Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From the Loony Bin: Part 1

I figured I should establish a kind of generic post to let folks know stuff that doesn't stick to only one topic. Thus, "From the Loony Bin" has been created.

This past weekend was rather maddening. Our friend Steve asked to spend the night...and then another night...and then yet another night. I feel for him. I often remind myself of when I had no place to call home, so I don't mind him staying every now and again. Still, three nights in a row? Such a thing only contributes to him not looking for work, as he tends to be up until 5:00 AM, resulting in him sleeping until around 2:00 PM. By then, the day is almost gone, and by the time he's awake and ready to go, it is, in fact, gone.

Add to this a somewhat infrequent visitor, Drew, who is a mere 19 years of age. He wanted to spend the night on Friday, as well. So waking up on Saturday meant finding two guests in the living room.

This wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that these two have no real "inside voice." So 2:30 AM rolled around, and I told everyone in the living room that I was heading for bed. I was on the cup of actually falling asleep when there was a loud bit of laughter from Steve, followed by a loud explanation of what he thought was funny.

Well, knowing that these two clowns wouldn't go to sleep until the sun was ready to start rising, I made sure to be out in the living room and turning on the TV by 11:00, just to hopefully give them a taste of what they dish out. Amazingly, neither was annoyed. I, in turn, would have killed anyone doing such a thing.

Let's add to this the fact that our home is "Social Central." This means that when people debate on where to hang out, it's going to end up being our place and nowhere else. Again, that's nothing terrible, except that the entire crew, residents included, believe that the trash cans are entirely too far away to throw things out. Cans and cups that are almost empty end up littering the floor, and one if them will inevitably get knocked over. The rush to clean it up usually ends with a somewhat incomplete job, leaving an invisible but sticky patch of whatever it was that was spilled.

People constantly being here on the weekend left me exhausted. Come Sunday, I managed to sleep until somewhere around 4:00 PM. A sure sign that I needed rest. But my sleep schedule getting screwed up like that was bad, bad, bad. So I stayed awake, with my latest addiction "Just Cause 2" keeping me awake...until 11:00 PM last night. That's when I took a full Xanax, instead of my usual half-tablet, and headed for bed.

Mind you, I headed for bed to sleep. But I foolishly tried to sit and read a bit. With a book in my lap and the last few swallows of diet root beer in hand, I managed to start dozing sitting up. I promptly woke when the can of soda landed on my foot and spilled. I rapidly mopped that up, then laid down and officially collapsed.

All of this is the stuff that one could capture on film if necessary. What's missing is all of the stuff going on inside my scattered brain. At one point, I typed up an entire post about where I think things will go with Neko. Alas, the entire post was wandering all over the place, most assuredly a result of my being so tired. Thus, I came to no conclusions.

Brilliant.

Meanwhile, in the update department, I still haven't heard from Stu. I called and wished him a belated "Happy New Year" on 6 January, and the stubborn jerk has chosen to make no effort to reply. This only cements my opinion that the only reason he was willing to take me in was because he wanted my money. If it was for the reason he claimed, that being that he actually cared about me, then he'd at least pick up the phone and call.

Ah, but we know how to hold a grudge in my family. When offered an olive branch, most in my family will dowse it in gasoline and set it aflame.

Dad and I talk less of late. And when we do talk, I'm the one picking up the phone.

It's this kind of thing that makes me believe that everyone in my past would much rather sweep me under a carpet and forget I was there. I've spent the last decade trying to make monumental changes in my behavior, such as learning to forgive. helping people instead of kicking them when they're down, and paying compliments instead of nonstop insults. Unfortunately, I'm starting to see that I'm the only one who's made such an effort. Everyone would rather remember the jackass I was when I was younger and stay mad at him.

And here I go, remember "good old days" that weren't always so good. I sometimes wish I could go back and relive those years, doing a great many things differently. But then that's possible for none of us.

I'm off to contemplate my existence a bit. May you all be in better shape than I am at this moment.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Too funny!

On 10 March 2010, I wrote about "just Cause 2," a game that was due for release on 23 March. Well, Cody and Ray bought it the day it came out, and it is being played almost non-stop. It's a great deal of fun to go around in this "open sandbox" format and do that which is your actual assignment: cause chaos.

Now, I felt a little lost without the all of the things I experienced in the demo, so I sought that exact region and started wiping out all of those military bases that had brought me such grief. Okay, that's not true. I was the one to cause grief. The demo only allowed for a half hour of play, which limited the amount of destruction you could bring to this fictional country. I had a favorite spot, where I would acquire a tank, destroy most of the base around it, (but not all), and drive it between the base and a nearby gas station, blowing UP* every soldier that came to attack me.

The game collects various statistic, and one of those was the amount of kills you'd get. Because I was obviously a murderous psychopath on the game, our friend Steve assured me that 200 kills was possible. Given a mission, I set about reaching this goal. As it turned out, I garnered so much attention from the military that they dispatched paratroopers to dispatch me. They were kind enough to land and gather in a nice, tight group...that was easy to obliterate with my tank. >=) According to the stats, I reached a kill count of 209.

So I thought, Fine. I passed 200, surpassed the goal, and will probably never be able to do it again. Lo and behold, the very next round I played produced a count of 212! It was that number I never beat...during the demo, anyway.

So now we have the game, and revenge would be mine! I returned to the desert and wiped out entire military bases filled with soldiers begging to be blown to pieces.

For reasons unknown to me, Steve searched for game cheats this evening, and didn't uncover game-breaking codes...but did uncover the "bubble gun." With such a violent game, one would think it'd be a piece of science fiction weaponry that found its way into the game. Nope. It is a colorful toy gun that releases little soap bubbles that just float in random directions. But standing alone in a field with this...weapon...left us unsure. Thus, Cody sought the nearest military base. The moment he was seen, the soldiers started shouting, weapons were brought to bear, bullets began to fly...and Cody sprayed his opponents with with tiny, drifting bubbles that would vanish the moment they touched anything. Steve and I were hysterical, watching the main character sprinting away, his "gun" aimed behind him, firing soap bubbles.

Other things that were discovered...

A hot air balloon, with two basic directions: up and down.

That which is supposed to be the remnants of flight 815 from the show "Lost." There's even a secret hatch out in the woods. (I never watched the show, so it meant very little to me.)

I missed it, but there something was said about a strip club, (actually a blimp), floating high above the country.

This is just some of the silliness that's been discovered. With luck, there'll be even more to find at a later date. =)

*Thanks, Cody, for the rather late revelation of the missing word. >=P

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beautiful hauntings

So...more and more time has been spent chatting on the phone with Neko, and we've been covering a lot of the usual ground. Family life, work, (or lack thereof), and exes. For Neko, that last conversation doesn't have many choices. She's only in her mid-20's. For me, however, it's a longer list. There was a time when I was far more active in the girlfriend search, and I would come up gold often enough.

One of the things that gets me in both good and bad ways are the memories I have of some of those lovely ladies. (Some weren't so lovely...In fact...Well, maybe I shouldn't say that here. Kids may be watching. =P ) Much of the good entails the actual relationship I had, while the bad revolves mostly around the breakups. Of course, there were a few with whom everything just seemed...wrong.

Take my ex, Eileen. Oh, here was a true winner. I was driving her home one evening, and I had the radio on low enough so we could chat. She hadn't said a word since getting in the car, so I looked over at her a moment and said, "Hmmm...You seem rather pensive." Now, not everyone knows what "pensive" means. If you don't, you could look it up. Or, if used in conversation, you might pause to ask for a definition. On the chance you are unfamiliar with the word, it means "musingly or dreamily thoughtful." That being said, you can only imagine what went through my head as she replied, "No, I'm just thinking."

Of course, I've mentioned Perlin before. (I know this because she's one of the subject tags.) Not sure what I said, but she was the first woman for me to which I was engaged. The problem with that relationship is that I'd mistaken love for lust. That girl was insatiable when it came to bedroom romps. Heck, even that's not appropriate. They were more like "bedroom/living room/bathroom/car/empty playground at midnight/empty classroom at college/all over the empty house your family is moving out of" romps.

Later on, I found out that Perlin had cheated on me with at least three different guys. This news makes me feel much worse for calling her by the wrong name at one point.

Oh, I never told you about that? Well, Perlin and I had been...busy...for a while, I it was yet another session where she'd exhausted me. So I was lying there, slowly losing consciousness, and she was still in a playful mood. She started toying with my hand in some way, which eventually caused me to softly moan, "Mmm...Jackie." Perlin almost killed me.

"Who's Jackie?" I never mentioned Jackie?!? Oh, she was a positively HUGE crush I had back in my early 20's. The thing that stopped me from doing anything with her was the fact that she was dating my friend Mike. This fact didn't stop me from telling her that I was essentially falling in love with her, or spending entirely too many hours alone with her. (We were just talking, folks!) But I was absolutely crazy about her, and my relationship with Perlin was all well and good...but I'd been after Jackie for YEARS at that point.

It didn't help that I spent one evening administering something called "The Purity Test" to both Jackie and a very sexy friend of hers. It's 1,000 questions, and it's almost ENTIRELY about sex. My friends, you have no idea what suffering is when you are alone with two lovely ladies, and you hit the section about same-sex activities...and find out they've done things together! And you just know they were out to make me squirm, because all of those questions require or a no. NONE of them need details...but I received plenty that night!

There are others who've been popping into my head. Julie (whom I've mentioned plenty), Christine (with whom I made a HUGE mistake), Shari (my first kiss), Randy (my first idiot), Jennifer (a "story teller" I've already spoken of with Neko), Amy, (Neko's picture reminds me of her) and, of course, Robin. These don't include some of my high school crushes, like the girl theat ended up forming a friendship between Mush and I, or "the Ice Maiden," who was oh so cute, and about as emotional as a canister of Freon.

Well, I should be on my way. Neko should be calling again soon. G-d, I really need to switch my calling plan to unlimited. This woman is going to eat all of my minutes...and maybe a part of my soul, with them! (I kid, I kid!)

Be well, all.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's about sharing...

So, I have a new friend in my life. She lives a few hundred miles away, maybe even upward of a thousand. We've started talking on the phone, and the "REALLY getting to know you phase" has begun. Because she now has this blog address, I will keep her from blushing furiously by simply calling her Neko.

Until several months ago, she was engaged. Her ex proved to be a selfish idiot, as have her other exes of the past, so she gave up and moved back home with her family.

How Neko and I got on the phone all begins with the fact that I'm male, and any woman who demonstrates even the slightest inclination towards any kind of sex is going to have my attention. Folks, it's been a LONG time. There have been a few failed attempts at the deed, but they were thoroughly unsuccessful. One of those attempts was apparently trying to do an impression of a cadaver, as she just laid there, seemingly deaf to my every word. =/ It all boils down to the fact that there's been no one to do such things with since Robin left me, and we'd become somewhat inactive over the last year.

Neko and I, however, have been doing a lot of flirting since she officially became single. Much more flirting than when she was spoken for, to which I was the one pressing the issue now and again that the conversations were becoming inappropriate. We managed to exchange phone numbers, but neither one was calling the other, probably because of an imagined expectation of adult activities. (Not sure if I ever made the joke with her, but I once said to someone else, "Sure, I've had sex on the phone before. It hurts, and usually leaves an impression against my back...but I've had phone sex." =P )

There's a comedian out there, Gallagher, and during one of his routines, he said, "The moment a woman shows the slightest inclination towards sex, the guy has his pants around his ankles, asking, 'You wanna?' *jerks a thumb over his shoulder* 'It's a commercial!'" That explains a great deal about men, and part of the driving force behind my willingness to finally call Neko. We discussed it online first, and the call was made...

..and there was A LOT of talking. Hours and hours of talking. I pointed her toward this blog, telling her that if she wants to get to know a lot more about me, she can come here to read. But even that doesn't cover all of my life. There's lots to be discussed, especially that which I haven't put in this blog. There are subjects that I don't bring up because, as said before, I'm at least trying to keep this blog PG-13 at the most. On the phone, I can delve into that which is rated R, and if the course of the conversation goes that way, even rated X.

Males and females getting to know one another...Well, it seems to be the habit of many to move the conversation toward the bedroom. Neko and I do it every now and again, and what I've learned is that those who have taken her to bed with them are IDIOTS! The woman seems to have had no fun in the bedroom...ever! I went as far as to compare it to Orthodox Jews, who make every attempt to have no pleasure during the act of sex. They will go as far as to do it through a sheet with a hole cut in the center, because sex is for breeding ONLY, not for fun.

This poor woman...sexually and emotionally, there hasn't been a man in her life who as treated her like a goddess. If there are any men reading this, I'll tell you right now that the best way to get and keep a woman's attention is to treat her as such. Relationships are 50-50. If it's all about you, with very little being about her, you're doing something wrong.

Of course, I'm not really the one to come to for romantic advice. I'm single for a reason. Even if I were to develop something with Neko, which I doubt, it wouldn't last anyway. There's too much wrong with the body I currently occupy.

Just the same, it's about sharing. And so I have been trying to allow Neko to do just that. She gets to share with me, and I share with her. And if something comes of this, good for us. If nothing comes of it, and we simply become good friends...also good for us. Oh, I'm interested...but her life is in transition at the moment, and I have never been one to truly force such issues. Although...

Well, it doesn't really count because I was already dating the girl I have in mind. This was back in my teens, and I was dating a lovely lass named Serena. Shy and quiet, she was never one to cause any kind of trouble...until another guy began to make the moves on her. She discussed this with me, and told me that she wasn't sure where she stood on the entire thing. Thus, I said something along the lines of, "I see. Well, here's how I'll handle it. I'm going to give you three days to decide which of us you want to date. I won't call you. I'll leave you to your thoughts. And after three days, I'll be asking you to decide if it's me or him." Mind you, I was taking a HUGE chance here. I was basically telling her that I, her current boyfriend, would back off and let her choose between me and my competitor. This would allow him to swoop in and try to officially take her from me, or for her to have a fling before coming back to me...

But it all worked out in my favor. As crazy as it was making me, I didn't call for three days, while he was on the phone daily, pleading with her to choose him over me. In other words, he became a pest, while I remained a man of my word.

Alas, I was in the prime of my "jackass years," in which I was, as she is now officially quoted as having written, "rude, insulting, loud, and obnoxious." In the same letter, Serena said I was "warm, caring, affectionate, and extremely understanding." During the conversation that followed, in which we broke up, I told her that her choice of descriptors were conflicting. She agreed...but told me they all fit.

That was the only time I ever forced a relationship issue as such, and I didn't really force it. I was young, and believed that the world was still full of women for me to experience. I hurt when Serena broke up with me, but I was able to move on rather smoothly.

As for Neko...? As I said, I'm interested. She seems to be mildly interested as well. But she's not actually looking for a lasting relationship, so I will sit and bide my time. Should we end up together...Well, that's be nice. And when/if that happens, I'll be sure to listen - not hear, but LISTEN - to what she says about the other men in her past, and be sure to avoid their moronic mistakes at all costs!

Or so I hope. Once again, I'm a guy. We have great potential to be idiots. And in the meantime, I'll do my best to keep sharing what Neko will allow me to share. Because that, my friends, is what it's all about.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A true feat of gaming in every regard!

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS FOR "GOD OF WAR 3!" DON'T READ IF YOU INTEND TO PLAY! (Not much is revealed, but still...)

My housemates are video game addicts. They know more about them than I ever did, and I sometimes believe that Cody exited the womb and suckled a console controller for nourishment instead of a human breast.

Since 2004, or so I was told last night, a series of games entitled "God of War" has been bouncing around. It is the epic tale of Kratos, who was duped by the Olympian gods, betrayed by them, and driven to outrageous levels of rage. (Seriously, if anyone was in need of a Xanax, it's Kratos.) Thus, the main character takes it upon himself to seek the death of as many Olympian gods as he can get his hands on...and he gets his hands on all of them, including Aphrodite, whom he stabs in a very different manner.

Okay...that's the summary of the main trilogy. Now we come to the events of last night. You see, the third game was released yesterday. Upon his arrival at home from work, Cody sat down to play the game...and beat it in just under nine hours.

There is a part of me that is most assuredly adult, looking at life and realizing I have responsibilities to myself and those around me. Last night, the kid in me took over, and I didn't DARE remind Cody that he had work today. I was too enraptured by this game, its story, and the utter beauty of its graphics.

Sidetrack a moment. I'm sure my readers have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy as presented via Peter Jackson. One of the things that made those movies fantastic was the fact that it all seemed quite real. The characters would get dirty...you could see pores on their skin...and when a cave troll arrived, it looked like a creature they'd actually found somewhere on Earth and tamed to play a specific role.

The opening screen on God of War 3 shows half of the main character's face. He looks pissed off at something, keeps glaring to his right, (the player's left), and breathing...Seriously, gang...He looks alive! And as the game opens into the action, it apparently starts where God of War 2 left off. Kratos is on Gaia's back, she is climbing Mount Olympus along with other titans, and the gods are launching themselves into battle. As if this was not epic enough, the camera angles then start making gargantuan sweeps across the screen, giving you better views of the action that some movies. It was just...amazing.

I couldn't sit still during the game-play. I was thirsty, hungry, and craving information as the others in our little "audience" made guesses about who was voicing which character. They didn't slouch on the talent. You may not know the names, but if you look some of them up, you may remember them. Linda Hunt narrates. Malcolm McDowell as Daedalus. Clancy Brown as Hades. Adrienne Barbeau as Hera. Kevin Sorbo as - you guessed it - Hercules. Rip Torn as Hephaestus. These are the talents I recognize, but if you look on your own, you might discover others that you know.

We went to bed shortly after 6:00 AM, after watching the end credits and speculating on why there didn't seem to be a named actress behind the voice of Aphrodite. (Each game in the series has had a side "sex game," and if you keep repeating it...well, it's too funny to reveal more, and I don't know if any of you intend to play the game. Just keep going at it a few times for your own laugh.)

Some other thoughts on the game...

Cody plays video games very differently from me. If I succeed at a task, I save, simply because I don't want to have to try again. And I mean many little achievements. Did my thief open a safe? Save! Did I find valuable loot? Save! Did I win a mostly minor battle against a dozen minions? Save! I'll also engage multiple files, rather than rewriting the same one over and over again. Cody does none of this...

...which means he has a greater chance to miss something on screen. As the player, you concentrate on the main character and taking care of business. GoW 3 has things going on in the background that you can easily miss if you're not paying attention to ALL of it.

There is a bit of toying with our monotheistic values of today. I mean, if we were to assume the Olympians really existed, what happened to them? GoW's premise is that they were killed...and that G-d just might actually be one of them, and a woman. (A previously murdered god returns to claim they have evolved into a higher consciousness. Is this our G-d today?)

Why...WHY...WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN MADE INTO A SERIES OF MOVIES? The story is truly epic, with a mortal ascending to godhood, losing it just a bit more, and seeking some very bloody revenge. Take the game-play out, and you could still get two good movies from the story alone. Oh, I know most movies based on video games tend to be trash, but if you leave most of the original dialogue alone, tighten up the puzzles and fights into genuine action sequences, it could be done. (Having said that, George Lucas will probably end up directing and have Kratos fight Sith instead of Greek gods...Or have none of you ever seen the video of how George would have handled Lord of the Rings?)

Nine hours of working to complete an epically visual game. It truly was a feat of gaming in every regard.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

After a little rest...

...I am awake, and...Wait. A "little" rest? I slept most of the evening after that post, awoke only a few times through the night for drinks and calls of nature, made a few posts to GitP somewhere in there, but otherwise dozed and dozed. I didn't get a little rest...I got A LOT!

Anyway, I've been failing to mention that I have a new little bundle of joy in my home. No, it's not a baby. It's a new computer! (And there was much rejoicing.) This would not have been possible if I didn't live with a computer building fool, Cody. When I asked what he would like as payment for this, he replied, "Rob...when all the parts are here, I'm probably going to have a 'geekasm.' You don't have to get me anything, because I love this tech stuff." Mind you, his language was a little more colorful, but that was the gist of it.

The system he built for me surprised him. You see, I received my operating system, Windows 7, from a friend who works in IT. He was able to send me a perfectly legal copy of it, and Cody assumed that formatting my computer with its OS would take up to five hours. It took around one, and that was because he kept wandering away from it, thinking it would need time to upload its various functions. Had he sat here, it might have taken a half hour.

But we did have some fun try to get the computer started. Initially, after it was assembled, we'd hit the power button; things would light up; and that was it. Nothing was appearing on the screen. None of the common buzzes from inside the computer were forthcoming. Cody ended up disassembling the computer twice, with the last being the realization as to what was REALLY going on. (Since Ray reads this on occasion, I can't really tell you what it was. I made a promise. But according to Cody, it was Dumb, with a capital D.) There's also another part of this tale I can't reveal, as it speaks to the habits of my housemates that is none of the world's concern. But it's amazing what can bring clarity of thought to one's mind.

One of the best parts of this entire thing is a joke that was once made on GitP that has become reality. Way back when Stu was sick, and folks came together to muster the funds for me to get to him, I joked that the next fundraiser should be to buy me a large wise screen, HD television. While it's not enormous, I managed to find a 20" HD screen for the computer for a mere $124 at New Egg. No fundraiser required. =)

Here's the thing that gets me. I found a 20" HD screen for $124. If I get one twice the size, wouldn't that mean it should be twice the price? Shouldn't we ALL be able to buy a 40" HD television for $250? Apparently not. The one we have in the living room, which was a collective X-Mas gift to ourselves, cost around $400. (My contribution was a mere $100, as was Ray's. Cody owns most of that bad boy.)

Of course, when we got the new TV, I had a startlingly simple argument against it. "Guys, you want to replace our working television with another working television because the new one is the latest and greatest toy? When I was growing up, we didn't replace things unless they broke." I was outvoted on that one, and they needed my contribution to get it, so now we have an HD TV in the living room because we could get one.

Ah, but I am getting off track. New computer, remember?

The first thing I did was load City of Heroes onto it. Years ago, when I would update CoH, it would take hours. That was just the update. Last week, when we finally had the computer operational, the download from the server took two hours. The whole game, with all 16 updates, took two hours! That, my friends, is amazing. But then I tried to play, and the new widescreen didn't agree with the initial graphics settings of the game. Everything was stretched. Just a bunch of wide superheroes, running around, saving Paragon City. It looked silly. Thankfully, I was able to readjust the game to my 1200 x 900 resolution, and the game looks...

Well, my friend Zeb asked me if I'd noticed anything spectacular about the game, now that I had the latest in hardware and software. (Zeb was integral to building this beast, as I ran most of the parts purchases by him to get his opinion. Thanks Zeb!) I told him I didn't rally see anything spectacular, and blamed my recently healing eye on the lack of "Wow!" factor. Over the weekend, however, I was making some zombie characters for a story arc I'm making for CoH, and I peered rather closely at the zombie template the game has stored. I started to notice details that I'd never seen before. Like the skin stretch taut over the slightly more bony frame...and I can see the individual teeth on one of the face options. It was pretty nifty.

Anyway, folks...It's time for me to hobble off and do something else. I essentially demand that you all be well. =)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eye was so close...

Eye Surgery: Part II - Revenge of the Final Chapter of the Dead! Or something like that.

I was ready this time. AS mentioned previously, I acquired just a few 5 mg. Valiums from my PCP so I could handle the eye surgery. Once I got there, I also discussed an actual injection to handle the pain of that device they put in my eye to keep me from blinking. However, I learned something about that shot that made me think twice immediately. You see...Oh my...no pun intended, and I'm sorry to all victims. Anyway, that shot involves putting a needle in just under the eye and pushing it back far enough to inject very near to the optic nerve. I may have thought twice, but that didn't alter my resolve. I wanted to complete the surgery today.

Luckily, there was another option. They were able to apply an anesthetic gell, not drops, to my eye, which seemingly numbed the surface just fine. I specify the surface because of what eventually happened.

The doc was so close to the end of the procedure, and I'd been told by both her and her assistant that things were going much better than last time...and then I started feeling pain from the laser. What had been mild discomfort in the past was starting to really sting as the doc concentrated on one area or another.

My reaction was no longer one borne of PTSD, but of discomfort. I couldn't continue because every shot with the laser was causing pain. Thus, with the job only 80% complete, we called it quits again, with the completion set for three weeks from today. The assistant washed the remnants of the gel from my eye, patched it as per my request so that I wouldn't try to unconsciously fiddle with my numb eye, and I was on my way...

Only to experience a new problem once I was in the car. I have no idea what was causing it, although a guess would be trying to view the world through an uncovered eye with a dilated pupil with that bright, bright sun above, but I was INCREDIBLY nauseous. I did what I used to in the past, and that was to take deep breaths and concentrate on not throwing up in the car. Once we parked in front of our home, however, the fight was lost. I could no longer keep my act together, and I knew there was no way I'd make it inside. So with all the world to see me, as various neighbors were coming home from work at that hour, I leaned against the trailer and brought up everything that was still in my stomach. Thankfully, it was only fluids, as I hadn't actually eaten anything all day prior.

And now, my friends, I need to get back to bed. The numbing gel is slowly wearing off, my eye is starting to ache, and I am physically exhausted from the days activities. In my next entry, I will hopefully remember to post about the new arrival in my life.

Be well. =)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And now, the medical report...

The reality of yesterday's events is that I went to see TWO doctors. First was my PCP, and the other was the pain specialist.

Early in the day, I saw my PCP and cleared up some of the facts about my knee. It is, in fact, the right knee with the tear in the medial meniscus. This means we are all officially baffled as to what's going on with my left knee. Once again, I reviewed the fact that I'm in pain perpetually, and that one of them there bones is shifting around. The NPR that I see said it all sounds like a tear, but there's nothing showing on the right side. As for the right knee, I made it clear that unless I make a specific move, it doesn't bother nearly as much. So I will engage in physical therapy while we seek a different specialist...

...because there is no way on Earth I'm going back to see that callus S.O.B. You want me to be a good patient? Treat me with respect. Don't act as though I'm stupid. And don't contradict my every complaint. When I say it hurts, it hurts, and all the reports you have that tell you nothing is there mean very little to me. I'm in pain. I'm taking FAR too many pills to get relief. When I plead for help, don't dismiss me as though I'm idiot who "obviously doesn't know what he's feeling."

We discussed the potential danger of seeing the pain specialist and getting an argument over my pain meds. The fact of the matter is that I've been on them for two years. There's a good chance stopping them rather suddenly would be outright dangerous. So just to cover my bases, the NPR wrote for more of my pain meds, as well as insulin, a VERY small script for Valium for my next eye appointment, and penicillin.

*sigh* Here's why I can't go to the GitP meet-up. My mouth is in bad shape. My gums are receding so much that my teeth are coming loose, rotting, and becoming infected. This is a combination of genetics and diabetes, so I need to get my mouth...replaced. I refuse to be a toothless wonder, unable to chew real food. And the cost of replacing my mouth, according to what I was told at the dental clinic, would be close to $2,000. I'm in a bad way now, so G-d only knows how much discomfort I'll be experiencing by the time I have all the money saved up. Add the fact that I'll pretty much need every single tooth pulled, and I'm going to be a miserable camper for about a month or so sometime in the future.

Back to doctor visits...

The pain doctor was an okay guy, with an accent I couldn't place, and a slightly offbeat sense of humor. While trying to explain some of the things I've done for pain management, and what I've been told by doctors, he said some of it were the dumbest explanations he'd ever heard. He also tried to correct me several times while discussing my symptoms. That's what brought me to tell him that I can only use my own words to tell him what's happening; it's easy for me to say something wrong because I'm not the expert. "I didn't go to med school to learn all the proper language," I said. His humorous response was, "Neither did I."

For the last few years, I've been pointing to areas on my hands and telling folks that what I'm showing them are muscles atrophied by diabetic neuropathy. It seems that there's a SMALL chance I'm right on that, but the doc pointed out that if it was neuropathy, other muscles would ALSO be dying on me. In fact, my recent hobby of playing console video games would not be causing me to get "gamers' thumb" if diabetes was to blame.

Something else is up, and he wants it investigated. He wants an MRI of my upper spine and an EMG of my upper body. The latter is a lot of fun...being poked with an electric prod, with the occasional needle inserted to have electricity jolting a muscle here and there. (Good times, good times.)

Then came the prescriptions. First of all, he was instantly agreeable that the morphine I take doesn't last 12 hours. He's never heard of it actually lasting 12 hours, and anyone who says it does it a moron. However, I told him that the strength leaps taken made little sense to me. I started at a 15 mg. dose, then went up to 30 mg. Instead of there being a step with a 45 mg pill, the next leap is 60 mg. It seemed stupid to both of us, so he wrote prescriptions for 15 and 30 mg. tablets, one of each to be taken three times a day. With 45 mg. taken regularly, I will hopefully not be nearly as spaced out and in far better control on a constant basis.

But to handle breakthrough pain, he's taking me off percocet. I could be wrong, but I believe he went with something even stringer...a drug called dilaudid. According to my reading, it's used for moderate to sever pain, which sounds right up my alley. I haven't filled it yet, but will likely do so tomorrow. Then we shall see what we shall see.

Finally, the reasons behind my not taking Ultram were INCREDIBLY dumb. Being told not to take it because it would keep too many of my opiate receptors dancing was one of the most ridiculous things this new doc heard. He said almost exactly what I've been saying for YEARS! "Percocet is fine when dealing with physio-mechanical pain, but Ultram is infinitely better on neurological pain." After telling the doc that I would rather take this non-narcotic for neuropathy discomfort instead of reaching for the percocet each time, he was VERY agreeable to the plan.

I'm hoping I made it clear to him. I want to live with a degree of comfort, and I am willing to do anything he asks of me to do so. When he said he wanted the MRI and the EMG, my response was, "Great. I'd rather know what's wrong than live with mystery pains." When handed a contract about narcotics, saying I wouldn't accept other pain meds, with the exception of when/if I have surgery, I signed without making an issue of it...

...although I did talk to the nurse afterward about getting quantities properly filled. Sometimes a pharmacy doesn't have the amount of pills that are written on the prescription, and so I might have to seek out someplace other than the two pharmacies I listed on the contract. The nurse said that was fine, as long as I called to let them know what was happening.

And that's the medical report for the time being, folks. Monday will bring my next laser surgery for my right eye, and I'll have six tablets of a low dose of Valium to help avoid another anxiety attack. (I told the NPR that I wanted something I could take without falling asleep, and that I could take a second time in short order should one prove not to be enough.) I'll try to keep everyone posted on what else happens in my life.

Be well, all! =)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Physics don't apply...

I saw a pain specialist today. And while there is news on that front, many of my posts of late have been VERY serious. Thus, it's time for one of utter and complete nonsense. Today's subject...? "Just Cause 2."

For starters, I didn't know there was a "Just Cause 1." Having seen the demo for the second game, I will remain thankful that I never saw it, heard of it, or imagined it by accident. But my housemates downloaded it onto their PS3, and it is being played to death by EVERYONE.

Why? Because it's absurd! To quote Wyatt, It's the most 'video game' video game I've seen in a long time." Many games try for as much realism as possible. Not JC2! Sure, there's enough visual detail to say, "Ooh, that's pretty." After that...Well, someone somewhere decided physics should take some time off, and the programmers went nuts.

You play as Rico "the Scorpio" Rodriguez, (who is known only by the name "Sancho" in this house). In the opening scene, he meets with a woman whose accent is a combination of Jamaican and African - the voice acting and writing are nightmares...PLURAL! - who claims she's heard that Rico is very good. At what, we have no idea...yet. His response, "They tell me I'm the best." And we still don't know what he's good at...

...but you find out rapidly as the demo starts up. First, there's the grappling hook attacked to his left arm. I have no idea what supplies it with its tether, but it seems you can fire it some distance and then pull yourself at approximately 300 MPH toward your target. You can also tether two objects together...Like a car to a helicopter, or a person to a moving car.

Speaking of which, when standing by the side of the road, you can fire the grappling hook at a moving car, pull yourself to it, ride the roof a little bit in a standing position, then drop down, open the car door, throw the driver out, and take over at the wheel. The removal of drivers applies to ALL vehicles. Jeeps, motorcycles, helicopters...Rico can do it all!

Let us not forget the pack of infinite parachutes. Using the grappling hook and chute together, you can travel for miles, sometimes faster than any of the cars.

As I said, the demo is being played to death here, and we've discovered a number of fun things in which the physical laws of OUR world don't apply. Here are some of them:

1. Grab a helicopter and travel as high as you can. Abandon ship. The demo is 30 minutes long of open-world play, and this fall is going to eat about two minutes of it. Do NOT use your parachute. Just drop. In our world, you'll reach terminal velocity in short order, hit the ground, and even dental records won't help identify you; they'll have to rely on genetic testing. But Rico...? Just keep falling until and watch the ground. When you're in range, use the grappling hook to pull you to the ground EVEN FASTER! Rico will stand up at the end of the move.

2. Cars can take a tremendous beating in this game. On a guess, folks here have hit 100 MPH at a minimum, driven off the road, up a mountain, and finally off a cliff...only to discover Rico is headed straight towards a boulder, which the car will BOUNCE off of after a head-on collision. While the car is banged up, you should be able to drive it long enough to pull off the same stunt at least twice more.

3. While falling with the chute open, one player decided to simple angle Rico in such a way as to be spinning in the air. In such tight circles, he lost no altitude...just kept spinning and making all witnesses dizzy.

4. There are large canisters of pressurized gas all over the place. No matter where you shoot it, the valve comes off, it spews gas, and will fly off chaotically. Those that are standing upright, however, can be shot, grappled, and ridden to a fair height before they explode. (Let go, or Rico is dead!)

5. At the mention of death, Rico seems to be able to take 1,000 shots with a gun before he's claimed by the Reaper. Many opponents in the game appear to be so bad with a gun that they shouldn't have been armed to begin with...except when you're being chased and you decide to steal a vehicle. THAT'S when they become crack-shots, as they are almost guaranteed to take out at least one tire.

6. Standing ON a crane while destroying it, we've discovered that Rico will not only survive the fall, but any of the steel frame that falls on him will bounce off his head.

7. There is a plane that is seemingly made of paper, strike-anywhere-matches, and filled with propane. The wheels on it are only there for taking off. The moment they caress the ground in an attempted landing, the plane explodes, killing Rico.

8. After stealing a vehicle, you can exit it and stand on its roof to shoot at people and things. That no one is inside the car to steer or apply the gas means nothing to our hero.

9. Steve likes to open his play by leaping from the starting zone, falling, angling his body so his chest scrapes along the ground for a bit, open is parachute, then close it...to basically roll down the mountain end over end.

10. Another Steve incident was him stealing one motorcycle, seeing a different one he wanted, and so he leapt from one to take the other. As he sped off, he saw something off to the left...a motorcycle that just seemed to be driving off into the desert, and he said, "Hey...where's that guy going?" He rapidly closed the distance, only to discover it was the first motorcycle, the one he abandoned. It was driving off into the sunset on its own.

I said earlier that the voice acting and writing were horrific. Well, the woman who hires Rico has to be the most annoying thing about what I've experienced thus far. Her accent doesn't even make for a good fictional one. And at one point, she called Rico "comrade," but pronounces it as "com-RAID." That stupid, mish-mosh accent makes me nuts! A laughable line is when angry guards call Rico "a piece of dung." Thyen there's Rico, himself. After destroying a fuel pipeline, calls his enemies a bunch of "pipeline jerks." It's almost as though they held back on the language for the kids, but ignored the fact that there's a ton of violence and blood splatter to be witnessed.

All of this absurdity now said, the guys are planning on buying this game BECAUSE it is so absurd. We've done far too much laughing AT the game not to get it. It's also perfect for venting one's anger, as you actually get points for causing as much destruction as possible. Who knows? I might actually play this one, too? I mean, I like bouncing the occasional car off a mountain from time to time. Don't you?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eye couldn't handle it

Well, I saw a retinal specialist today. Once again, the news isn't good. I have officially been diagnosed with advanced retinopathy, also called proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). My right eye being so much of a concern that the doc opted to do emergency laser surgery right then and there.

The good news: she didn't require me to endure a floroscein angiogram. I say this is good because I react poorly to the dye that's used. It makes me toss my cookies...which actually involves neither tossing nor cookies. I avoided food all morning so as not to have to deal with anything solid trying to find its way back out.

The bad news is that the damage can easily be seen without it. There was enough neovascularization, new blood vessel growth (that are much weaker than original equipment), to warrant firing up the laser immediately.

I was prepared for this. It's happened in the past, so it wasn't anything I was concerned about...except that this doctor used methods with which I was unfamiliar. Oh, the contraption where I rest my head was old news...but that's where it stopped. She used a device that was designed to hold my right eye open, without allowing me to blink. The pressure of this thing against my eye hurt. There was also an assistant that stood behind me and held a hand to the back of my neck to stop me fro jerking away; no pressure was applied, but the presence of that hand became a factor in...

My anxiety attack! Yes, with everything that was happening in that moment, my subconscious translated it as me being attacked. I started to shake and sweat, and pleaded for us to continue another time...which will be next Monday.

With that, I'm off. The dilation of my eyes hasn't fully worn off, and I don't want to strain my eyes any further to keep writing.

Be well, all.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some shouldn't be doctors

It's really quite simple. Based on one's name or personality, some people should not even approach a medical school. As a minor example, there's the pediatrician who diagnosed me as a diabetic. The irony is thick. I was diagnosed as an insulin dependent diabetic by DR. NEEDLES! (I'm not even joking.) What kid likes needles to start with? And why, pray tell, would someone with such a name opt to treat children? Sadism?

The bigger example is the idiot I saw today. Someone, somewhere is reading my MRIs wrong. According to the specialist I saw today, there's nothing wrong with my left knee. The tear is in the right. During his examination, he pulled and stretched my left knee, and I was all but crying on the exam table. Doing the same things to the right knee, I felt no discomfort whatsoever.

My intention was to walk in, tell the doc my issues, schedule surgery, and get it over with. No. Despite having attempted exercising at home, he insisted on several things. The first was that I can't be feeling pain where I feel pain. The next was that I receive physical therapy. The final was that if PT doesn't work, he'll go with a shot of a numbing agent...all of which I am absolutely sure will do NOTHING to fix what's broken.

The best part was being treated like an idiot. I'm so glad that the report now says that my right meniscus is torn. The exam and my recent experiences all tell me the left knee is my main problem. And to tell me I'm wrong is stupidity incarnate. How can anyone tell me that the pain I feel doesn't exist? For G-d's sake, my left tibia is relocating itself with every acute bend of the knee! Are humans actually capable of THINKING bones into new places? If so, I could become a superhero! So there I am, trying to explain that my discomfort knows no bounds, and that I want the knee fixed, to which his actual words were, "You're not understanding what I'm saying." Translation: "You're too stupid to grasp my diagnosis." He then went on to tell me, again, that I CAN'T be feeling pain where I'm feeling it. Oddly, I still feel pain there.

The key problem, I believe, is that he was NOT treating me as a patient with a specific medical problem, but as a mere drug-seeker. He's not interested in what I have to say; he knows better than me, and has all the degrees to prove it. Instead of listening to me, (and I just happen to be living in this body for more than 42 years), Dr. Know-It-All is intent on treating me as little more than someone trying to find bigger and better ways of getting my hands on narcotics. This attitude, mind you, comes after the fact that I told him I don't WANT more painkillers; I want my knee fixed.

My increasing ire doesn't end with the experience of dealing with this "doctor." His idea of treatment is going to ruin my GitP meet-up plans. The next month will be spent in physical therapy. April will then involve shots for a numbing agent. (I flat out refused steroid shots, citing diabetes complications.) That brings us to some time in May, which may or may not involve the surgery I'm sure I need. Add to this the fact that I've started healing at a snail's pace over the last decade, surgery recover may well take a month or two. Even if I have the surgery in early May, it means part of June will also include my recovery...and the meet-up is toward the end of June.

Before I left, I cornered the CNA and asked her if there were any doctors at that practice who listened to and cared about patients. She was unable to pass an opinion, probably with the great fear of losing her job. I'd be afraid in her shoes, as well. With someone like Dr. Know-It-All at the helm, she could lose her employment for any kind of free thinking.

Ultimately, I was INCREDIBLY ANGRY when I left the office. Thankfully, I've been home for some time, and my anti-anxiety meds are doing their thing. I'm fairly relaxed at this moment...But thanks to my report to my housemate Ray, who played the role of medical transport today, his desire to look after my well-being has him thinking it might be wisest to get a second opinion. I'm inclided to agree. Because first impressions mean a great deal when it comes to the doctor/patient relationship, and Dr. Hinkin, (that's the idiot's name), was already off to a bad start with that early call declaring I wouldn't get drugs from him - drugs I had no intention of asking for. It was made worse by his haughty, callous attitude toward my visible suffering. With luvk, I'll find a doctor whose humanity remains intact.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Suspicions rising

About a month ago, I failed to come here and report something rather serious. You see, since leaving AZ and my pesky neighbor Eddie, I discovered that my prescription for percocet would last more than the month for which it was written, provided the weather was good. (It's quite an involved tale, but Eddie was was never able to manage his own pain meds very well.) Here in KS, I went from being right on schedule with my painkillers to being approximately one week ahead. I had about 40 extra tablets one which I could rely should my pain become unbearable.

Last month, however, pills went missing. At first, I doubted what I was experiencing. Was I taking extras? Did I spill them from the pill divider that I've used for years? Did Nike, my little furry ball of hate and mischief, find the plastic thing that made noise, play with it, and manage to lose some of my pills? (That last was possible, since a couple of the compartments were opened.)

No...Something was wrong, here. These meds, which I rely upon entirely too much to remain mobile, had vanished. I brought it to the attention of Ray and Cody, and we confronted the most likely suspect, Steve. He's had a thing for percocets in the past, and my pills sitting in my room seemed like an opportunity he just couldn't pass up.

I refused to do several things. I didn't want a genuine confrontation, and in no way was I going to start playing "friend police." While Ray seemed willing to start keeping a careful eye on who went where when they came to visit, I remained adamant on the issue. Instead, I would simply hide the bottles and keep the pill divider on me at all times, and that's what I've been doing since.

However, events this evening have me thinking Steve may actually have been the correct suspect all along. You see, Steve lost his job this evening. He lost it due to an accumulation of petty thefts. He works at a place where games, DVDs, and CDs can be traded for store credit or cash. Well, occasionally he would take an item in, not process it correctly, hang on to the product, and sell it himself to the store for cash, which he would then use for food. (After the fact, numerous people have told him that if he'd just made a phone call, he would have been fed without the complicated thefts.) For his actions, he was not only fired, but placed under arrest. His thefts came to an approximated total of $450 over the course of many months.

Where MY suspicions lie is the fact that several people mentioned that he may have been caught at work trying to make some kind of "percocet deal." That phrase definitely got my attention. It seems Steve has more of an issue with percocets than I was initially led to believe. If he's been seeking ways to occasionally score the exact medication I use daily, my pill divider sitting in my room was even more inviting that folks have mentioned.

So...Was I lied to? I have no idea. The fact that he was arrested for theft at the place where he earned the money he needed to LIVE has me leaning toward the idea that I was deceived to some extent. What trust I DID have in Steve is evaporating, rapidly from the looks of it. And while quite a bit of dark humor has been bandied about this evening after the dramatic firing/arrest, I am very concerned. A part of me wants to demand that he not be unattended at any time when under our roof. No more spending the night; no more being left alone in our living room while people vanish into other parts of the trailer to do whatever; no more "knock and enter" privileges for him. I'm of a mind that Steve stole the very meds that keep me walking...and the only proof I have is his word that he didn't. And that's not enough. I only know him since October, and "innocent until proven guilty" isn't holding up as of tonight. I mean, he stole from his workplace, where his closest friend is the manager. If he would do this to his closest friend, (Wyatt), what would stop him from stealing from a guy he knows four months?

*sigh* The pills, as is now habit, are in my pocket. I would rather I didn't have to take this measure, But there's no other choice at the moment. If I had my way, I'd banish him from this household, just to play it safe. Alas, mine is not the final word, and so I take precautions. But I have enough crap on my plate...and I certainly don't need this.