Saturday, August 27, 2011

My toe can't make up its mind

Yesterday, my toe was doomed. DOOMED, I TELL YOU! And today, when my podiatrist examined it, it was much better. The x-rays also indicated no signs of osteomyelitis. So surgery is NOT being scheduled, as he wants to give this toe a chance to heal. Mind you, he seems willing to schedule surgery if that's what I want, but because it somehow miraculously started healing overnight, he says we should wait.

Really, what the heck? Has a tiny brain grown inside the toe and started playing head games with me? "First, I'll make him panic. Then I'll give him reason to contemplate surgery. Then, I'll give him hope. But in the end, I will thrust DOOM upon him! (Insert evil laughter.)"

My new instructions are to change the bandage every day, and to followup with the doctor weekly. And after that...I have no idea.

The big change today was that when he probed the wound, he was unable to hit bone. This had the doctor scratching his head in wonder, as my previous posts have all said what he's noted: this thing was only getting worse over time. As to why it's been behaving like a bone infection...? We have a new theory. Y'see, he moved the toe around a bit, and it bent in directions it shouldn't go. Instead of the infection settling into the bone and causing THAT to disintegrate, it seems to have settled into the tendon...destroying that instead.

Also on the list of things that happened today was a great debate about whether or not I should get a new cast. I was sincerely hoping to avoid it. I mean...a shower! A shower without having to wrap the cast in a plastic bag! A shower that wasn't a balancing exercise for my left leg! A chance for Becky and I to...

PG-13...PG-13...PG-13...

He'd changed his mind. I was leaving with a cast, whether I wanted one or not. He offered the chance for a soft cast, and I'd have to wear my CAM walker all the time, or a regular cast. Well, the CAM walker is huge, and would make sleeping difficult. I also confessed immediately, "Put me in a soft cast, and I'm going to end up cheating by removing the CAM walker when I slept or had to shower." And so I was put in a hard cast, with ongoing instructions to stay off it as much as possible.

And I thought this doctor liked me. =(

That's all there is on my end, with one other notable exception. I have numerous friends living in the path of hurricane Irene. Please be safe. If a mandatory evacuation is called for, GO! Don't stay behind because you're afraid someone will loot your stuff, or that you want to protect your stuff from possible flood damage. Stuff can be replaced. You - my friends - can't.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to business

Amidst all the banter pertaining to the troll, it was said to me that I was apparently putting too much into being aloof. I honestly wasn't trying that hard, but abandoning the running commentary should be taken seriously. There are other matters at hand.

Or at foot, as the case may be. This is going to be another graphic one, so discontinue reading if your stomach is as sensitive as mine turned out to be.

My podiatry visit this morning began with my telling the doctor we needed to have a serious discussion about the second toe on my left foot. Then I went into my ER visit. He asked if they'd x-rayed the toe or taken a culture of what was coming out of the wound. "No," I told him. "I suggested a culture, but they didn't deem the wound that serious."

Had the doctor on duty that night bothered to debride the wound, he might have had a different opinion. My podiatrist did exactly that, and exposed entirely too much bone for my stomach's liking. I took very deep breaths to keep myself from tossing my cookies on Becky, the doctor, and/or the wound. The flesh around the wound is simply dying, with no visible happy ending for the toe.

I made that the question to my doctor. "Do you honestly see a happy ending for this toe?" No, he didn't. In fact, because of the wound's behavior, he stated that he was 98% sure I had osteomyelitis. He ordered more x-rays, but agreed that it was time for this toe to go. Not the whole toe, but at least the end of it. I was smart enough to bring the orders from my PCP for blood work, which would be required for surgery. I asked if there was anything else needed for the pre-surgical test work, and was told it seemed enough was being done.

We then covered how the procedure would go. It would start with an injection of what my doctor called "Michael Jackson Juice." Basically, the same drug that had been mismanaged and killed Michael Jackson would be used. In professional terms, it's actually called "twilight anesthesia." I'd likely sleep, but could be prodded to respond to instructions should the need arise. Then he would make two incisions that left enough skin to use as flaps over where half of the toe would come off. He'll cut through what connective tissues there are, take the end of the toe off, then seal it up by stitching the flaps closed. Before he committed to closing me up, he'll take a sample of the next bone and have it cultured for possibly more infection.

Now, much to my surprise, this whole thing is ambulatory surgery. In by early morning, out by mid-afternoon. That particular idea has me worried. My penchant for infection means that this surgery could very well turn this fix into a greater disaster. So it was that I requested I be admitted for at least three days to receive IV antibiotics. Then, if they want to send my home to finish off with oral antibiotics, so be it.

My podiatrist appreciated my concern fully, and said he would consult with my PCP. If necessary, he said he would try to contact what he called "a hospitalist." The latter would inevitably involve a small army of infectious disease doctors, who would likely leap upon the idea of cutting off parts to save the whole.

So why go this route? Why cut off the end of my toe when it is only a wound that, after taking a peek at the x-rays, doesn't appear to have osteomyelitis? It's position, being on the second toe and in constant contact with the great toe, it is constantly being agitated. Even when wrapped in gauze, the gauze itself perpetually rubs against the wound. Each time my doctor debrides the wound, he ends up removing more and more useless flesh, exposing even more bone. In short, it's not healing AT ALL!

Tomorrow, I'll be seeing my podiatrist again. The purpose is to discuss the probable surgery further, as well as replacing the cast that's been on my right foot for longer than three weeks. Mind you, there is a possibility of not receiving a cast, and hobbling out only in my CAM walker. Should the latter happen, there will be a great, celebratory shower that, for the first time in months, will not involve a careful balancing act. And then, without this damnable cast on my right foot...

Y'know, I think this is the perfect place to simply end my post, as my blog is about to leap from being PG-13 to something more...adult.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oops...I fed the troll.

Had a feeling I might have done that. My bad.

Yet another gutless comment from "Anonymous." Rather than publish it as a comment, allow me to do it right here for all to see: "Definitely not friendless. I thoroughly enjoy Watching you come apart at the seams. Loving every minute of this. Can't wait for Your girlfriend to dump your worthless self" Lack of a period at the end and unusual capitalization included.

Really, this level of venom can only be coming from two people that I can think of.

The first, but not primary suspect, is Stu. The thing is, he IS friendless, and has acknowledged this as being one of the key reasons leading to his potential divorce. He took pity of my biological mother, "Destroyer of Worlds," and actually took her in. I don't think he'd be wishing me dead. If anything, he's basking in the idea that I may well have been disowned, and now gets a bigger portion of whatever my father may leave behind. If, by some chance, it IS him, then he seems to have forgotten how I dropped everything, and with the help of a great many wonderful people, I was able to rush to his side when he tore his ascending aorta...and then miraculously lived. No...I think this is too callous, even for him. Besides, if he wanted to make a dig at me, he'd send me a message through other venues.

This leaves Psycho Lass, whom, during her time of crisis, when I tried to help, I invited to come read this blog in an attempt to get to know me better. It was a "read, know me, trust me, and let me help" kind of thing. She's exactly the kind of heartless person to state that she'd like to see me commit suicide or see me abandoned by my "girlfriend." She's exactly the kind of individual who, because she doesn't know or understand me, would say such things that only inspire greater things in my life.

Still, because this person insists on the cowardly method of hiding his/her identity, I'm left only with hypothesis. So...Meh. Mark it as spam and be done with this person.

Ultimately, it's sad. The claim of not being friendless is an obvious falsehood, as someone filled with such hate cannot possibly know what true friendship is. To deem me, a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and cares so much about so many people, and is cared for by so many people, as worthless means that he/she wouldn't know a true friend if one hit stood in front of him/her with a neon sign that actually read "true friend." Assuming this is Psycho Lass at work, and that IS my main assumption, then all of her "friends" are hanging around because she's easy on the eyes...and, according to her own statements, just "easy." Her friends will make a claim of caring because a picture of her looks good on their mantle. She's the kind of person who has over 500 friends on Facebook...and each as "valuable" as her, and none of whom are true friends.

As to the thorough enjoyment of watching me "come apart at the seams," I can only assume it's too much television that makes you sound like a cliche villain. (You failed, however, to add "Mwahahaha!") This is the kind of person who volunteers at a pediatric cancer ward, then visits the kids individually to say, "Thank you for dying. Just one request...Could you speed it up? You're using up my precious air."

I was once as foolish and angry as you, and I would wish great harm on a variety of people. But being that kind of person hurt me more than others. Perhaps you'll learn this. Most likely, you won't. You're simply not bright enough to understand what caring and love are all about.

Speaking of love, the fact that you CAN'T wait for my "girlfriend" to dump my worthless self...? Well, if you can't wait, then I suggest you stop right now. You're only going to hurt yourself. Your last comment that I should kill myself only strengthened the bonds between us. (Oh, and she hopes your herpes flareup clears up soon; maybe then you'll be able to return to your life instead of TRYING to pick on someone you obviously don't know.) You may continue to hope that she will abandon me, but you're going to end up wasting a lot of time on a false hope.

Honestly, I don't understand this adamant hatred of me. I don't actively wish harm on anyone anymore. That was reserved for a younger, dumber version of myself. I just don't care about someone who becomes a problem. Like you. Do you honestly think your comments are having any great affect on my life? You're just giving me writing material. Every comment you make increases the pity I feel for you, as you have no understanding of the true qualities of life, love, and laughter. Your claim to love every minute of my suffering couldn't be more false. What's obvious is that you can't stand that I have genuine support from those who truly know me.

And I will give you an example of that support. You see, I shared your "lovely little comment" elsewhere. One of my friends, (one I've had for decades, mind you), had this to say: "One has to wonder how little this 'person' has in their life that your 'undoing' seems to be the highlight of their life...just saying. I say if your up to feed the troll, eventually the bridge it's under will collapse on them."

So ends this feeding session of the troll. Tune in next session, when the creature stamps the ground repeatedly in an infantile manner and yells, "I hate you! I hate you! I hope you get hit by a truck, you big dumb jerk!" Same troll-time, same troll-channel. =)

Oh...and to my friends: Be well, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Too many titles

"Adventures in trolling." "ER Escapades." "The Depression Thread Live!" "Captain Comedy Goes to the Hospital." I couldn't decide which to put up there.

First, you really have to love someone who hides behind the name "Anonymous" and tells you that killing yourself is a good idea. At this point, the list of suspects is too long to pin down who would say such a thing. (Although the writing style does point to one person, but I can't be sure.) I deleted the comment, as I need no further vitriol from someone without the guts to identify themselves. What's more, I simply pity them. It must be rough living without an emotional heart. =*(

Anyway, I should get to my great toe adventure, which is scary, annoying, stupid, and...well, it's an ongoing list of negative adjectives. BE WARNED: I'm going to describe the situation rather graphically. I can only hope you haven't eaten before reading.

It started when I went to change the dressing on the toe. This is the second toe on my left foot; the same one up for debate when I see my podiatrist about whether or not it should simply be removed. The toe, itself, now hurts all the time. That's saying something, when you consider that the doctor was able to probe the wound down to the bone without my feeling a thing. It was ACTIVELY draining, blood and clear pus, which is not something it's done before. Parts of the area around the wound look like they're literally dying. Becky took one look and practically went into panic mode, but left it up to me as to what we should do.

I refused to do anything immediately. If the loss of this toe was going to be forced, it wouldn't happen until the next day, anyway. But I DID believe I needed the attention of an emergency room. Still, Becky had a class to attend, and I wasn't going to let her skip that. (Yeah, I got my priorities all ironed out.) When she got home, I'd take a shower, (the last I might get to take in a long time), and then we'd be off.

Yeah...things should be that easy in my life. She was home by 6:30, and we didn't get to the ER until around 8:00. And then we waited...and waited...and waited.

There were a number of people ahead of me, and one of them was a woman in her late 60s. She was suffering with bleeding ulcers, and was miserable with them. What's more, she couldn't help bringing up the fact that she'd just lost her husband of 47 years on 7 March. She revealed she was on antidepressants, but made it sound like she might not be taking them daily. I stressed that she needed to do so, and might want to inquire about anti-anxiety meds...because the mere mention of her husband brought her to the brink of tears. I also told her to seek grief counseling, as I have never known what to properly say to someone facing the loss of a loved one.

Okay...so that covered "The DT Live" portion. Now for the part where those who prefer to vilify me can see that I'm actually a nice guy, if they'd just allow me to be so.

I'd been waiting about two hours. The woman with the ulcers had been waiting for three. When the head nurse came out and called me back, I asked why the woman with the ulcers wasn't being seen before me. I was in discomfort and semi-panicked, but had a bit of Valium on board to keep me calm. This woman had nothing save her faith that the doctors would be able to do something to help. So the head nurse went back to see what was going on...and didn't return for another 45 minutes. In the end, the woman with the ulcers was taken before me...

...but the ER was insanely busy that night. One ambulance after another was rolling up with serious cases, and they took priority over someone "with a boo boo on his toe."

While some of my time was spent reading, a great deal of time was spent talking to people around me, and keeping them laughing. Once I start telling a story, I can usually put a comedic spin on it to keep those who listen entertained. (The troll who suggested killing myself would be good seems to find humor in the fact that my life is often crap, so I guess it works here, too.) My beloved certainly adds to those tales, as some of our funnier adventures receive an ongoing commentary from her perspective. At one point, it would almost seem that I was being verbally abusive to her as she headed to the vending machines for a snack. Once she was gone, I said, "You only think I'm getting away with that. She's gonna kick the crap out of me later." I got another laugh, which was good.

Speaking of abuse...It would seem that one of the standard questions asked by the triage nurse was whether or not the patient is being abused at home. When she asked this, I remained silent, but looked directly at Becky, who cracked up. Any physical "abuse" occurs by accident, such as an elbow to the face while trying to get comfortable in bed, or accidentally stepping on one anothers toes. And the verbal abuse...it's rare, and always done with humor. Becky and I are entirely too in love to intentionally harm one another.

My time in the ER was producing a rather large problem for me. My blood sugar was rising due to the stress of events pertaining to the toe, and I hadn't thought to bring insulin...or painkillers, for that matter. As my sugar went up, so did the pain throughout my body from neuropathy. Thus, at around the four-hour mark, I asked about what would happen if I simply went home and tried again the next day. I was warned that my wait could be just as long, as well as the fact that I could get billed directly for having registered, but not stayed to see a doctor. Lovely. But I got permission to send Becky home for meds.

The problem there was that I wasn't being seen for anything that was suddenly causing me trouble. I was there for a toe, and if I was admitted to the hospital, then they'd give me all the meds I needed. But because I hadn't even been seen by a doctor, my beloved had to run home to get me what I needed. She returned with insulin and painkillers, and I took the appropriate doses immediately. I was blessedly feeling better in about an hour...but still had that toe to worry about.

It took six hours for me to be called into the back. Six hours! Between the ambulances almost constantly rolling up, and the people waiting ahead of me in the ER, it was a mighty long wait...for nothing.

The timing was perfect. I was called back just after all but ONE doctor had been left behind to care for patients. How any emergency room could operate in such a way is beyond me. And when he examined my toe, he didn't see the things I saw. For G-d's sake, just a squeeze of the toe had more blood and pus, (not the clear stuff this time), would ooze out of the never closing wound. He cared nothing about the fact that the placement of the wound meant it was probably never going to heal. That it perpetually hurt in a guy whose nervous system was shot also didn't register. In his eyes, I just wasn't sick enough.

Both the doctor and the nurse said something that really didn't make me feel any better. "I've seen worse." Really? Because I haven't. If anything, this toe just appears worse and worse and worse as it goes along, but apparently I have to wait until it's gangrene before anyone will do anything about it. To me, that's absurd. No one ants to take care of this while it's just a problem, but would certainly jump through hoops if it was a MAJOR problem.

Next time, however, I'm considering dropping a steak knife, point down, on my bare foot. Surely the spurting of blood will get me faster attention, as well as a slight degree of proper care.

Before I go...Those who comment negatively under the name of "Anonymous"...male or female, you should grow a pair. You don't like what I have to say here? Don't read it. It's THAT simple. But if you DO read, and you feel the need to leave one of your disparaging comments, have the chutzpah to ID yourself or go back to your friendless corner and stay quiet.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Step-mother to me: F.O., you bastard.

I've been working on a letter to my father. I felt the only way I could get any kind of message to him was to write a letter, send it via snail mail, and I would FINALLY be able to get through to him. I finished it up last night, showed it to Becky...and then added just a bit more this morning. When I was done, I still had my doubts about sending it, so I thought to call my step-mother in the hopes of receiving feedback.

Instead, the woman ripped me a new one, smack in the middle of my forehead.

This blog isn't written for family. It's written as a kind of journal for myself, and to keep my friends apprised of what's going on in my life. I never advertised it to my blood relations, but Stu somehow found it. And since he doesn't enjoy it when I actually speak my mind, I believe he went and shared his misery...by showing my blog to my father. No one knew who my family members were. There was no one seeking them out to say horrible things to them. My father, who really wouldn't have searched for this blog...apparently found it, and was supremely hurt by it.

My step-mother didn't hold back at all. And when I tried to oppose anything she said, it was cause for more yelling. "We welcomed you with love." No, I was welcomed with dread. A kind of, Oh, crap. It's the sickly one. Please let him say nothing, because we don't really want to hear it. And that's not even my imagination! There was a point when I tried to discuss a medical issue, (one of the many, of which I've forgotten which specific one this might have been), to which he said, and I quote, "I don't want to hear that right now." And it essentially happened again when I saw my father on the 6th.

It's actually kind of amazing how my family is aware of only my diabetes. At any given moment, I'll receive a talking to about the care of this one, and only one disease. But when it comes to keeping in mind that I'm emotionally ill, that gets ignored, and I'll receive a verbal beating without so much as a second thought.

Ah, but I'm repeating that which was said in my letter. As long as I know they're coming here to read what I write, perhaps I'll just go ahead and post the letter here. In that way, I won't have to waste the money on an envelope and postage. Mind you, it would take a few posts, as the letter is almost 5,000 words. After the mistake of trying to seek my step-mother's counsel, it may end up being longer.

But it was truly a special moment, having her yell at me, telling me that I was an ungrateful little bastard, posting such horrible things about my father on the internet. Instead of saying, "Wow, something is truly wrong if Rob feels this way. I should talk to him," it was handled in the traditional style of a family that doesn't talk TO one another. "We will wait for him to make the mistake of calling, and then we will ostracize him, and try to make him feel even worse." Yeah...that's more of the tradition in my family.

I'm the family freak, trying to talk to other people, including them. I never learned how to spread misery for the sake of spreading misery. I'm a terrible, terrible son for caring, and being hurt when dismissed with the wave of an uncaring hand. Perhaps I should have tried harder when I attempted suicide, as it doesn't seem to matter to them that I lived.

So, to review.

1: On the 6th of August, I was made to feel worthless by Stu and my father, topped by getting sick in the middle of the night.
2: Last weekend, the one site where I thought I was welcome exploded over mistakes that I made, and I declared a self-imposed banishment on myself.
3: Today, my familial value, (or lack thereof), was confirmed, and I was actually told to "have a nice life," and then hung up on.

My severe recurring depression is DEFINITELY recurring. And I'm starting to think that, regardless of what's said or done, the world would be a far better place without me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yet another open love letter...

To My Sweet, Beautiful Becky,

It's that time again. A few months roll by, filled with love, laughter, drama, and sadness...and through it all, you are at my side, helping me to endure. And while we still say it every day, it remains important to me that you see it in writing. That you can copy and paste it somewhere, perhaps print it out, and when we're apart for whatever reason, be able to take it out and read the words I'm unable to say in those moments.

These last two weeks have been particularly trying. Starting with the stressful visit with my father and company, to the virtual explosion online, my life has become something of an emotional hell. I always deem it a terrible thing when I have to live through such things. I become so angry...so frustrated...and usually so sad. All of those emotions bring me to the brink of tears, which I try to fight as best I can...and then deem myself weak when I'm unable to hold them back. And what made these recent experiences that much worse was the fact that you had to share in them. To see my emotions reflected back...it was welcomed to have someone to share in the burden, frightening to see such anger, and upsetting that you had to share any of it in any way.

I sank, my love. I was prepared to self-destruct in terrible ways. But it was you - wonderful you - who held me together.

Even without my promise to you, your very presence was enough to make me rethink any of the tainted thoughts that went screaming through my head. Just having you here, with you willing to hold me...kiss me...talk to me. All of those things made enduring these hellish weeks bearable.

Most treasured were those moments, every night, when we could "assume cuddle positions," and just hold one another close and talk. Venting about our now shared troubles. Or you diverting the conversation to our plans for the wedding. The corny jokes that would slip from my mouth to make you laugh and return a smile to my face. There are times when I could well be advertised as an "evil genius." If such a label were given to you, it would be that of "loving genius." Because even when you weren't trying, I felt loved.

I'm sure you don't mind, but an open note like this needs to make mention that my love is not saved for you alone. There are numerous friends out there who also helped me through the most recent drama. Their love and laughter also helped me through what has been a most trying time.

That said, they should not take offense when I say that it was you, my sweet, beautiful Becky, who kept me in one piece. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go through all of this alone, and can no longer see my future without you attached to it. You keep telling me that I don't need to do this often, as I essentially wrote you a 50,000 word love letter last November. Still, there is a part of that letter that stands out, and I choose now to paraphrase what was said there.

Becky, I honestly never thought the day would come; that something would occur to keep me from living a lonely existence for all eternity. Then my life stumbled upon yours, and you changed my life forever, as I now know, without doubt, that there will never be another woman even close to resembling you. You are my heart...my mind...and my soul. And I vow to do all in my power, despite whatever odds, to keep our lives filled with life, love, and laughter. Long before the vows are to be made, I will honor and cherish you until my dying day.

I think that about covers it for now. I know you're waiting for me to finish this so we can get to our evening cuddles. And believe me, my love, I am looking forward to it, as I usually am every night.

With an excessive amount of love,
Your Wonderful, Handsome Rob

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The dust won't settle...

...until people are done slinging stones at one another.

BEFORE I GO FURTHER: I want people to READ what I'm writing. Don't read between the lines. Don't get caught up in the cyclical wind of the BS. Pay careful attention to what I'm saying, okay?

Many of my recent posts have been chock full of upset, and I believe it was my right to be so. I'd managed to become the center of a crap-storm, which is nothing like the oddly peaceful eye of a hurricane. (Then again, I've never been at the eye of a hurricane, so what the hell do I know?) I'm trying to induce a bit of reasoning amidst the emotions I'm suffering, but it's very hard considering that I am fighting an emotional illness kicked up to its maximum.

Psycho Lass did NOT make me leave. Not her alone. I've said this several times, yet she alone is carrying the blame. The focus has been on her as the culprit because she was the last to bring that special brand of hurt to me. Let me make this as clear as possible: SHE WAS THE LAST PERSON TO HURT ME, AND THEREFORE BECAME THE PERSON TO PUSH ME OVER THE "LEAVING" EDGE! It could have been anyone, but she was the lucky prize winner. There seems to be a great deal of dislike for her across the internet, which makes it that much easier to demonize her. Fine. Let all other things, like her hatred for the denizens of the Playground, or her boasting about being a slut and then crying "rape" fuel your rage. But my leaving was my choice, and not something she did. Okay? Are we clear?

When I read that "more than one of my moderators suggested your instant banning," I ran to see if those whom I called "friend" had been behind it. The reactions were astonishing. Two had no idea what I was talking about. Another simply said that they were for my infraction, but not my banning, (and I suspect that one had no idea what I was talking about, either). I get the feeling that "more than one" translated to "one," and I believe Psycho Lass has his winky wrapped around her little finger. (*sigh* And I used to think he was so awesome.)

Prior to judgment falling down on me, I contacted a mod and asked that the suspected mod heading up the investigation be recused from it. I made sure to avoid asking anyone whom I call friend, as that would be unfair. In turn, I was assured by the mod I wrote to that it would be a fair investigation.

Uh huh. Sure.

In a criminal investigation, there's a little something called "intent" that investigators look at. I don't think anyone looked at my intentions. If they had, banning wouldn't have become part of any conversation at all. No one came to ask me a thing. Also ignored was the second to last and last PM sent to Psycho Lass. The first told her to stop talking to me (amidst a list of things she should or shouldn't have done). The last to her to stop talking to me and added the word "thanks" to the end. I'm willing to lay odds that my request she stop talking to me was ignored, but I'll never know.

You see, even though some mods are my friends, they can't up and tell me what went on behind the scenes. It'd be nice so that I, and my other friends, could have specific targets to blame, (and we sure love our targets, don't we?), but the mods can't say anything to me. SO STOP BLAMING ALL OF THE MODS! Please?

Rich...? Him, you can blame. I mean, that PM was sent directly from him and not the moderation staff. The site owner felt it necessary to send me a PM to put me in my place. I mean, wow...I must be some kind of criminal mastermind for that to happen. And the mere mention of a criminal investigation...? THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT WHAT WAS SAID. Of course, to a guy certified with a couple of mental illnesses, that's almost as good as making the threat. I probably won't be feeling safe in my home until around some time in November. And that he felt the need to be candid...? There was no need for it. In fact, following what he said in his PM to me about cyberbullying, Rich should be receiving an infraction. I mean, he was "using [his] community influence to belittle, attack, or otherwise ostracize a given user." And believe me, I certainly felt belittled. Hypocrite much?

Oh...wait. I just reread the new rules about cyberbullying. In a most indirect way, I HAVE been threatened. "Should a poster engage in [this] behavior to the level that would meet legal definitions of harassment, the offense will be issued as a Criminal Activity infraction (which will immediately ban them from this site) and we will forward our findings to the relevant law enforcement authorities." It may be an indirect threat after the fact, but it DEFINITELY feels like a threat now. (It's nice to not feel safe in my home. No, really...it is.) And the added bit about using information from other sites...? I didn't know Rich had taken ownership of the internet.

Great. Now I don't feel safe even posting on my blog. Read this while you can, as it may well get deleted...or used in my prosecution. Y'know...because being upset is now a crime.

About being upset that the Depression Thread is now eternally closed...I'm not going to win any friends with this one, but now that we all see the damage a psychological thread can do, why are the LGBTA and RWA threads still open? Have they somehow been emotionally disconnected from their topics? What's fair is fair, and those threads are just asking to become the same crap storm the Depression Thread turned into. The indignation as to what's fair and what isn't is oddly lopsided. I really do appreciate the support I've received, but, my friends, that which is right or wrong is right or wrong in all directions, not just one.

As to the topic of demonizing me...HOW MANY TIMES MUST I ADMIT THAT I INADVERTENTLY DID WRONG AND APOLOGIZE FOR IT? There was a pair of posts that I deleted in the hopes of misdirecting people from Psycho Lass. In one of them, I TRIED to joke that Psycho Lass "wasn't the boss of me." I even had one of those goofy emoticons next to it. I believe this was what one "friend" called "pretty mean." Said "friend" went on to call me "childish." Posted publicly on Facebook, was there the idea that I wouldn't see this and also NOT be hurt by it? And this comment was made after a call to that friend, in which they said they understood my side of things, and that we were "still cool."

That's a minus one on my friends list on FB, I guess.

I would like to remind my friends of the less than secret fact that I suffer from a nasty mental illness. It was officially called "severe recurring depression." I suppose it's about as close to being bipolar without have some kind of regular cycle. This whole thing has kicked my depression into overdrive, and I've had to make repeated promises to Becky that I will not be killing myself in the near future...

...but I'll be damned if I don't WANT to. This is my illness talking, folks, and not the somewhat balanced Rob you all know and love. This spectacular crap storm has me thinking that if I weren't alive, there would be a slew of people better off, including Psycho Lass. I didn't intend to hurt her, and it's possible that her penchant for drama was the true cause of her rage, but it remains possible that she really was hurt by my actions. And my nature is to make a perpetual attempt to be a nice guy. ATTEMPT being a key word there. I sometimes slip up, as humans will do. And every time I fail to meet my own standards of what a good human being is, I want to throw in the towel and be done with this entire "life" thing.

And believe me when I tell you that I have the means to do it fairly swiftly and painlessly. Morphine, oxycodone, Xanax, Valium, Fentanyl...I have enough pharmacological stuff here to put an elephant down. I could do it...

...BUT I WON'T! Why? Because I live by the mantra that "a promise made is a promise kept." Like the promise I made to Psycho Lass. I told her that I wouldn't intentionally hurt her. In my eyes, I kept that promise, even though she believes I purposely set out to destroy her. It was NEVER my intention to hurt her. But this is about why I'm not hiding somewhere, crafting an eternal goodbye...and that's because I promised Becky that I wouldn't.

So here I am, stuck in this high strung state of emotion. And what I really want most is to see the dust settle, and all of this fall behind EVERYONE. This event has become the topic of conversation entirely too much of late. It's done. Let it stay done. Because if it keeps going, promise or no promise, my body will self-destruct on its own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On a side note...

As a result of this entire stupid adventure:

1: The Depression Thread has been moved, completely out of sight.
2: My post in the Goodbye Thread has been removed.
3: All posts following my goodbye in GT were also deleted, including that of Psycho Lass.

Really, this was spectacular work on her part. I made a few mistakes. She obliterated part of the Playground. I hope she's happy.

And the witch hunt ends

Wow...a major infraction from a forum I'm leaving. Someone remind me to cry at a later date.

"...bringing the nature of a private discussion into a public thread without the permission of the other participant." So, I got hurt...said I got hurt...tried desperately not to point fingers...rushed as best as possible to see that fingers couldn't be pointed...she makes it clear that it was her of whom I spoke...and *I* brought the nature of the private conversation into the open?

Well, perspective is everything, and I could very well be incredibly wrong about it. I would ask that a mod point out exactly where I revealed the nature of our conversation, but I'll get to that later.

"At this time, the Rules of Posting do not include specific penalties for harassment/stalking, such as sending PMs to another poster after they have specifically asked that one stop, or for so-called 'cyberbullying,' wherein a poster uses their community influence to attack, belittle, or otherwise ostracize a given user. If we did, you would be receiving a separate infraction for that as well." Well, I pushed for an alternative form of contact because GitP limits the amount of messaging, and thought Facebook would give us more room to chat. Wanting phone calls...? Well, I was hoping to build to that point, to help her gain strength. I don't recall pushing that hard, but...

...well, I made a terrible mistake. You see, when I realized Psycho Lass was so over the edge that no amount of help from me would help her regain an ounce of strength, I ceased contact and deleted all of the messages between us. All I remember is trying to get through her Wall of Crazy to talk to the human being cowering inside her. But as has been said, "There is no Dana, only Zuul." Or something like that. Again, sorry I tried to help.

"...the 'rules' in the first post cannot supersede the forum rules, which indicate that anyone may post on any thread so long as they stay on general topic. No one can 'own' a thread nor proscribe how it is used except for the moderation staff." It's almost as though no one read what I wrote when I edited the first post of the Depression thread. I said, "It was pure ego, I think, to create a bunch of rules that no one followed anyway. (Really...imagine me thinking that I could be the voice of reason here.) So...Just follow the Forum Rules, and good luck." Perhaps I was still too kind with that. Perhaps it should have read, "Suicide implements are available for the asking. Fight the trolls or kill yourselves. It doesn't matter to me. See ya, bitches." But, no...that would be the voice of my evil twin, and we try not to let him see the light of day.

All of the quotes from that PM were in red text, which is meant to be quite serious. But then Rich Burlew just had to take a personal hand in things to...I dunno...make me feel better? More depressed? Bring my diabetes into a state of even worse control? "On a more candid note, I would point out that more than one of my moderators suggested your immediate banning, on the grounds that harassment is a criminal offense in most jurisdictions." I don't recall harassing a soul. When I realized I was pressing Psycho Lass too hard to act something like a human being, I back away so far as to say I was leaving the Playground. I'd been hurt for the last time. The last of many. And now I need to send messages elsewhere to find out if any of my supposed friends are the ones who were willing to vote for my banning.

And Rich...if you ever happen to see this. Your "personal touch" was completely unnecessary. I don't need to know what plans you have in the future for your web site. I certainly don't need to carry the blame for whatever it is you do. And I pray my name and this incident don't EVER get mentioned openly as to why you start changing policy. You've done more than enough harm to me with your "personal touch."

And, yes...this is all about me. Because I really have stopped giving a damn about how others feel. No one really seemed to give a damn how I felt, which was really, really "special" for me.

I'm going to take care of some more on,line business, take more insulin to try and keep myself out of the hospital, and then TRY to rest.

The verdict is in...

(Note, another post will likely follow this dollop of fair judgment.)

Dear Bor the Barbarian Monk,

You have received an infraction at Giant in the Playground Forums.

Reason: Major - External Baggage
-------
This is an infraction for violating this website's rules against bringing External Baggage into threads, specifically for bringing the nature of a private discussion into a public thread without the permission of the other participant.

At this time, the Rules of Posting do not include specific penalties for harassment/stalking, such as sending PMs to another poster after they have explicitly asked that one stop, or for so-called "cyberbullying," wherein a poster uses their community influence with others to attack, belittle, or otherwise ostracize a given user. If we did, you would be receiving a separate infraction for that as well. However, we will be instituting such a penalty in the near future, and you should consider this your Warning regarding that offense.

It is strongly suggested that you be more careful in the future when attempting to contact posters from this site through other means. Understand that no one is obligated to speak to you privately or accept your help under any circumstances. Also, the "rules" in the first post of a thread cannot supersede the forum rules, which indicate that anyone may post on any thread so long as they stay on the general topic. No one can "own" a thread nor proscribe how it is to be used except for the moderation staff.


On a more candid note, I would point out that more than one of my moderators suggested your immediate banning, on the grounds that harassment is a criminal offense in most jurisdictions. If you have any interest in continuing to participate in this website, I'd consider it in your best interest to avoid threads on topics like psychology in the future. As it stands, we are likely going to change the rules to disallow projects like the Depression Thread in the future as a result of these events.
-------

This infraction is worth 100 point(s) and may result in restricted access until it expires. Serious infractions will never expire.

All the best,
Giant in the Playground Forums

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thrown under the bus

Is this the new catch phrase for when someone screws up? It must be, because I screwed up, and have been informed by several people that I threw "her" under the bus. I must say, if it's supposed to be an intentional act, then I'm reaching the point where I'd like to throw her under a long line of industrial tractors. Y'know...the kind with tracks instead of tires. In fact, I could line a few people up for the event. "Anonymous," with his/her deleted comment. Just stand behind Psycho Lass, and try to ignore her screams, okay?

So, let's cover what people are failing to notice, or are blatantly ignoring, shall we?

We'll start with my reason for leaving. Pay attention, kids, because I'm getting a little tired of repeating myself. I HAVE BEEN CONTEMPLATING LEAVING FOR WEEKS. Did you all get that? Weeks. My leaving did not happen because of ONE particular idiot, but several callus people who had either chosen to ignore me completely or told me in oh so many words to go screw. Were those their exact words? No. Was that their sentiment? Whether or not it was, that's what I got out of it. And I was tired of getting hurt.

That being said, THIS PARTICULAR IDIOT JUST WANTED ATTENTION, AND THAT WAS "FORBIDDEN." Just go look at the rules on the DT. Oh, that's right. They're not there. After years of crafting those damn things for people to read and abide by, no one was actually paying attention to them. It was pure ego to think anyone would listen to little old me, and my ego is all but nonexistent. So I went back and erased them and any post pertaining to me and my physical/mental health. (Hence the DT being locked up. Oops. My bad.)

But back to the now-missing rule 9a...It said, "This is the Depression Thread, not the 'Give Me Attention Thread.' Extreme loneliness and isolationism is a symptom of mental illness, and we'll try to help. But if you keep coming back with the same old song, admitting along the way that you've done nothing with the advice previously given, then it becomes clear you don't want help; you want people to notice you. That's easily done in other threads, where a simple post can garner you all the attention you could ever want. But if all you can do is make the same post using different words, go back and read all of the advice you were given the last time around and DO SOMETHING!"

This particular idiot had only really posted once before, (that I know of), and I'd offered my aid. I was politely rejected at that time. Okay. Fine. Then she came along with an epic rant that screamed of not only wanting attention, but of needing help so extreme that what I SHOULD have done was tell her to just go to a hospital. But I didn't. I tried to help instead, and pushed too hard to do so.

AND I ADMITTED THAT! Go look in the Goodbye Thread. "To the person who broke the camel's back...I'm sorry. I really was just insanely worried about you, with 'insanely' perhaps being the key word. Good intentions don't always equate to good deeds." What else would you like me to do? Mail that person my only good foot...the one which will probably be losing a toe in the near future? I could do that, but she wouldn't give me her address. Maybe she'll get a P.O. Box so I can ship it to her anonymously.

And this person for whom the select few are so upset...? Let's talk about her history. It's a history that has been surfacing since this stupidity reached epic levels. She joint GitP to essentially stalk a boy she liked. She flooded the You Thread with her pictures so everyone would say how pretty she was, and thereby get said boy's attention. (She actually told me that!) She then confessed in PMs to someone else that she hated all of us, and was actually ashamed of the fact that her would-be beau liked the site. She goes on later to practically boast about being a slut, (just check her posting history on 3 May 2011), and now she's upset?!? She wanted drama, and she got more than she could handle. Excuse me while I weep...for her friends, and everyone who even knows her name.

GitP has been GREAT to me, for the most part. I'm going to miss a lot of people there.

No, wait. That's right. All of my FRIENDS from GitP are listed on my Facebook page. Or they have my address. Or even my phone number!

Several of those friends have pointed out that I made a mistake, and accidentally identified her a little too clearly. Oops. When I wrote that goodbye, and once I'd connected my brain through the haze of meds I take regularly, I ran back and deleted anything identifying her. She's the dumbass standing up as tall as possible to shout, "Hey! It's me! I'm the one he's talking about!" But I'll dismiss such stupidity on her part as being a wanna-be 18-year-old alcoholic/prostitute.

In the Goodbye Thread, I MADE A LIST OF THINGS I'D DONE TO HELP PEOPLE, and those were incredibly stressful times. But I did it anyway, because I was the schmuck who bothered to care, despite the laundry list of problems that *I* have. AT NO TIME WAS I TRYING TO BE A MARTYR! I was trying to be a nice guy, and in this last instance I failed spectacularly.

SURPRISE! I'M A HUMAN BEING! I'm not a saint. I didn't ask for people to look up to me. If they did, I was always flattered. I tried to lead by example...and by doing so, I find that I'm now being judged because I'm selfishly leaving to avoid utter and complete self-destruction. You looked up to me? I'm not that tall. You think I'm a pillar of the community? I didn't ask to be part of whatever building you were designing in your head. You thought I was the nicest guy? Everyone has a dark side, and I simply tried desperately to keep it under wraps. It reeks of my biological mother, and I ABSOLUTELY, 100% HATE THAT PART OF MYSELF!

But do me a favor...as long as I'm feeling bad about what happened, and absolutely horrible about leaving a place I liked to go regularly, why don't you take a little time to judge and/or kick me while I'm down. Go ahead. I have plenty of time, what with me siting around in a cast to keep my foot from collapsing on me. And don't worry if my heart gets broken when my supposed FRIENDS engage in such smackdowns, because I have enough drugs here to put a literally stop to my heart from beating. Relief at last; no heartache.

Oh, but I wouldn't do that. Becky would resurrect me for the sake of killing me again if I committed suicide. Damn. And I was so looking forward to a nap that was longer than usual.

So...before anyone else decides to come at me with a harangue about how terrible a person I am, do me a favor and go look in the mirror. Say out loud your every imperfection, no matter how dark of a secret it is. Then try to look yourself in the eye and declare how bad I am. I know my flaws. Every last one of them. And yet I tried to be a good guy and help. I'm now sorry I did so.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Goodbye, Playground =*(

Don't get me wrong. It really is a great community. There are many, many wonderful people there. Alas, there always seems to be a few who insist on using the sand box the same way a cat will, and that's...well, kinda gross, really.

I have readers that aren't from GitP, so I think it might help to explain what went down. Like I needed more crap after last weekend, this just had to happen on the heels of such a "happy" trip to NY.

Over the last few weeks, I'd been contemplating leaving GitP. In much the same way I'd come to realize that living alone wasn't smart, staying in a place where I'd become so emotionally invested in the problems of others was ALSO not smart. The fact of the matter is that I have so much on my plate right now, it's actually kind of stupid for me to try and help others.

Ah, but according to the books of old pertaining to Murphy's Law, two things are universal: hydrogen and stupidity. And there seems to be equal amounts of both wherever you turn. I can be quite unintelligent when I don't put my mind to it.

Months ago, this girl posted in the Depression Thread (DT), asking for anyone with experience with PTSD to contact her. I did, but immediately sensed that being male was probably not the greatest thing for her. I'm usually quite good at connecting unseen dots, and I was right. I received a "thanks, but no thanks."

The end...right?

No. Just a few days ago, an epic rant, filled to the brim with psychological discord, was posted to the DT. Whatever help she tried to receive wasn't actually helping. If anything, it seemed as though she was not just coming apart, but flying apart. Someone needed to help this girl, and I thought it should be a hardcore effort. This was my primary thought...to help. My secondary thought was, after last weekend's debacle of a family gathering, that perhaps helping someone would make me feel better. Please note my intentions and their order. Her first, me second.

In private messages, I came at her full steam ahead. "I'm going to help! There is salvation to be had in the psychological arms of Bor! Together, we shall slay this PTSD beast!"

At first, I wanted to get her on the phone. I thought connecting to a real human being would be good for her. We were never going to meet. I didn't want anything from her but a little trust. And somehow, for a guy usually hung up on internet safety, I failed to think about what I was asking. "If you want my number, just ask. And when you call...Well, I'll possibly turn into a psychopath who wants to stalk you, terrify you further, and..." Hello? Dumbass! That's not how you help someone with major trust issues.

I spoke at length with Becky. I formulated what I thought was a better plan. This girl and I would talk online for a while...let her learn that I could, in fact, be trusted...then give her my number...and in time, I'd help her face the PTSD beast and teach her how to keep it caged. Such mental monsters can rarely be slain, but they can be controlled. And it all seemed fairly sound to me.

Along the way, I'd made a couple of promises. The first was to never intentionally hurt her. The other was that if she wanted me to stop trying to help that she should just say so.

Here's the problem: the way I approach those in need, with somewhat intense caring and consideration for their feelings...? That's not the way my efforts are returned. I walk in with that silly little thing called hope. I keep thinking other people would like to have some hope too. That's usually when my hopes get kicked in the testicles.

And that's what the girl did. Instead of saying something akin to, "I really appreciate you trying so hard to help, but I don't think you can," her response after numerous private messages was, "We're never gonna talk. I have a therapist. And you caring this much is freaking me out." Okay, that last I can actually understand. But the flat out denial of ever talking, without giving it a chance...? And the therapist...that she doesn't talk to?!? What...what on Earth did you post on the DT for? How do you come along and open a can of worms, then deny the very existence of said worms?

(As I write this, I'm using another tab to watch another site where this drama continues to unfold. Where I initially thought I was being demonized, it turns out they are shredding the girl apart. While I am pleased at being vindicated, I still see the girl's situation as...sad.)

GitP has been an amazing place for me. I've met one amazing person after another, with them helping me in ways I couldn't have imagined. But in the mind of someone with severe recurring depression, it only takes a few people to erase the good and make me focus on the bad. My previous thoughts of leaving had become solidified. She became the straw that broke the camel's back.

Here's where the universal element of stupidity comes strongly into play. I went to the Depression Thread and announced that I was done. The occasional response of being told to F.O. and/or being ignored finally pushed me over the edge. And while I discussed the recent event that had done so, I made every effort to keep the identity of the person who'd done the pushing a secret. Even my pronoun use was multiple choice, with me claiming "he/she/it" had hurt me.

What's coming out on another site is this girl's ability to be an attention whore. According to other people, she's homophobic, and perhaps a little too vocal about it. She actually stated that she hated all Playgrounders except for the guy she eventually ended up dating (and eventually broke up with), only to reappear a week later to ask for help in the Relationship Woes & Advice Thread. Now, still apparently despising us, she dropped in for a rant about the level of psychological mess she that is. So I'm not the only one to notice that she's sending a vast amount of mixed signals.

And there I am, trying to protect her identity, when she appears on the DT to say, "He's talking about me."

Honestly, how stupid do you have to be? I kept my mouth shut, pointing in several different directions and keeping it vague...and she just had to specify that she was both victim (of my overzealous attempt to help) and villain (as the one who'd hurt me).

Instead of realizing how dumb her move actually was and deleting her post, she waited long enough for people to name her and say, "Golly...you're right and Bor is wrong."

It gets better, as she sent me yet another private message, giving me "what for" about singling her out - which was HER doing, not mine - and a second message to say that I probably ruined the possibility of her developing a better friendship with her ex. *I* did nothing. Every social hole that she's living in was dug using her very own shovel.

And the end result...? I still feel bad. I still wish I could help. But no is no, and this is the kind of girl who would start slinging accusations to get me in even greater trouble, if only to have the drama level kept at maximum.. (I'm blessed in that Becky read every message sent to that girl, and so there is a witness to my lack of severe wrongdoing.)

I'm also leaving GitP for a while. I may return, but I've essentially been told I was an ass for caring so much. There are the many who don't like that I'm "taking my ball and going home," (as they say in Playground parlance), but it's those few that have inflicted entirely too much pain for me to even want to deal with it right now.

Those who are linked to me on Facebook can always direct those who are not connected. I'm still around...but Bor the Barbarian Monk is done with the Playground for the time being.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Details, details, details...

My last post was long, emotional, humorous, and...Well, it had a little bit of everything...but not everything.

First, some news on Dad. He's in medical trouble, and it's nothing minor. He's become immune to the antibiotics that they give him to address the weeping wounds on his legs. My estimate would be that it's about five or six years that he's been on them almost continuously. If not receiving a full dose to address a genuine infection, he's been on a low, prophylactic dose to prevent anything too serious.

Well, there have been warnings from the medical community. I've heard them often enough, as one doctor or another has said they don't want me on antibiotics "just in case" because of the potential to become immune to their effects. Now it's happened to Dad, and that means trouble is no longer just around the corner...it's peeking around, looking for him, while sharpening its gun...or something like that.

Look, folks...If I'm not trying to maintain my off-beat sense of humor about these things, I'll end up crying in the corner, shaking uncontrollably.

At minimum, my father is 100 lbs. overweight. His mobility has already tanked. If he gets an infection that's serious enough, and they have to amputate, my father will become one of those senior citizens who never leaves his bed. Psychologically, he probably won't watch TV...or read a book...or answer his phone. He'll lose his soul if he loses his leg, as he is already convinced he doesn't have much to live for at the age of 80.

Surprisingly, this topic was also glanced over, just like the discussion of my toe. As I sit here and type, I'm starting to see a connection. If it's medical, Dad doesn't want to discuss it. If it is solidly connected to the financial and/or social...Well, now it's a topic for conversation.

Which brings us to Stu and his potential divorce. I unintentionally failed to explain why it was actually happening, although there were plenty of implications directed at the stupid reasons he got married in the first place. Love...? It would seem the men in my family, with the exception of myself, don't marry for love. And that's the foundation for all the woes that are sure to follow.

Because the lines of communication appear to be at a minimum between Stu and Nicki, their discussions are usually about what "must" be done. The house must be repaired. The bills must be paid. Our biological mother must be executed, (as per Nicki's opinion). The child must not play with running chainsaws. That kind of thing. That husband and wife occasionally meet in the bedroom to attempt further procreation...I think that's more a testament to our natures and biological functions.

Over the years, while Stu struggled to find stable employment, Nicki worked full time AND went to school. And when I made that list and said that Nicki's family treated my brother and sister-in-law like strangers...it was more that they treated Stu as such. Nicki continues to work her butt off, sometimes pulling 11 days in a row of work. When free time rolls around, she's off with friends or family, abandoning Stu to watch their child AND our biological mother.

So Stu works a miserable job, (which I believe is at Wal-Mart), and is often left to handle "the child that lived to be dumb" and Satan's sister. He's practically not permitted time to make friends of his own, and should he dare to mention his misery, it falls upon the deaf ears of his wife. She has what she wanted: American citizenship. Stu is no longer a commodity.

This is why Stu has found himself in a loveless marriage, with a child who needs far more attention than anyone can spare, and a senior citizen from Hades living under his leaky roof.

Oh...One other goofy thing floating around in their lives...Nicki wants to enlist in the military. The idea is that by doing so, the military will provide many of their needs, such as a home that doesn't require perpetual repair. They are under the misconception that this particular shift in careers for Nicki will fix some of what's broken in their marriage. But if Stu moves forward with the idea of a divorce, it's going to blow such plans to smithereens.

One final side note about the actual visit, (and not its aftermath), is that Stu seemed to be making an attempt to ignore the fact that I was treated like an ATM two years ago. And as part of that effort, he pulled me aside and told me that Mom had given Stu a mission, in which he wanted me to share the burden: explain to Dad that his driving days are over; he's far more dangerous behind the wheel than many drunks.

If Stu was waiting for my support in such a conversation, he never got it. There was no way, in the short time we were allotted, to gently ease into such a discussion. Once he mentioned it to me, I knew that the only way to approach it would be as gently as possible. That would take longer than the 45 minutes we had. Thus, it never came up, especially with us allowing Dad to lead the conversation.

Meanwhile, back at home...I blew quite a few major emotional fuses over the visit. The saving grace of the entire trip was our time spent at Bryan's place. But what weighed far more heavily was what went on at Dad's. To reach the age of 44, when fate seemed to be doing its best to make that impossible, and then find myself dismissed like a five-year-old talking nonsense...it hurt in ways I find difficult to describe. It was very much "same 'song,' different day." And I found myself wondering why I was still trying so damnably hard to hang on to a father who seemed to want me to quietly disappear into the background. I felt as though I'd been summoned to his home so I could be ignored in person.

Dwelling on this, I found myself losing perspective on much of my current life. Why was I fighting anymore? Why wasn't I simply allowing fate to have its way with me and end my existence sooner?

Well, the answers are actually numerous. I'm still on my feet, malfunctioning though they may be, and fighting because of the love I stumbled upon. I'm still making my best efforts because of the friends I have scattered around the world, (and my prayers remain with my UK friends amidst the chaos there). I'm still here and fighting the good fight because I'm still hanging on to hope. Going back to what I'd expected when I was visiting Dad...I was HOPING their emotions had somehow been reconnected to their brains. If there was no hope, then I'd be resigning this commission in life.

Thankfully, I am a blessed man. Monday evening, when I was on the cusp of complete emotional collapse, I called a valued friend, one of the Playgrounders, and unloaded a truckload of my woes onto him. I chose him because he is actually a professional in the therapeutic field, and he was the voice of calm I needed in that moment. It didn't hurt that I also took half a Valium to calm me enough to speak without choking on my tears. Approximately one day later, he stated that he wished he could give more than love and support, although I don't think he was referring to me. The thing is, what he considered such a small thing meant volumes to me. On Monday night, I was lucky to have such a "fragrant angel" in my life.

With all of this now reported, I'm off to continue crafting a letter to my father. Snail mail seems to be the only way I can ensure that he'll hear me out, without dismissing me. Be well, and DFTBA!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My visits to Heaven and Hades

Well, boys and girls, you may want to sit back and relax on this one. It could take a while. And those with the appropriate access, I advise you to stand down on dispatching ninja penguins, as they would only complicate matters for me.

Early Saturday morning, Becky and I got into the car for the five-hour trip to Long Island to visit Dad. The schedule for the day was to get there, visit for about four hours, possibly discuss important family matters, as Stu would be there, and then head over to my buddy Bryan's house to spend the night. The next day, we would get back in the car and head home, even though home, as far as I'm concerned, is wherever my beloved is.

Becky and I spent the hours of our drive perpetually wondering whether or not we should both partake of the Valium I had with me. It was more than the stress of having to spend time with the family; there was also the ongoing threat of having to drive on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island. If you've never done it, I highly recommend it, especially if you're the kind of thrill-seeker who likes jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. What we did not discuss, although we should have, was visiting a bank to take out a loan to pay the tolls on the NY/NJ bridges. Thankfully, the attendants at the bridges were willing to take one of my kidneys.

Upon our arrival at Dad's place, we found Stu and his family already there. Dad was receiving wound care from a nurse, so greeting him was delayed. But I gave Mom a kiss, and then...Well, quite oddly, Stu attempted to move in for a hug, but I intercepted such foolish with a handshake. If he was expecting brotherly affection after the way he treated me as a would-be ATM, he was sorely mistaken.

And he's put on weight. He's put on a lot of weight. I didn't ask, but I have a suspicion that it's due to medications he's now on. That, or like our father, he's found psychological comfort in food, which never fights with him, always agrees with him, and is always there when he needs it. It could be any one of those, or our family genetics finally caught up to him, dragged him into a back alley, and had their way with him.

I'm somewhat amazed at how little past events weighed on everyone there. I essentially left my anger behind when I moved to KS, but the hurt remains. What would have made everything better was an apology. It would have been nice, and a part of me was hoping for one. Silly, stupid me...I forgot with whom I was dealing. Maybe I should have opened with an apology. "I'm sorry you're a money-hungry, greedy little putz who was trying to squeeze me for all you could get." The problem is that I don't think that would've improved anything. Go figure.

Through conversation, I learned the following:

My nephew Xander, the one actually related by blood, has been deemed autistic by his school system. My brother seems to believe otherwise. So do I. It's not autism. It's that he was reared by a television set and a computer. The kid's mother was barely around, and his father cared only as much as is required by law, in that Stu made sure the kid didn't accidentally kill himself. In the past, Stu once said, "We had to stop watching Family Guy because the little man was starting to catch some of the jokes." That one quote simply left me fretting over my nephew's future. Now my fears have been realized.

My biological mother is now living with Stu and company. I caught on to this fact when "she" was mentioned frequently enough. At one point, I asked if Stu was talking about "Satan's sister," to which he caught the reference instantly. He even played the ring tone he has for her, which is the soundtrack to a horror film.

As with all places where she visits, my biological mother is sucking the life from the very ground where she exists. To put it in terms some of my readers might understand, "One does not simply walk into Stu's House. It's black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The Great Eye is ever watchful. 'Tis a barren wasteland, riddle with fire and ash and dust; the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly." Yeah, it's that bad.

Through casual conversation, Stu also took it upon himself to continue to mark his territory. There was a passing conversation about the family burial plot, in which it was affirmed that Dad, Stu, and two cousins were in control. There was no other way for me to translate it. "You see, Rob? I get to be the important one when it comes to familial politics, while you get dismissed." The upside to this is that I don't want any sort of control over the family plot. My name on it would screw with whatever benefits I currently have. Better it be my brother's problem than mine.

Becky held her own during the useless chat. "All is well. We're doing this. We're doing that. The upcoming semester will be the other thing." And the greatest thing she did: she sat beside me, held my hand, and said via actions, "I love this man!" Just when I think I'm treading onto dangerous ground, I find that I'm actually on a rock with her at my side. =)

During all of this, Xander, the boy reared to be dumb, was off in a side room, playing on my father's computer with the TV playing in the background. It was like he never left home. He responded to nothing but Stu's instructions to behave, demonstrating the peripheral care the kid receives at all times.

Then things got weird. Mom gather up "the women-folk" and they all headed off to play Bingo. This left me, Dad, and Stu to talk for about 45 minutes, with Xander oblivious in the other room.

What followed was a wasting of valuable time. Stu griped about his virtually loveless marriage. I tried to discuss my frightful plans for my toe, but this was dismissed by a wave of my father's hand and the quote, "You don't want to do that." Then we were back onto Stu's marriage woes.

Yes...It's terrible that he and his "mail order bride" are probably heading toward divorce. They acted like this is some kind of shock. All I could do was sit there and be amazed that they responded as such. I mean, he got to know her via mail/e-mail for two months. They spent a week or two in one another's presence...and then they got married. It's as though no one else in my family received the memo on how to properly court a woman. Before Stu even met Nicki, he'd said that he hoped to find a woman of Asian descent because they were docile, and she would simply accept him as the head of the household and take his orders as he gave them.

Meanwhile, back in Hogwarts, the kids were all in Defense Against the dark Arts, when suddenly...

Never mind.

Let's all take a moment to run down Stu's executive decisions in life.

1: Gave up on the family business to move to Las Vegas, where friends and paradise awaited.
2: He ended up working two jobs to make ends meet, as he lacked an education to get any kind of management position. His unique sense of humor and personality quirks meant he would never be permitted to climb the ladder of success.
3: A coworker tells him of a niece that's single and introduces them. It's pretty clear that the niece would like citizenship in the States. Stu just doesn't want to be lonely anymore. They agree to marry as an act of desperation, thinking all the while that it just might be love.
4: Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts...Never mind.
5: They have a kid almost immediately, and it's my belief that Stu thought this would cement their relationship together. Stu and Nicki then prove that they are parents in title only. Neither is truly a mom or a dad.
6: They move from NV to TN to be closer to her family...who then treat them like strangers. Her family couldn't care any less.
7: They communicate so well, *cough*, that when Stu says he needs to see a doctor as soon as possible about his high blood pressure, she fails to mention the reason for setting up that appointment with the doctor. Stu doesn't know she failed to mention it to the doctor's office. It all comes out AFTER he almost dies.
8: In an act of brotherly love and compassion, I rush from AZ to TN to see my dying brother. He accidentally lives, surprising everyone. He decides that, while he stared Death in the eye, he will ignore that fact because it's too emotionally terrifying. He also decides my visit was nice...Not amazing...Just nice.
9: His brother, (me), who could have helped with the finances and perhaps interacted with his child enough to have the kid demonstrate some signs of intellect, is instead treated like an ATM. He opens with a demand for $350 rent, and then starts tacking on the cost for this, that, and the other thing. By my calculations, Stu was asking for over 70% of my income by the time he was done demanding money.
10: When I ask for some kind of compassion with the situation and a definitive reduction in the rent, Stu explodes in an incredible rage that I'm apparently not permitted to call childish...even though that's all it could be called. He states that Nick told him to forget my moving in if I complained about the rent. So much for finding a woman of Asian descent because they were docile, and she would simply accept him as the head of the household and take his orders as he gave them, eh?
11: After experiencing the "thrill" of our biological mother living with them...and eventually kicking her out...they replace the idea of me living there with her living there...again. They are back to having the same fun they had before, with Nicki hating my mother, Stu having to referee, take care of the kid (peripherally, still), and take care of Satan's sister.
12: During all of these adventures, Stu has had one job after another, none of which is a very good. He's trained as a pharmacy tech, licensed and everything, but still can't find that kind of work. His personality is such that he has had others hired for that position, with him being ignored along the way.

This is not to say that I've been some kind of great decision maker, myself. The list of mistakes I've made in life are as long as they are stupid. My teenaged years are rife with poor decisions, and I'm paying for all of those now. It is pure luck, and that's all it is, that I have found a beautiful and spectacular woman to stand at my side...and I've already succeeded on knowing her for longer than two and half months before marrying her.

We good on all that? Did you all take notes? I hope so.

The women come back from playing Bingo, and there is great excitement in the fact that Becky won $2 and Nicki won $4. Talk ensues about retirement into the good life.

While they were away, Mom asked Becky how she does it. "How do you deal with him being so sick all the time?" Becky replied that we simply take it one day at a time. The real answer, the one she should have given, is that she and I do the goofiest thing: we talk TO one another. This activity involves one person speaking and the other LISTENING. But trying to explain that to my family is akin to explaining the science of creating fire to cavemen who firmly believe the flames are made with magic.

Now we're back to useless chat. There's really nothing more to be said. Becky and I were simply killing time until we were to be off to stay with Bryan. Dad would like us to go to dinner with everyone, but that's not going to happen. I've now played witness to how well they'll listen to me and I'm done. Somehow, I'm convinced to come back the next morning for a few more hours.

While we were still there, I decided to use the restroom. While I'm in there, the family decides to start lecturing me on my diabetes care. Well, not so much me, as they're lecturing Becky, but Stu raising his voice enough for me to hear through the bathroom door. Becky explains how much better I'm doing, and I try to as well. But no one is listening...

...and this is proven when I step out for a nicotine fix. It took me longer to make my way outside than it did for me to have just a few puffs to satisfy my addiction. While I'm away, they not only continue lecturing Becky about my diabetes control, but also lecturing Becky about monitoring her hypoglycemia. Everyone is talking AT us, but no one is talking TO us.

By the time Becky and I left, we were regretting our commitment to visit the next morning. If we were lucky, Armageddon would come overnight and we'd be spared visiting again. At minimum, we could hope for spontaneous combustion to take our lives and be done with it.

But then things got much, MUCH, MUCH better. Bryan is a superb host. He always has been. In my youth, the general attitude upon entering his house was, "Welcome. My home is yours. If you need anything, ask, and ye shall receive." So it was at his home last night.

The visit began with his eldest daughter afraid we were going to kidnap her. It had been stated that his kids were cute, and Becky, in particular, wanted to bring them home with us. Once she was assured that she was safe, and that no one would take her from mommy and daddy, she was all about getting attention. "Look at me! I'm adorable! You cannot resist! I will be cute until the time you leave!" And she was.

We didn't spend much time with Bryan's wife, as she has a sensitivity to smoke that is pretty bad. I made it my business to keep my distance. But with Bryan, there were many lengthy conversations, both humorous and serious.

While there were some private conversations that were worth noting, I cannot speak of them. They are, after all, private. But we discussed what had happened back at Dad's place, and Bryan asked, "What were you really expecting when you went there?" His tone was along the lines of, "Are you really that surprised at how it all went?"

Still, I answered. "I dunno. I guess I expected it to be a meeting of the five families to put a cessation to the ongoing war." (Anyone who doesn't get that has to leave now and watch The Godfather.) And I did. I expected dad to get me and Stu alone to discuss family business...and I suppose Stu's possible divorce falls under that category...but to treat me like there was nothing of value to discuss in my life was insulting and hurtful. It's not that I expect anything different from that...it's just that I keep foolishly hoping for something different.

Becky and I were shown to the "guest basement," and then fate lent us a hand. I had an adverse reaction to my antibiotics. Nothing TOO bad; just stomach upset. Becky, in turn, awoke with a toothache. Odd as it may seem, we were saved by physical misery! (As opposed to the emotional misery waiting for us back at dad's.) With a relatively quick goodbye to our gracious host, we called Dad to say we couldn't make it, and then fled NY at the speed of traffic!

Folks, this has been a long one. It's time for me to rest my leg, my brain, or both. If I think of anything else to share, I'll try to do so in the future. Be well, and DFTBA!