Friday, January 28, 2011

A touching time-out

It's double-XP weekend on City of Heroes. That means there's lots of opportunity for players who have a dozen characters, like myself, to level up and gain more power. I was in the midst of working on my main healer-type character, when Cody came in to chat. He's understandably upset. It involves a paradox of the government handing out a large tax refund to someone...on unemployment?!? So Cody decided to stop in and talk for a bit, rather than let his destructive urges get the better of him.

This led to me taking a short break from CoX to wander around the web. And one of the places I tend to visit is wimp.com. They have numerous videos there, claiming they're the best of the week.

Now, I used to watch American Idol. I got into it some time around season four, I think. It was interesting stuff, and I was briefly caught up by what was called "reality TV." But then came the season when Chris Daughtry was voted off the show, and I was ultimately disappointed. You see, in my mind, the REALITY was that he had more talent than the other contestants combined, but was a supposed "loser" when it came to the show. (Years later, he's rolling in fame and fortune, while the winner was dropped from the recording label for being a no-talent hack.) So I was done with American Idol. I might watch the auditions, but that would be it. And after a while, even that wasn't worth it.

How does this relate to my visit to wimp.com? Because of this video. It's wonderful and heartbreaking, all at once. What's more, it connects so solidly with my life.

I'm a mess. I worry that the mess that I am will drive Becky away. This video that I watched makes me think she may very well be like Chris Medina, in that she won't leave me, ESPECIALLY when I need her most.

Y'know, occasionally I need someone or something to be heard or witness by me to make everything going on in my life click into place. I think this was one of those things. Becky and I won't fall apart because we came into this relationship with no surprises. And we don't just say that we love one another; we show it. Like the letter in my last post, which, I should tell you, caused Becky to shed a few more tears of joy. Aside from all the love I feel for her, I also love that my words can affect her so strongly.

So while I pray that Becky and I will have "love ever after," I'm going to add a little prayer for Chris and his fiancee Julianna. Even if he doesn't win American Idol, he's already won in the game of life. He knows what love truly is, and is doing right by the woman whom he's chosen to be at his side forever.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Becky...

It's about that time again, but this time I chose to write one of my letters to you on my blog. Why? To show the world - to announce it - how much I love you.

You know that I worry. I live in perpetual fear of things that COULD happen down the road. They are all things that I've experienced, from poor health to infidelity breaking apart the relationship. Yet it seems that no matter how I voice or demonstrate my fears, you constantly tell me to stop worrying. That you are different and that time will prove you right.

But you know what? Despite my perpetual fears, I still believe that falling in love with you was the greatest event in my life. Never before has a woman come along who has accepted me for every flaw that I could name. There have also been very few who've dared to call me handsome, let alone some of the compliments you use with me.

We often joke about the other being insane for having fallen in love with one another. I try to dissuade you from this path, as I truly believe you are my miracle. When I try to point out all of those qualities that I find attractive about you, you state how there's nothing special; that that's just the way you are. How can you not see that that's what makes you so wonderful? There are these thoroughly amazing qualities about you - loving, caring, sweet, funny, intelligent - that are all natural aspects of your very being. It's because they exist naturally, without any effort on your part, that makes you so wonderful.

This is just one of the reasons why I miss you so much. Having spent time with you, I know how amazing it is just to share the same space with you. I know that love and laughter can't be too far away whenever we're together. You bring me peace and joy simultaneously, and those are great things to a man who's been through as much as I have. When we're together, I find it that much easier to set aside my fears, because I can constantly see the love in your eyes.

Now, in about five and a half weeks, we'll be seeing one another again. This time, however, it won't be a visit. (No more bus trips!) I'll be with you to stay, beginning our "happily ever after" officially. That combined feeling of being scared and excited at once is being overcome by the latter. I'm looking forward to coming home.

I don't think I ever told you, but I absolutely love that you adopted that idea so solidly. It seems that those lyrics from Billy Joel, "I need you in my house 'cause you're my home," really stuck to us. And when you tel me that I need to come home soon, my heart and soul yearn for it that much more. We simply can't be together soon enough.

As for my fears...? Well, they should fade with time. I'm just now working on giving up the idea of trying to give you an escape route. When I mentioned it to Cody recently, he said, "Yeah, you really gotta stop that. She's taken the bait and not letting go." Sound advice from a misanthropist. Whodda thunk it?

I love you, Becky. And when I get to PA, you're going to enjoy the fruits of my last visit, but all the time. Greeting you when you come home. My feeble attempts at house cleaning. My terrifying efforts at cooking. Lying on the futon with my head in your lap while we watch whatever DVD we decide upon. And then there are the new changes, such as me pressing you to get work done for college and debating the various subjects of your classes so that you can have a greater understanding of the material. I enjoy doing these things, even if some of them aren't easy for me.

But I want to confirm something we suspected. Although I started writing this Wednesday night, it is now Thursday morning, and I was awoken by a call from the surgeon's office. The surgery for my left knee will be on 9 February, which is about three and a half weeks from moving time. I probably won't be 100% by the time we're supposed to be on the road, but...Well, being that ball of concern and responsibility that you are, you've already said it's not problem if you have to do much of the lifting...a thing I couldn't do well, anyway.

G-d above, what would I do without you? What would I bee without you? You ARE my miracle. You are the answer to a prayer I've had since I discovered girls were more interesting than baseball cards. (A fact I knew before many other boys.) You are my sweet, beautiful Becky, and I never want to let you go. As a result, I still work to command the stars to light your way and to bring the clouds down to be the softest bed you've ever encountered. As you have stated that I will never "be rid of you," I will be with you forever.

Thus, I come to the end of my letter, and my declarations of love in public. But I did this to make it clear to the whole world that I LOVE YOU! You hear it in my voice constantly, but perhaps you only hear it and aren't quite listening. That I want to share the rest of my life with you. A partnership filled with all of the love and laughter that's constantly mentioned when we talk. I love you, Becky.

Your wonderful, handsome Rob. =)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh no he didn't!

Okay...I'm a nerd, and proud of it. I enjoy Dungeons & Dragons, video games, and reading almost anything that has words strung together to make sentences. But when I encounter a nerd that is also STUPID, it ticks me off.

I was looking for a particular video on YouTube when I stumbled across a 20-minute review of City of Heroes. Said video was posted on 6 September 2010. I sat and watched it...and had to strongly disagree with a great deal of what he had to say. For starters, you might want to watch the video. Here it is. Note he says some things a bit...funny. Like pronouncing the CH in "archetype." "Monotonous" is pronounced "MOTnonmous." "Et cetera" is "eck cetera." "HasTen" is another favorite. And one of my newest pet peeves, (right, my beloved?), is his pronunciation of "eXspecially." Gah! (Oh...and just wait for the fun when he starts saying "PvP" and "PvE" a lot.

And now to start in on his complaints.

He starts on talking about running around too much to talk to various NPCs, claiming it can waste 10 to 20 minutes. Anyone who takes that long to reach anyone in the game took "crawl" as their travel power. (Travel power options include flight, super jump, super speed, and teleportation.) He goes on to suggest the trains should be linked to all zones. Well, for the most part, this is exactly what happened...but shortly after his video was made, so we can excuse him on that one.

His next complaint is about enhancements. These increase the capabilities of one's powers, making the character capable of greater accuracy, damage, and/or range. This guy states that it takes 30 minutes to re-enhance a character. I suppose that's possible...if you're also trying to write a novel, cook a meal, and watch television while buying and placing enhancements, all at the same time. Seriously, it's a five-minute task, and that's if you need to buy them at all.

You see, he states that enhancements become ineffective after so many levels. This WAS true, once upon a time. But since they implemented the invention system, it's just not true. Regular, ordinary invention origin (IO or IOs (plural)) enhancements are good no matter how much you level past them. Mind you, lower level IOs are weaker, but they're good forever. And his complaint about certain zones selling only certain level enhancements...? That's designed to encourage people being in level appropriate zones. A level 1 character trying to power-level (PL) in a level 50 zone shouldn't have the ease of shopping for what he wants in the latter zone.

Okay, he's right in that it certainly feels like players go through the same missions over and over again. And many of the arch-villains (AV or AVs (plural)) can be beaten by simply pounding on them. But it's not true of ALL AVs. Several AVs require a discussion of who is going to do what, because simply moving in and attacking nonstop is only going to get the team wiped out.

He's a very team oriented critic, so the idea that everyone can reach the defense cap in the game bothers him...but not those who enjoy running solo. Yes, it can mean a sacrifice to one's damage capabilities, but so what? We're playing the game as we'd want to. And that's one of the excellent aspects of City of Heroes. You can design characters the way YOU want them, making them incredibly powerful and reducing how difficult missions are, or not only establish yourself as somewhat weaker, but INCREASE your personal difficulty settings.

He skips this entirely. (I think I've already posted about this once before.) City of Heroes/Villains allows you to not only set your door missions so that you face opponents up to +4 levels above you, but you can tell the game that when you're all by yourself that you are to be considered a team of up to eight players, and it should throw EVERYTHING at you! You want a challenge? Well, now you have one!

His next complaint is what we know to be as "power pools." He talks about how things like Health and Stamina are required for character survivability. Not long after he made this video, the Fitness Pool was given to every player over level 1...just as he wanted. But he goes on to say that toggle powers shouldn't cost any endurance, which is a character's energy source. If the toggle-powers didn't cost any energy, then there's less reason for a player to worry about energy management. Such a thing is important to intelligent game-play.

When he says that the top tier power is really not all that great, I'm now wondering what game he's playing. There's only one instance where he's correct, and that's with the power set of Dual Pistols. It's neat to watch, but not that impressive. However, with almost every other set, it's usually an awesome attack that can wipe the floor with almost anyone you face. To say it's no better than a power that's three tiers lower is just wrong.

By the time he mentions the auction house, I'm already thinking that this particular geek is an embarrassment to geek-dom around the globe. He doesn't like the idea of being out-bid by players with more in-game money. Then...ummm...go earn more money, dude. Learn to work the market. As to his complaint that one could simply buy IO recipes, but that players only get 3 storage slots when they start...It's true, but then you can't even use IOs until level seven, and by then you have more storage, which will rapidly continues to increase in the next few levels. When you need the space, you'll have it.

My main character has close to 2,000,000,000 of in-game money, and I got much of it by manipulating the auction house. If I see an item selling for, ohhh...let's say 1,000,000 regularly, I don't sell it at that price. The item will go to the highest bidden regardless of what price I put on it. And the price you set...? The auction house takes 5% of that. So if I set the price at 1,000,000, they'll take 50,000 just for me placing it there. The minimum fee is 5 "dollars" regardless of price. So why bother? I can't tell you how many millions have rolled in when I've been selling items for a mere 10 "dollars." It's even better when I do that with a super-rare item, because I set it at a price of 10, and end up receiving 300,000,000. I've earned so much doing this that I've been able to spread the wealth with plenty of other players, including a few hundred million to Becky.

Oh...and his statement that even low-level stuff sold for over 100 million is just a flat-out lie. I've never seen whatever it is he's talking about. The concept of a price cap on items elminates the concept of a free market. Just because someone bought a low level item for 500,000,000 doesn't mean it should go at that price, or that it normally does. It just means someone with too much money REALLY wanted that item, and wanted to be sure to get it. Trust me, 500,000,000 will probably out-bid many people on many things.

Now he's off to the races on misinformation, stating that it takes three missions to out-level enhancements. Yes, he went back to that.

As far as I can tell, he has ONE legitimate complaint, and that's the lack of end-game content. And you know what? The developers of City of Heroes are working on that. Had he been paying any kind of attention to the news about the game, he would have known that.

He's also looking for some kind of miracle when it comes to PvP in a game that was never supposed to have it. That was an invention of the lead developer who is now long-since gone. In his absence, the current developers have been playing catch-up to fix what he ultimately broke.

Oh...his complaint about the graphics means one thing: he needs a better graphics card, and shouldn't be running this game. There's a reason why technical specs are on the box.

Argh! Really, as I watched through this review a second time so I could write about it, I wanted to reach through the screen and smack this idiot. It wasn't a game review; it was a 20-minute complaint video. Where he couldn't state fact, he inserted fiction. He knew nothing about the game outside of playing it. He tries to come off as something resembling professional, but then tries to use a prop to make a bad in-game joke. Thankfully, fewer than 5,000 people have seen this...whatever it actually is.

And if you ever find this, "RPG Fan-fiction," or whatever your name is, don't you EVER go trying to pee in my watering hole again!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walk it off

I have a good friend who has been suffering with depression on his own for far too long. He's doing what I once did, suffering in silence, while trying to keep those moments in which he vents to a minimum. Had I known how and where to get the help that I needed ages ago, I would have. It was only by accident that I dragged myself to a hospital one day to get the aid I needed. As my personal history has shown, it wasn't enough, and I still made the attempt.

I fear that that is where my friend is headed. He may think he has a handle on it, but there's going to come a time when he blows that mental circuit, and he's going to do something to hurt himself without ever being fully aware of what he's doing. He's going to believe he's doing the right thing by hurting himself. He's going to think things will be fixed afterward. Instead, he'll end up starting on the road to recovery with a much harder start.

What gets me is the fact that it's his family that's keeping him from getting help. Life has provided him with several rough turns, and he ended up moving back under their roof. Since then, they have made it clear that those who pay the ills make the rules. He doesn't pay, so all he gets to do is follow the rules. He's a 22-year-old that's being treated like a five-year-old, and when he attempts to use reason on his parents, they come back at him with utter and complete nonsense.

The key is that mental illness is irrelevant. Willpower will win out. Thus, it would seem that he should "walk it off," or the much hated phrase in my book, "snap out of it." Let me tell you, if "snap out of it" were vaguely possible for any genuine illness out there, I'd start with my diabetes. That's not possible, as it is an actual illness, with physical issues at stake, and therefore has medications for it.

As does depression. If it was a matter of willing one's self into good mental health, there wouldn't be medications at all. Instead, there would be nothing but specially trained instructors who would teach people how to overcome what is only THOUGHT to be an illness. But it's real. It involves chemical imbalances in the brain, and the meds help to iron out such neurochemical difficulties.

And medication is just the start. If you break a leg badly enough, you'd get crutches to help you get around, and eventually go to physical therapy to learn to walk properly again. Well, the meds used for depression are like crutches. They help a patient become functional enough to get around. Therapy is what helps the same patient learn coping skills to deal with life and other hazards.

Ah, but word is that if my friend were to get the help he needs, he would be shunned by his family. "You dared to become ill? GET OUT!"

In a recent attempt to push him to do the right thing, or to get his family to do the right thing, I mentioned that if he were to develop cancer, they'd leap to his aid because it's far more "real." His response floored me. "If it was a matter of life or death, they'd pay for it. I'd need to pay it back one day though, that's the deal."

These people don't sound human. I could almost see it now, with him lying in a hospital emergency room after a serious car accident. He's conscious, but in a bad way. He's going to be taken in for emergency surgery, when his mother pulls out a contract that says he'll be paying them back as soon as he's healed. If he doesn't sign, there'll be no surgery, and he can just die because they refuse to pay the surgeon. Can you imagine if he got cancer? (G-d forbid!) The cost of all those hospitalizations could well be up to $1,000,000 if it's a particularly troublesome form of cancer that won't leave his body easily! Would they end his life if he couldn't pay them back later?

Let me tell you, if my father pulled any such thing when it came to my health, I;d tell him to leave and never come back. I'd opt for death rather than deal with "people" like that. (Thankfully, I don't have to worry about such things, but still...)

My friend needs help. His family is making things worse for him. He doesn't have it within himself to do what I did, and simply turn away from family that doesn't "believe" in the illnesses I have. Then again, I didn't have much of a choice. No one would even take me in after that 97-day hospital stay.

One of my issues is that if someone is going to become a parent, they need to be prepared to love their kids, regardless of the physical and mental defects. This is illness we're talking about, not behavior. It's not like my friend is out committing crimes while drunk or stoned. He's sick. But it seems to me that his parents didn't want a child to love; they wanted an asset that was productive. That's not a reason to have kids...ever. They should have built nice little stock portfolios instead of having a son.

I want to help my friend. I really do. But I don't see how it can be done while he lives under the roof of such oppressive "people." They might be human, but they're far from humane. And I could probably talk to them until I was blue in the face; they wouldn't listen, as my depression would never be real to them. And that would just make things worse for my friend, I think.

I feel slightly better after being able to rant. I just wish there was more I could do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Attack of the Killer Kripple!

Ummm...Yeah, we'll go with that.

You see, I was lacking figures a while back when I complained about the lack of COLA from SSD this year. (That's "Cost Of Living Adjustment" for those who don't know.) The COLA is base on the CPI, Consumer Price Index. When it goes up, so do the monthly checks from the government. Last year, the CPI dropped by -0.4%. Thus, I can actually understand why we didn't receive a raise last year, and am actually glad there wasn't a decrease.

This year, however, we received the same notice about there being no increase to the CPI, when it is now confirmed that there was, in fact, a bump. Mind you, 1.6% isn't a big increase, but it's an increase all the same. I should be getting approximately $9.60 more each month, and that's adjusting for the decrease last year. (1.6 - 0.4 = 1.2% increase, which equates to about $9.60 a month for yours truly.) It doesn't seem like much, but that's around $115 for the year that I'm not receiving...

...AND I WANT MY MONEY!

Rawr, and stuff.

Not knowing what else to do, I sat down and e-mailed the Social Security Administration. I tried to be civil, but it's hard to say "You blatantly lied to all SSI/SSD recipients" politely.

Oh, if only I hadn't been exposed to kryptonite so early in my career!

Seriously, it's not a shock that the government lied to the public. They do it all the time. If they aren't lying, they're holding back information. And if they aren't holding back information, they're deluding themselves. (There were no WMDs in Iran!) The problem is that Washington D.C. is a big town. Too big to keep a secret. Eventually, the truth leaks out, and we tend to get ticked off. And that's what's happened here, with little old me. I was lied to. Rather badly, at that. Now that the truth is know, I want to know what's being done to fix it.

As I wait for an answer, I'll try to enjoy the image of some poor government employee reading my e-mail and saying, "Oh, crap! They're onto us!"

Be well, all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The 4th Housemate

Okay...the plan was for me to move out in March, and then this guy, Nick, would move in. Not only would he take my place, but he would actually pay rent. (Ooh. Ahh.) I don't live rent-free, exactly, but there has been a lesser demand placed on me than someone who can, say, work. I buy food. I help with the occasional crisis when I can, (and can't during the current one of having no refrigerator). I also buy what supplies are shared when I can, that being cat food, paper towels, and the like.

Alas, Nick was placed in a situation that he never really wanted to be in. He was living with his girlfriend, and the relationship became untenable. As I understand it, she was so selfish that he could no longer stand to be in the same place as her.

Starting last night, Nick has begun crashing on our couch. The reason being that, as of right now, he has nowhere else to go. Sure, he could go back to his parents...but their place is under repair for a burst water pipe. So this is going to be...fun? I mean, four people in a trailer built for three. Yay?

No sooner had I started typing this post than Ray walked in to inform me of the change. Truthfully, I thought it rather obvious, and had given my blessings to the venture last night. I was in a situation where I had nowhere to go myself just over a year ago. Thankfully, Siege and company came to the rescue. Since I am now part of "and company," there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to offer similar aid.

I went into the living room, where we completed our conversation about Nick joining out merry band of...whatever we are. Now, it's been Cody's job to make the occasional Jewish joke. They are usually as bad as the worst Jewish joke I've ever told. (I never told it here, although perhaps one day I shall.) Anyway, Ray was curious as to whether or not I'd become or maintained my mental agility, having been around people who constantly toss one-liners at me. I stated that I was occasionally taken off guard by things I simply didn't expect, to which Cody replied, "Like the Holocaust?"

*wince* He got a decent talking to from me, although Ray and I were too busy laughing.

So this is the madhouse Nick will be joining. Here's hoping he can survive living in the madness instead of just visiting it every now and again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's hers is mine, apparently.

And I'm not talking about fun things, like games or toys. No, when it comes to Becky, it would seem her homework is mine...and I'm not even in school!

Allow me to introduce you to Emile Durkheim. He's an idiot. He seems to think that suicidal folk can be lumped rather neatly into groups via the study of sociology. Well, that may be all well and good for him, but us folks suffering from depression don't take kindly to be lumped together so neatly. We're individuals, and we should be treated INDIVIDUALLY.

One might wonder why I'm even talking about this yo-yo. Well, a bit of his writing was part of Becky's sociology homework. Reading and comprehending the material is not an issue for her. But ask her a question about said material, and she has a hard time structuring her answers. She has a marvelously dizzying way of trying to vocalize what she wants to write, and I end up sitting on my end, asking her to repeat what she's said multiple times because I don't know what the heck is going on.

It's one more reason to get my but to PA. Once I can read the material for myself, I won't have to sit here wondering what on Earth Becky is going on about. That, and when she sarts busting my chops about her homework, I can yell at her. "I'm not gonna do your homework for you, and it won't do itself! Now get to work, young lady, or there'll be no TV before bed time!" =P

In all honesty, Becky has been desperately trying to avoid having me do any of her work. If anything, I've been a sounding board for her to bounce ideas off of, which has led to some interesting conversations.

Of course, the writer in me has to speak up every now and again, regardless of what subject she's working on. For example, in the midst of one of her sociology answers, she started a sentence with a conjunction. When it comes to creative or personal writing, such as this blog, a sentence started with a conjunction is no great sin. But when working on things for college that have to be handed in? That's a different story. And so it is that Becky receives the occasional grammar lesson (reminder) from the man she loves.

The main thing I find bothersome about her having to do homework is that I have less time with her. Even when she tries to work on things while on Skype, silence reigns as I don't want to interrupt. If I were there, I could lean over, give her a kiss, and be on my way without ever having said a word. It would be like reminding her that I love her, but silently.

Thus, life goes on in its way. Soon, I pray, her doing homework will be easier for BOTH of us to handle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The very definition of "irony."

I believe I mentioned the wound on my lower right leg, yes? Once again, a little flake of skin turns into an infected wound because no matter how often it happens, I don't learn better to leave it alone!

For just such an occasion, I keep several things on hand, like extra oral antibiotics and a wound care kit. Well, I was changing my bandage this evening, and...*sigh*...

Okay...Step one is to clean the affected area. I don't have iodine around, so I clean using alcohol swabs. It stings a lot more, but I know it's clean.

The next step is to apply Silvasorb Gel. I'm told that it helps to draw impurities from a wound, helping it to heal. As I learned from the wound care nurse last year, I use an applicator, and don't apply fro tube-to-wound so as not to contaminate the medication.

Next comes the application of a small square of Adaptic. This is a sterile gauze coated with petroleum jelly. It sounds...well, kind of icky, really. But it prevents the wound from sticking to such things as ordinary, dry gauze...and this is where I got myself into trouble.

Adaptic comes in rather large sheets. In order to cut a square off, I take a pair of scissors, clean the edges with another alcohol swab, then snip out the Adaptic as I need it. I was doing this very thing, cleaning the edges, when the blade sliced through the alcohol swab and through my finger. Not COMPLETELY through, but through enough skin to let quite a bit of blood drip.

Suddenly, I was tending a new wound. Once again, I cleaned it with a swab, applied some silver sulfadiazine cream, (which is much like the Silvasorb, but keeps the wound more moist), and then stuck a Band-Aid on it...that promptly didn't stick, and had to be taped down further. I briefly considered the possibility of perhaps going to get a stitch in my finger, but there was no great flap of skin needing to be tacked down. For a wound, it's very neat.

The thing is, as the title of this post says, that this is pure irony, and a perfect example of the course of my life. I got hurt tending a wound! Taken to a greater extreme, I suppose I could have been wrapping the wound on my leg, lost my balance while sitting in my chair, fallen, and broken my wrist when I hit the floor. That would have just been all kinds of perfection, don't you think?

Meanwhile, in another part of my head...

It occurred to me that my doctor asked me a question today that now has me asking, "Why did he ask that?" He wanted to know if my hips hurt. Well, as Becky could easily report, they do. I've been blaming it on the fact that I'm 43 and sleeping on one futon after another. Still, I think I should be able to sleep on a floor and not be in nearly as much pain...

...once that thought was complete, another fact occurred to me: the same doc, for my last three surgeries, all since last May, has mentioned the same thing after each: there was a bit of arthritis in each joint he worked on. I didn't connect the dots when I was in his office, but I think my doctor knows something I don't. Or didn't, as I'm starting to get a clue. Family genetics are continuing to catch up to me, and I'm developing arthritis in every major joint in my body. For reasons unknown, my wrists and ankles don't bother me, but my elbows, knees, and hips...Oh, how those ache!

My problem with this is that I think I'm too young for this kind of thing. Sure, I can understand my diabetes causing me great woe after 36 years. But Arthritis is something OLD people get...Right? Well, of course I know I'm wrong. But I think so youthfully at times that I simply can't believe this "old person's illness" is affecting me. (Yes, despite my many posts where I reveal a great deal of wisdom and experience, I am very much so a child at heart. And you'd know this if you could hear the childish voice I use when I tell Becky that I love her "a whole bunch of dis manies!") Arthritis was never really on my list of things to be concerned about, despite both of my bio-parents having it.

No...You wanna know what I've been keeping an eye out for? Shelve the diabetes; that one is old news. Ignore my smoking; cancer is genetic, and no one in my family has ever had lung cancer. Bad dental equipment can be set aside as well; that's going to be an ongoing battle for some time, I think. No, my great fear is that while killed my elder brother and my uncle Jimmy. Leukemia. And let me tell you, the bruising I had after my last surgery had me freaking out, if only briefly. As I said, cancer is genetic, and leukemia is "blood cancer." I dread the day I start finding bruises after simply leaning on things.

Ah, but I'm not living in fear of that one. It's there, in the back of my mind, a small, nagging thought to pester me every now and again. I worry more about Becky abandoning ship than my developing a truly deadly illness.

Yet again, the definition of "irony." I'm a handicapped guy worried about becoming ill. And I wounded myself while tending a wound. Go figure.

I'm gonna go onto City of Heroes and fight crime for a bit. Although with the way this day is going, the game will turn on me and my character will be arrested for vigilantism.

Operation: Surgery!

It would seem that when I break things, I break them real good...or something like that.

I saw the surgeon today, and it would seem that Becky is getting her wish. She was hoping that my left knee issues would require surgery so we could just get them out of the way. Well, the doc wants to "scope my knee." Without any new pictures, he thinks there's a big tear in there. I would ask for a second opinion, or demand an MRI or some such, but the fact it seems my knee cap is rolling over another bone when I bend it at an acute angle is enough for me to sit back and simply nod my head. Becky spent two weeks listening to it happen over and over again, and winced a few times when she heard it. Well, my love...imagine what it FEELS like!

A couple of things stand out from this visit. First, the doc's initial reaction was, "It sounds like you have some arthritis issues." Ummm...Arthritis? This isn't arthritis. Arthritis is what I have in the joint of my right big toe, and it feels like I'm perpetually walking on broken glass. The current problem with my knee is like it's dislocating, but without cause. Then again, it may be similar to what happened in the right knee, where the arthritis ended up tearing my medial meniscus. I suppose we'll find out.

The other thing was a warning: if my hemoglobin A1c comes back at more than 7, there will be no surgery. Personally, I don't understand this, as he operated on me when I was at 8.1. In fact, despite being that high, I was told during the recovery of my last knee surgery that I was healing better than people who are NOT diabetics. (I even said as much here, in the fourth paragraph.) If the surgeon doesn't fix me due to a "slightly" elevated HbA1c, then I guess I'll have me some suffering to do until I can get even MORE control of my diabetes.

But that's just it. My diabetes has never been in perfect control. The 8.1 I had back in July is infinitely better than, say, the 15 I had as a teenager. (And that just proves how STUPID I once was!) Stress and infections only make the result of the test worse. Being in pain all of the time (knee, knee, knee) doesn't help either.

Thus, tomorrow or Monday, I'll be off to get blood work done. They require a fasting sugar from me, so I couldn't just get it out of the way today. Why, when I was right there at the hospital, should they make it easy to get it done today? Right?

And that's all I have at the moment. I didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm going to work on getting some rest.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creep

Have you paid any attention to the music covering the trailer for "The Social Network"? It's Creep, originally performed by Radiohead. Here...have a listen to the rerecording. There's something incredibly haunting about it when it's set to such clear, youthful voices. It drags me back several decades, back to high school, where I was the Creep in the song.

G-d, I carry so much baggage around! Why Becky wants to be with me is beyond my understanding. She should flee as fast as possible, finding someone younger and healthier. Instead, I've been told that my offers of escape have to stop...and they have. Doesn't stop me from thinking it, though.

So before I break down in tears, (as I have that song playing in the background on YouTube), I suppose I should give a bit of an update on the most recent trip to the pain specialist.

This month's shot included a new ingredient. Not only was it chock full of steroids and local anesthesia, but GLUCOSE! "Wait, Rob...The doctor gave a diabetic NOT experiencing low blood sugar a shot of glucose?" Yes...Yes, he did. Using his words as best I remember them, "It seems insanity to give a diabetic glucose, but it works with the collagen. Hopefully, this will make the shot last longer. The ultimate goal is for you to not need these shots."

Well, it all SOUNDS good, but is it good? I'll find out when this last shot takes effect. If it lasts longer, then I'll be an infinitely happier camper. Still, I wish there was something he could do for the arthritic joint of my big toe. He injected it over a month ago and it had no effect.

Ah, but perhaps we'll have some more answers when I FINALLY get that MRI of my foot. I reminded him of his desire to have one done, and I was handed a prescription to have one done. I would have called to schedule it, but then...

I'm seeing the orthopedic surgeon again tomorrow! (Yay?) I mentioned my left knee issues last post. Well, the doc may be asking for an MRI of that too. If I need to have such things done, I might as well get them done together. And so I wait.

Also...EWWWWW! I just remembered that my appointment with the surgeon is in the MORNING. Mornings and I only got along while I was at Becky's. Now that I'm back in Kansas, it would seem mornings and I have resumed our standing disagreement.

Meanwhile, I'm off to do other things. I may feel like a "creep" from time to time, but Becky makes me feel special, and that's the feeling I should ride along with.

Be well.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Giant steps

Well, I'm back in KS, and life is about to return to what I consider normal. Doctor appointments, drug quests...and packing. Becky's last day of classes before4 Spring Break will be on 4 March, and she'll be on her way to move me to PA the very next day. And let me just say, for the record, that I'm absolutely terrified.

Experience has taught me nothing good about relationships. If I had any truly wonderful tales to tell, I wouldn't have been single when I met Becky. So I'm still living in fear that things won't work out once I move. Oh, it's scary enough in its own, knowing that things could fall apart. But Cody kind of made it a touch scarier. You see, if things don't work out with me and Becky, I'll have nowhere to go. Why? Becfause once I move out, Cody and Ray will be looking to replace me, probably with someone who pays rent, and not a freeloading bastard like myself. (Not accurate, as I help with plenty of things around here. It's just that an official number for rent was never established.)

Terrifying as it is, I don't think my fears are justified. Becky and I just got a good taste of what life will be like together, and it was wonderful. There was plenty of affection without smothering, along with lots of love, conversation, and contentedness. The only things that seemed to be missing while I was visiting her in PA were my computer and my cat.

And so it is that I will begin packing, probably some time next week. You see, I'm tired of these cardboard boxes that are barely staying together with my possessions. It's time I bought proper storage containers and put my possessions away inside them in some semblance of order.

Of course, being able to pack will also rely on what the orthopedic surgeon says about my left knee.

Yes, once again, my time with Becky was disrupted by some medical difficulty. When we met for the first time, I blew out my right knee. The second time I saw her face-to-face, I developed the cold from Hades. This time, my left knee started popping with such power that it felt, and still feels, like bones are being forcefully relocated. We joked that it's her presence that's been causing me difficulties, and that moving in might cause me to explode. Jokes aside, I get the feeling my left knee need to be worked on for a third time. (Because two prior surgeries on that knee aren't enough, and everyone knows "the third time's a charm.")

Also, as seems usual, I'm dealing with an infected wound on my right leg. Stupid me, I picked at a piece of dead skin on my lower leg, and it became infected almost immediately. When I got home this evening, I was able to apply my prescription antibiotic cream on it, as well as pop an oral antibiotic. I'm hoping this thing heals up swiftly, because if I need surgery...well, the doc won't operate if I have a wound that's already infected.

Aside from that, the only other news to report is about Nike, who was VERY upset with me upon my return. I had DARED to go away for an extended period, and now I must pay the price. Like the wife I claim she is, she's been giving me "a talking to" since I entered my room. She's been demanding as much attention as she can, and complains when I dare to do something other than hold her in my lap and pet her.

Thus, I'm going to keep this short. Besides, it was yet another lengthy bus ride with little actual rest. Plenty of sleep, but no rest. Hopefully, I'll get some tonight...if Nike lets me sleep.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dumb TV

One of the "benefits" of staying with Becky at her place is that she has basic cable. It's included in her rent, and she'll be upgrading the account to include the internet. It's a supposed minor expense, but it will improve the connection she gets with the current Wifi that's included in the rent.

When she's off at work, I have plenty of time to kill. Sure, I can play computer or console games, but the draw of television after so long without it is fairly strong. Oddly, I find myself drawn to "Tru TV," which has numerous shows containing lots of reality. Cop shows. Shows with morons caught on video. Programs that showcase "interesting" professions. That kind of thing. Between that, the American Movie Channel, and a station known as TNT, I have plenty to watch during the day. In short, I am entertained.

What gets me are the DUMB commercials. Lots and lots of dumb commercials.

The first one of note is for a phone company. It presents itself as a fairy tale about a giant grocery store manager that wants to be small. His dream is completely overlooked, and is instead given a smaller phone bill. I have, much to my regret, seen this commercial a score of times, and it makes no sense whatsoever. He wants to be small, is given a smaller bill, and is happy? I don't get it.

Then there's the one for the ASPCA. They play a sad song, show a lot of cute animals, and have descriptions of them...how they've been abused, abandoned, and lacking love. Apparently, if you join the ASPCA and give some money, they'll send you a picture of the animal you help. To me, this is a waste of effort. What they should be doing is trying to find homes for these poor animals. Instead, they want me to give money and I receive a heartbreaking picture to remind me that a poor, homeless animal is still without someone to love it? Their campaign should be for adoption. True animal lovers would do what I did. Nike is a rescued animal. They should be making gentle pushes for people to adopt something other than puppies and kittens. Older dogs and cats need homes and love too. Push for that, and not just money for a picture.

While I enjoy TNT, their slogan bothers me to no end. "TNT...We know drama." So they started advertising for two of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. Each promo would end with their slogan, and I was on the cusp of shouting at the television. "TNT presents the drama of 'The Lord of the Rings." TNT...We know drama." And there I am, finishing for them, "We know drama, and this isn't it...because it's FANTASY!"

Finally, I STILL have issues with the phrase "lightning fast internet." Using a cable of any sort means your computer is trading electrical impulses with a server. Last time I checked, lightning was raw electricity. Those signals are going to go as fast as the processors in the computers can provide. "Lightning fast?" It's a dumb phrase. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb!

And that's my gripe for today. In a matter of days, I'll start bemoaning the fact that I'll be leaving Becky behind once again. =(

Be well, all.