunk! You're staggering all over the place!
Me: Ma'am, I'm disabled and have a problem with my feet.
Her: You're a lying bum!
Me: Well, I want to thank you for your input. Have a nice day.
Her: (exploding with sarcasm) "Have a nice day!"
Me: (muttering to myself) And thank you for being so unkind and inconsiderate.

She's lucky I vowed long ago to use my powers for good, because the parking lot was full of cars I could've thrown at her.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A small spirit-lifter

Take an act of stupidity, my ability to care, and the blessing of $10, and you get a small miracle.

After asking a neighbor for help so I could grab a few things at the market, said neighbor gave me $10 that I will pay back on the 3rd. Oddly, I always find a way to make a small amount of money go further than it should when I'm out of money. I should really keep such practices through the month.

Anyway, I head off to the market to grab a few things, when someone else that was shopping asked, "What is that?" She was pointing down an aisle, and I went to take a look. The aisle was filled with smoke and the smell of burning...something.

Over the last couple of years, I've become skilled at moving faster by walking on the outside of my right foot, the most troublesome of my extremities. Seeing the smoke, and knowing there was lots of people up near the cash registers, I hustled to find a manager as fast as I could. I didn't know if there was real danger, but I'll sacrifice my comfort for the safety of others in such cases.

Upon finding a manager, (who knows me as a regular shopper), I showed him where the smoke was, and that's where he found the remnants of a smoke bomb. As a reminder, I'm in Phoenix, AZ, and the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl today. It would seem that people can't contain their excitement and must be stupid in public. This was someone's way of celebrating...setting off fireworks inside a market.

The crisis wasn't a crisis, and the manager went back to his business, muttering something about "stupid kids." The way my neighbors behave, I believe it possible that an adult was behind it. I went off to complete my brief shopping spree. (I couldn't find diet root beer for the game. I was sorely disappointed.)

It was when I reached the register that I saw the manager again, and I apologized for the false alarm. "No problem," he said, stepping forward to shake my hand. "I prefer it turning out to be nothing than something serious. In fact, I'm going to give you 10% off for helping out."* That discount let me keep a dollar in my pocket, which will be saved until the 3rd to get me to the bank.

So, as you can see, it literally pays to be a nice guy.

* I wanted to joke with him, but couldn't find him when I was done paying for my purchase. I was going to say, "Well, now that I know there's a reward for such things, I'll have to stock up on smoke bombs."**

** An ongoing coincidence like that is not advised. It's a fast way to get yourself in a lot of trouble.