Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wait...REAL human beings?!?

No. No, no, no, no, no. The students and faculty of Patrick Henry High School must be from another planet. Because people don't elect an open lesbian as their homecoming king, nor would they dare to nominate her girlfriend of two years as homecoming queen. Human beings don't do that. It's unheard of to be that accepting.

Isn't it?

It would appear that I'm mistaken. It's happened. For the first time (that I know of), someone who's sexual preferences aren't "normal" is being celebrated by her community in a most normal fashion, instead of being the victim of bullying. My congratulations go out to Rebecca Arellano and her girlfriend.

Now we need to take it the next step. I mean, it's very nice that they chose this girl to be the "king" who welcomes back the high school's alumni, but wouldn't it be even better if they could drop the whole gender-specific title? Why can't Rebecca and her girlfriend be elected "Homecoming Couple?" I mean, if you're going to break with one part of the tradition, why not break with bigger pieces?

I guess we're not there yet.

Meanwhile, this was the first time in a while that I'm seen some actual good news...a story that restores at least a drop of my faith in humanity.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Captain Amerokay

In an effort to keep this blog from turning into a non-stop scream-fest from me, (as my foot hurts that much of late), I've decided to review another movie. As usual, it will contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen Captain America, stop reading.

It's really quite simply. If it's about a superhero, I'm probably going to buy the DVD. I didn't rush out to theaters to see Captain America, but I'd been interested in see it. Over the years in the comics, Cap went from being something of a "grand American thug" to a fighter who brought an acrobatic style to his fighting. Spider-Man had a similar style, but was exceedingly acrobatic, almost to the point of being virtually inhuman. But Cap would bounce around in a fight, landing punches and kicks, slinging that shield, and practically spewing American propaganda every time a speech bubble appeared to be coming from his mouth.

So Becky and I, seeing money was tight, decided to buy the movie anyway. I wanted to see this American icon brought to the silver screen...or at least the small flat-screen in our living/bed/computer room. (It's a two room apartment. Stop judging me!) We loaded it up, started watching, and I found myself entertained, right up until the singing and dancing.

Yes, singing and dancing. Captain American, the character in the film, is initially used as nothing more than a means of selling war bonds. That's it. And it's done it what appears to be traditional 1940s style. It wasn't a bad little stage production, but...I mean, I just couldn't buy into the product of "Operation: Rebirth" to be relegated to stage and film work for the great American war machine.

They do a decent job of sticking to the character created back in the 1940s. Steve Rogers is a little guy, with a good heart and big ideals. He's a patriotic American who wants to do his part in the war effort, but can't get past the physical to enter the Army. He's too small, too weak. But General Chester Phillips sees the potential in Rogers and offers him the chance to serve his country in a top secret experiment, "Operation: Rebirth." The years have been a little wishy-washy on what the procedure entailed. It was a shot. Then it was a drink. Then it was a drink AND a shot. And, because superheroes aren't made with just a shot and/or a drink, Steve Rogers was bombarded with "vita-rays." (Vita-rays: with more vitamins than gamma rays, and half the calories!)

Out pops Captain America, who immediately faces a saboteur in the lab. The lead scientist, Abraham Erskine, who has the super soldier formula memorized, (because writing important data like that down was always a bad idea, right?), is killed. Thus, Rogers is the only man to successfully undergo the super soldier procedure successfully...back then. (Variations on the theme have since been duplicated.)

The comic book...the movie...they are almost in synch until this point. And then, because Steve Rogers is such a valuable asset, Chester Phillips, a mere colonel in the movie, decides the test subject should be kept safe inside a lab. Senator Brandt, who was one of the politicians helping to fund the super soldier project, decides the best use of the successful experiment is to sell war bonds.

Enter the song and dance number.

So we, the audience, get about 40 minutes of solid movie, with a decent plot and characters who have real potential. Then it all goes to hell. The story on the hero's side of things loses focus. The part where Captain America feels compelled to take real action feels forcibly shoehorned into the film.

I can't say the acting was bad; it was pretty good, I guess. But, oh, how the script needed work! I was reminded of a scene in the movie Starship Troopers, which was infinitely inferior to the book. The troopers are picked up after a terrible fight. The character of Dizzy, who was mysteriously made into a woman and actually had speaking lines for the film, is fatally wounded. The main character, Johnny Rico, holds her in his arms, and she actually says, "I'm dying, Johnny." There was so much cheese in that one moment of film that there could never be a cracker big enough for it.

Captain America came across like that entirely too many times. Mind you, it wasn't AS bad as the above example. I mean, they had decent talent delivering the tripe of the script. And I don't think a script doctor - heck, even a team of script surgeons - could help.

The movie was also in too much of a rush to cram the career of a superhero that spanned over six decades into two hours. The fight scenes tended to be very short, and none-too-spectacular, including the climactic confrontation of the Red Skull and Cap. Here we had two men made as close to perfection via science that humanity can possibly achieve, and they slugged it out like a couple of brawlers in a back alley. It was disappointing.

Speaking of disappointing, I'm a great fan of Hugo Weaving. I have always been amazed at what he was able to accomplish in V for Vendetta without ever being permitted to see his face. An actor's face is where most of his skills come into play. I absolutely loved Weaving's ability to convey all he needed to with body language and vocal tone. But along comes this movie, and they didn't utilize this incredible actor's skill set. "Throw some prosthetic makeup on him and give him mediocre lines, and wish him luck." For G-d's sake, they had a character that started out as a Nazi and then went rogue against THEM, and he came across as "an un-nice man."

The movie isn't without hope. The other Marvel films meant to lead into the Avengers movie are tied in well enough, with specific regards to Thor. That they have Howard Stark as a character only loosely connects Iron Man to this film. My favorite moment is when the colonel, trying to prove who the best candidate is, throws a grenade into the midst of those being co0nsidered for the program, and Only Rogers steps up...That was a good one.

But overall, Captain America was an unambitious attempt to get a character introduced before their big ensemble movie. I suspect a good deal of the $140,000,000 spent to make this film was spent making Chris Evans look like the literal 90 lbs. weakling. It's filler, and if you expect to watch The Avengers next year, I suspect you'll want to watch this movie, if only to get some pertinent information. Beyond that...is was okay at its best.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On second though, just kill me

It's been a rough couple of days. My right foot has been in so much pain that I feel as though I've been popping my painkillers like M-n-M's. I am careful not to exceed what I'm permitted in any one four-hour period, but it seems like I'm am taking ALL of the painkillers, instead of just taking what I need in a day.

How bad is it? Some of it has been so bad that I have more than once seriously contemplated the removal of the foot altogether. And it's not 100% of the foot, but varying parts of it. The old break from my mid-20's. My ankle. The outside of my foot. and the second toe. My RIGHT second toe. Because losing the left one wasn't enough.

My right second toe has been "special" for some time now. It was developing into a hammertoe, and a podiatrist out in AZ decided to release the tendon underneath to stop it. The surgery worked. The toe healed. And it's been utterly useless ever since. The only time it moves is when it's being bent my something else. I'll curl the other toes, and that one only moves about a millimeter because the skin is pulling it that way.

Now it's one of the biggest problems on my foot. It's a nightmare. The toe, itself, feels like it's ON FIRE! No joke, I sat last night, cradling and caressing the toe besieged by utter agony, wondering if there was a way for me to just rip it off without things being made worse. Becky has an unused dissection kit. If I just got myself drunk enough, I could...

No, no. I've actually heard tales of diabetics who think that way and attempt a little home surgery. It's absurd, and yet I can now understand the kind of pain that would drive someone to do something like that. I contemplated calling my podiatrist and begging him to remove the damn thing in his office, but I don't think he'd perform an amputation because "it hurts A LOT!"

And yet Becky and I were able to make a Wal-crawl last night for some needed items, and many of my pains were reduced. My new shoes are truly amazing. And they SHOULD be. They are molded to fit my foot, and my foot alone, with every physical imperfection and alteration to my gait taken into account. Seriously...The mold told the manufacturer something about my left foot that the orthotics guy didn't even mention, and they added about an eighth of an inch to the sole to adjust for the way I stepped. And the brace on the right foot is designed to take about 30% of my weight off my foot. How it does that, I'm not sure, but I know my ankle feels better in the shoe.

Thank G-d insurance covers it. I'm going to keep a lookout for the bill, (if I even get one), just to see what it looks like, but my guess is that they cost around $1,500.

I don't think I'm helping myself emotionally, either. I've been such a whiny pain in the ass for so long, first being slapped into a cast and then having the toe amputated, followed by this growing hip pain...I just don't want to bother her non-stop with every ache, even if they are serious enough to make me view death and a "pain reliever." =( And that has crossed my mind, if only for a few seconds.

I just want to be done with this pain. I'm 44, not 84. Walking around like an old man...complaining like an old man...these things should not be a part of my life just yet.

I'm off to try and get some more rest. Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shoe Day: Second Post

SHOES!!!

Yes, dear friends...I am free of the cast at last, and upon reaching home, I celebrated with a lengthy shower that in no way involved extra packing around my knee, a plastic bag, or a balancing act. I washed and scrubbed and scrubbed and washed. And I only feel PARTIALLY human. I think it's going to take a few more showers before I can make a claim to being somewhere around 99% human.

Leave it to me, of course, to immediately discover the DISADVANTAGES of being without the cast.

Being a total contact cast, it was holding everything inside my foot exactly where it should be. I essentially had no moving parts in my foot. Now that parts can move again, some of them hurt. Some of them hurt a lot. =(

There's also the fact that my foot has been...pampered...inside the casts. The inside of those fiberglass monstrosities were not only padded, but an initial layer of what they sometimes called "gel wrap" was put on me. This was a bandaged coated with Calamine lotion. This managed to keep my skin not quite so dry, but then it was also not wet. The basic function was to protect the skin, which tends to be rather delicate on a diabetic, and to prevent the dreaded itching that will often come with a cast. To these extents, it worked. But it also had the effect of softening up the calluses on my feet. Walking in the cast created just enough agitation inside to wear those away. The result: my calluses are GONE! (Dun dun DUUUN!)

Do you know what happened when you have no calluses on your feet and are toting around approximately 190 lbs. on them? IT FREAKIN' HURTS! Seriously, once I was out of the shoes and preparing for my shower, it felt as though I was walking barefoot on sharp gravel.

Aside from those "wonderful" aspects, I am FREE! And freedom means getting back into the realm of physical activity. I just have to be sure to wear the brace whenever I plan on being on my foot for more than only a couple of minutes. Y'see, the brace...well, it's quite the production. It covers most of my lower leg, with metal prongs going into the sole of my shoe. The leather portion that covers so much of my leg needs to be laced up every time I put it on. There's no other way of getting it on and keeping it on. So...bumming around the apartment when I plan on doing nothing in particular? I can be shoeless. Sleeping? Shoeless. Showers? Shoeless. Doing dishes or cleaning up the apartment...SHOES!

Soon, I will head for bed, where I can unwind from this exciting day. And it WAS exciting. Emotionally, anyway. The whole thing about escaping from the cast - hopefully for good - hasn't left me with much energy for anything other than coming here to report to the world, and then crawling into bed to relax.

And that's the way it is. Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Shoe Day: First Post

Y'know, I kinda failed to mention the fact that I have engaged in a form of exercise already. It started back in KS. When I found myself missing it, I bought a replacement here in PA. It's the Ghostbusters video game!

I found it somewhat odd that the neurologist I saw actually recommended video games to help with my weakening hands. The muscles are wasting away, as previously mentioned, and he said that some video games would actually help keep my dying muscles active. I looked over what we had in the apartment, and they all seemed to be the same. Primarily, you occasionally use your left hand to select various gear, and then it's all the right hand, pulling the trigger to fire and and alter the camera angle, while maybe, on occasion, using the left hand to alter direction. So the "workout" I was getting involved my thumb, forefinger, and middle finger on the right, and mostly my thumb on the left.

Ghostbusters is a little different. Weapon selection needs to happen more often and faster, as you can be attacked by differing baddies with differing weaknesses simultaneously. Also, with many TPS games, the secondary fire isn't needed often, but Ghostbusters practically requires it. This means I have to pull that left trigger almost as often as I'm pulling the right. So it turns into quite the little workout.

Now for the bonus. My hands tend to get tired after lengthy runs of activity. Typing for long...playing a game for extended periods...holding a book upright for me to read it. These things lend to making my hands FEEL weak. But because I'm so wrapped up in the fun I'm having with Ghostbusters, I tend to "forget" that my hands are tired, and just keep on playing.

Of course, I'm not going to see a whole lot of change in my hands. Nerve damage doesn't lend itself to building muscle. Still, I'm making the effort...playing video games, as prescribed by my doctor. =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hipsters?

Many thanks, Jesse, for your comment on the last post. I am sincerely hoping that the shoes will help, because...Well, welcome to yet another post in which I whine about pain.

The situation with my hips is getting bad. The pain in my hips is waking me up regularly. I get only as much sleep as my painkillers will allow. So let's imagine that I take a pill around 10:00 PM, give it an hour to start working, and then "summon" Becky to bed for our regular cuddling session. Depending on how things are in our little universe, the aforementioned cuddles will last from a half an hour to an full hour, (and on rare occasion a little longer). With the conclusion of cuddling, there is sleep...which lasts between one and half to two hours, at which point the pain will awaken me. Then it's pill time again, followed by another hour of waiting for it to work. IF I get to sleep as soon as it kicks in, I just might squeeze out another four hours before the next bout of pain kicks in.

I've been foolishly trying to ignore it. Just this afternoon, after taking a drug-induced nap, (chock full of painkillers, of course), I woke to pain, got out of bed, and sat in a position marginally more comfortable than lying in bed. (Odd how lying in bed causes me more pain. For the first time in my life, "bed rest" is bad for me. Go figure.) I then sat in a chair for about an hour, trying to ignore the pain, rather than reach for painkillers again. This doesn't coincide well with what I said when I saw my PCP on Wednesday.

Oops. I forgot to mention this one. On Wednesday, while talking with my doctor, I expressed a desire to be "free of pain." Not have my pain reduced. Not to be merely comfortable. I wanted to be PAIN FREE! Indeed, I think we'd all like to be millionaires, as well. My expectations of being pain free are unreasonable. There are too many malfunctions in my body to even hope for such a thing. Still, he decided to refer me to another pain specialist, whom I hope is nothing like "Dr. Doom-n-Gloom."

While both hips hurt, the right is worse than the left, and I've decided that this is, in fact, a direct cause of walking around in this cast. While wandering around my apartment, even for only a couple of minutes, my right foot is raised, while my left lies flat on the floor. This translates to a poor alignment in my hips, which is ABSOLUTELY exacerbating whatever is going on in my hips. And I say this because of the pain that occasionally comes during locomotion, in which just one small maladjusted step can cause me to gasp from the sudden ache that fires out of my hip joint.

It's those noises of pain that sometimes bother me more than the pain itself. You see, for the longest time, I believed I didn't snore. Well, Becky corrected me on that one. I snore. She snores. We snore. (We're a match made in noisy, sleepy Heaven.) About a week ago, I woke to the sound of my own snoring, which, as far as I know, doesn't really happen. Then it struck me that it wasn't my snoring that woke me up; it was the fact that my vocal cords were engaged while snoring...I was attempting to moan in my sleep with every slumbering snort I made. It was my voice that woke me. I just happened to be snoring at the time.

It's not the first time I awoke to hear myself moaning in pain. I occasionally discover myself lying in bed, whimpering and gripping my hip, as if my hand on my hip will somehow dissipate the agony from deep within. These noises...they make me want to tell myself to "man up" and "stop being such a wuss."

I'm truly hoping these shoes that I'm getting tomorrow will be the answer. In fact, I'm trying to plan some kind of exercise for the future, starting with having Becky show me where her classes are on the college campus. The college is just a few blocks away, making it a distance I SHOULD be able to walk. Now I can catch my beloved when she has a break between classes, and go grab a bite to eat with her, without my being utterly and completely trapped at home. I hope to start rebuilding some of the muscles in my hips, thereby placing some distance once again between the bones.

As far as I can tell there's only one little problem with my plan: I'm 44. Once upon a time, I would workout regularly, and I was even something akin to being fit. But that was in my teens and twenties. The time for building muscles may well have passed, as my body isn't so much in condition to start doing something like that. No, my body has started the race to not break down, to stay status quo. And my meds certainly don't lend themselves to burning calories as I start naturally slowing down.

Oh, Becky! Why, oh why, did you choose to fall for such a broken old man?

"Oh, shut up. You got the girl, so stop complaining!" Indeed. I'm off to try and get more rest, as tomorrow I have plans to break out of this mobile prison that's been attached to my leg for four months.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dual doctors and SHOES!

Today was a fun day, considering I had two doctor appointments within a single hour. The first was with my podiatrist at 10:40, followed by my PCP at 11:30. And here, boys and girls, is what happened...

First of all, my podiatrist was immediately impressed with my black and yellow cast. Becky seemed to insist on my becoming a Steelers fan for the next two weeks, and so it was that I fulfilled her request...only to have the yellow look somewhat green against the black. That, and because it's a striped pattern, it looks more like I'm prepared to dress as a bee with a broken leg for Halloween.

He then inspected the amputation site. I've been tending to it, placing only a band-aid over it because there's really nothing else to do there. It hasn't been draining. Any pain I feel in the area is nothing horrific; just the pains one might expect, (whatever those might be), from a toe freshly removed. A somewhat long scab has been along the residual toe, making it appear like the head of a fat worm with a smile. I haven't picked at it. I haven't scrubbed it. I have been doing that which was probably best: leaving it alone.

He felt no such need. He inspected the wound, did a little work on other "trouble spots" on my foot, and then went after the scab on the surgical site. He carefully peeled away the scab and revealed...NOTHING! There was, perhaps, a very tiny spot that needed just a wee bit more healing, but beyond that, it was HEALED!

I have to admit, I was greatly worried that this would turn into something worse. It's always possible when such surgeries are done. Hospitals, themselves, become breeding grounds for infection, despite their best efforts to keep the place sterile. MRSA, ("Mer-sah"), or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is altogether too common in hospitals. But my fears were for naught. I have healed miraculously well, and that's fairly good cause to be pleased wit the results of what started out as a radical method of "dealing with a boo boo."

Then I was off to the PCP, where I had a nice, long chat with the doctor about the pain in my hips and...some other stuff.

When I looked at my hip x-rays, I compared them to online pictures of other hip x-rays. And, y'know...because I'm an expert and all that...I didn't see much of anything from them. They don't appear arthritic at all. I voiced the entirely too normal appearance of the x-rays, and found myself being corrected immediately. They ALMOST look normal, except that the spacing between the bones has been reduced.

There are a number of potential causes for this. The first is that I may be developing arthritis in the joints, even if there aren't any blatantly obvious signs of it on the bones at this time. Another possible cause is that my hobbling around in this cast is exacerbating minor arthritis and/or...Charcot arthropathy.

Yes, once again, this could be that great mystery that is a complication of the complication of diabetes. Remember, arthropathy is a malfunction of the brain communicating with the soft tissues. Why? Well, even when I saw the neurologist, he hesitated to give me a cause. There seem to be plenty of working theories, but no one is absolutely sure of the cause. Whatever the case may be, the tissues deteriorate, and the result is a realignment of bones and PAIN!

The other stuff discussed with the doctor was about my emotional state. Everyone is in agreement that being trapped in a cast for 18 weeks can be frustrating, perhaps moreso when one suffers from depression, as I do. My question was whether or not my meds should be switched, which I expressed a desire NOT to do, (but was willing under his recommendation), or if something else should be added.

The result of this conversation was that he felt my pending freedom from the cast and my desire to start getting some exercise might well be what I need. Just to be able to get moving again could help with burning off some of the weight I've gained, as well as produce come much-needed endorphins. Said exercise might also be beneficial to my aching hips.

And so we wait. I need to get my shoes next week, and then start doing more than sitting/lying around all day long. Walk over to the college campus and meet Becky for lunch, use her long day of classes to wander over to the movie theater to see something she might not be interested in, or even try to find a cafe in the area to which I can stroll, sit and babble with a few strangers, and then walk home again. Not all of the answers to my problems come in pill form. =)

And speaking of the shoes...

SHOES!

This has become the rather excited battle cry around here since yesterday. At random, Becky or I will simply say loudly, "SHOES!" It's our way of beginning the celebration of the fact that I will soon have more freedom than I have for the last four months. Mind you, it won't be A LOT of freedom. With the exception of showering, I should be wearing the brace whenever I'm out of bed so as to keep the foot supported and protected. Still, a brace I can remove is far better than a cast I can't.

Oh...While I prepare to get the aforementioned shoes and start burning a few extra calories, I bought something that Becky has wanted for some time. Her dumb-ass ex, Shawn, often said of the game "Dance Dance Revolution" that they didn't have room in their apartment. Yet when the Wii came out, they had plenty of room for the game "Wii Fit." Becky has wanted a fun way to burn some calories of her own and trim down, if possible, and my motto remains, "What baby wants, baby gets." (When physically of financially possible, that is. "Why, yes, my love...I'll happily carry you over the threshold when the time comes, provided I can use a hand-truck, since I probably won't have it in me to do it without help.") And so I bought her the game, and she has already started putting it to good use. When she's not drowning in school assignments or required to run off to work, she'll fire up the PS2 and "boogey-oogey-oogey til she just can't boogey no more."

Y'know, it occurs to me that her reaction to receiving the game was the same as her current reaction about my shoes. Before, when the game arrived, Becky wandered about saying, "TOYS!" Now it's, "SHOES!" With this knowledge comes a thought...If I should stop posting some time after next Monday, assume Becky "played with me" until "I just couldn't boogey no more."

Be well, and DFTBA!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The end is nigh...again.

For all intents and purposes, I've been in a fairly steady depression. I don't go out unless there's a specific need. My appetite is an iffy venture at best, with me having only something that resembles dinner each day, or downing something to treat low blood sugar. I'm more easily annoyed of late, sometimes by the simplest of things. And I want to sleep...A LOT! Even when I'm awaken by pain, I try to find a position less painful and attempt to go right back to sleep without painkillers. These attempts are always failures, to which point I am awake while I wait the meds to kick in...and the whole time, I'm wishing I could simply be asleep again.

You see, when I'm asleep, I don't experience the ongoing stress of being trapped in this occasionally functioning body. In my dreams, I've flown, outraced the police in daring chases, performed superhuman feats...and some of the latter weren't in bed. (Nudge-nudge; wink-wink; say no more.) Oh, many of my dreams represent the frustrations I experience in the real world, but I leave the symbolism to my subconscious, and try not to dwell on it when I'm awake...which I wish often wish wasn't so damnably frequent.

Today was like any other. Becky resisted getting out of bed for as long as possible, slipping out the door just in time for her to get to class when the first one started. In her rush to get out the door, she forgot her phone...again. (I love you, baby! Stop doing that, please!) I paid a visit to Hulu to catch up on "House" and "The Daily Show." I wandered to those sites I regularly peruse. And then, realizing that I was suffering my usual aches and pains, with a bit of cramping in my becasted foot/leg, I popped a Valium and laid down.

The reason I took the Valium and not the Soma, (a muscle relaxer), is that the latter doesn't do much for the anxiety I often feel when I realized that I am, in fact, trapped in this cast. Tomorrow makes it 18 weeks in and out of casts on my right foot, with the time out of them spent waiting for a new one to be put on. Really, there was no significant time spent out of the cast. If we go by months, then this Saturday will make it four months of casting. I have every right to be going nuts, and have been doing so in my usual fashion.

I was what I will call "partially asleep" when my phone rang. I was still not quite conscious when I answered. It was some woman calling from the orthotics lab at the hospital almost an hour away. She was calling to let me know my diabetic shoes with the brace were in, and -

I let out a stunned gasp that had the poor woman thinking I'd stepped on thumbtack. I then started babbling excitedly, as her seemingly routine phone call meant freedom for me. Freedom to shower without wrapping my leg in a garbage bag to keep it dry. Freedom to go for walks again. Freedom to not need ropes and pulleys so Becky and I can -

PG-13, Rob. PG-13!

I tried desperately to get in this week, but they didn't have anything the coincided with Becky's school schedule. But Monday...MONDAY! That is the day when I will be released from this fiberglass prison known as a cast, and I will have the freedom to...WALK! And SHOWER! And -

PG-13, Rob. PG-13!

Anywho...I wanted to share the good news. I will finally be "paroled" in a week. I'll simply try to sleep most of that time away.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maximum Anxiety

We have this neighbor that we could do without. Rumor has it that he's supposed to graduate by the end of this semester, but how remains a mystery to me...unless his professors aren't particularly demanding. I mean, he's too stupid to have gotten far in life.

The reason I say this is that he's been told numerous times to lower the volume on his stereo. Becky has told him. The landlords have told him. The POLICE have told him. Today, even I hobbled to his apartment and told him, using quite a bit of my native New York vernacular, to lower the damn stereo. Yet even as I type this, I can hear the thump, thump, thump of the bass through the wall.

I would ask how stupid one person can be, but I've been reading entirely too many examples online. Just go to Failbook or Not Always Right and you can see prime examples of idiocy in action. Like this marvelous attempt at parenting. Then there's this genius who decided to release her hamster "back into the wild."

This is the one truly bad part about my personality. I have an extremely low tolerance for stupidity. You could even ask Becky, if you were so inclined. I have a seemingly infinite well of patience. But when it comes to someone being stupid, that patience dries up faster than a cup of water spilled onto a blacktop in 120 degree heat.

Like the week Becky and I were getting to know one another face-to-face. We paid a visit to a nearby McDonald's, and I ordered chicken nuggets. With these small masses of mystery meat, I asked for honey mustard sauce. Now I know that having a PhD isn't required to work at a fast food joint, but if you don't know what a customer is asking for, ask someone else. The girl working the drive-thru couldn't grasp the idea that there was a specific sauce called "honey mustard." Instead, she decided to improvise and gave me separate packets of honey and mustard, probably expecting me to mix it on my own. I almost lost my mind over this relatively simple thing.

Yes...I lost my temper over honey mustard sauce.

I have tried to keep this particular beast under wraps. I believe I'm ugly enough without letting rage distort my features. (Becky's gonna give me a talking to for that little comment.) And today, I'm pretty sure I didn't make myself all that attractive to any member of the human race.

I'm sitting here at my computer, and the television is right next to me. I have a movie playing, as is my old habit from when I lived alone in AZ. A movie playing sets up the illusion of there being other people around, specifically when Becky is off at school or work. The volume on my TV is not all that low, yet it remains at a respectable level so as not to disturb my neighbors.

Would that the same could be said of them.

I was sitting here, and through the wall comes that damnable thumping of a bass line. Since I'm not about to run around the world for any specific reason, I chose to pound of the wall. This received no response whatsoever. The thumping through the wall continued.

Thus, I hobbled around to the front of the house, up the short, uneven set of stairs, located the apartment with the loud music with ease, and pounded as loud as possible on the door. My actions freaked the guy out. With his own colorful words, he answered the door and I laid into him verbally. I didn't give him much time to respond, and I was still mutter as I walked away about his level of ass-hattery. He must have heard something else, since he was asking, "What did you just say?!?"

I kept walking.

By the time I got back to my apartment, I was starting to suffer an anxiety attack. I don't like confrontations, and when pushed enough to become angry, the anxiety level rises exponentially. Frankly, I couldn't take a half a Valium fast enough.

Whatever the idiot thought he heard, he felt it was enough reason to not lower his music. So now I did that which the landlord instructed me to do: I called the cops. No, I didn't dial 911. That's for emergencies. I called the non-emergency line to file my complaint.

Within about 10 minutes, the cops arrived, and I received a call from their communication department to let them in through the locked front door. I then returned to my apartment, looking forward to the peace I should then have...

...and the little punk decided to ignore the cops warning to lower the music.

I gave up. With the Valium kicking in, I decided to do my best to ignore the noise. It helps when my mind suddenly has difficulty focusing. In fact...this is the end of the post. My brain is drifting, so...Be well, and DFTBA!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The first rule of Facebook...

...is not that we don't talk about Facebook. It's that we don't play games on Facebook. Why? Because they suck your soul out of your body, into the computer, never to be seen again. Never ever!

But what do I do instead? I let Becky convince me to play Sim Social for the sake of her having yet another format with which to flirt with me. Because, you know...having me here, in person, is obviously not enough. =P

So I bring up the app, create a character as close to resembling me as possible...and discover that I may have done only too well. What makes me say this? Well, there are these things that your character demands you do often. Perhaps a little too often.

My character needs to use the bathroom what seems to be every other minute. This means that he's probably crossed the renal threshold, spilling sugar into his urine, and he's in desperate need of controlling his diabetes.

He then needs to wash his hands, almost as often as I do, meaning that he has just enough of a touch of OCD as I have.

Oh...and because his body isn't processing sugar properly, what with lacking insulin and all, he is constantly hungry, as well as needing to sleep quite often.

With illness starting to dominate his very existence, he feels a need to visit friends several times a day. Alas, none of them have a medical degree, and none of them have the insulin he so desperately needs.

Thus, my Sim character, literally exhausted because his body isn't being fueled properly, makes his way home...to play games on his computer or play guitar. (*I* can't play guitar, but my Sim can. How unfair is that?)

Who needs real life?

Every day is a struggle in the Sims world. In less than 24 hours of playing, my character has had to fix his computer, which, quite oddly, involved a wrench and a bit of kicking. Have you ever taken a wrench to YOUR computer in an effort to fix it? Unless its power source is a diesel engine, I doubt it. The very same methods of repair were made when it came to the toilet, which my character apparently stopped up. My amateur diagnosis is that he's eating too much fiber. I mean, the guy SITS down every time. So...either his diet needs addressing, or he has stock in toilet paper and is making his own small effort to drive the price up.

For reasons beyond my understanding, several frogs keep appearing on my property. To get rid of them, I apparently have to take a picture of them. A quick review of my Bible reveals that what's REALLY happening is that the Sims world is being visited by one of the ten plagues, and it should "let my people go." But, no...I'll snap a few shots first. This way, when yet another version of the Bible is written, I'll have photographic evidence of G-d's work.

I'm also bothered by the property on which my character resides. As far as I'm concerned, he should be renting. The jobless hack can't afford to own a place, that's for sure. That said, the property is a mess, and it's apparently HIS job to clear it of weeds, mushrooms, wild flowers, and these things that just have to be growing into tumbleweeds. It's also his job to water the trees and the flowers, the latter of which he was forced to plant. What my character SHOULD do, since he MUST be renting, is call the landlords and let them know that the property is in need of serious landscaping. Okay, okay...my character will handle the flowers; they were his doing. But trimming the grass - by hand, no less - shouldn't be his responsibility.

Being strong-armed into being a social character, I've been contemplating making my character the neighborhood slut. The game hands players a few NPCs to visit. I also have Becky, whom my character is dating. However, that being said, there's the opportunity to flirt with the NPCs as well once you've clicked on them. If he flirts with all of them, and eventually dates all of them, will my character end up with a bad reputation? If so, will my character be run out of town after becoming a home-wrecker? Or maybe, instead of seeking some kind of legitimate job, my character can become a male prostitute. Think Becky's Sim will become suspicious when my Sim starts asking for money after we've made whoopee?

The real fun comes when you ignore the game for an extended period. When you bring it back up, the character's numerous statuses go from green, to light green, to yellow, to red. Essentially, this means that he's in dire need of sleep, food, washing, bathroom relief, fun, and social activity. One would expect to find the Sim standing there, skeletal from lack of food, with a distended bladder, weeping in a corner, with circles of exhaustion around his eyes. How am I supposed to handle all of this on my own? MY SIM NEEDS HOSPITALIZATION!

Okay, okay...I'm being a goofball. Becky is probably going to read this and think she's done something horrible, "forcing" me to play. But I don't really mind. I mean, it gives me material for silly posts like this, right? =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tears of an Angel

It was one of "those" days. Becky was scheduled to work from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Just a five-hour shift. But a day shift as a supermarket cashier can be quite hectic. Everyone too busy to do their food shopping during the week shows up on the weekend. And when the weekend rolls around, many people seem to shut off their brains. I can understand this to an extent. I mean, they've taxed their gray matter for five days in a row; they need the rest. HOWEVER, if this is the case, I honestly wish they would stay home, where they can't affect anyone else beyond family. Really...If you're going to flex your stupidity, do so with those who don't have a choice of whether or not they should deal with you. Leave the innocent masses alone.

Ah, but I'm asking for the impossible. If people are going to be stupid come the weekend, then they're not going to be smart enough to stay home, are they? No...they're going to go out and stun the world with how low an IQ can become and still not be considered legally mentally retarded.

This was the case with Becky's very last customer. Having dealt with numerous people already straining their brain power to their limits, she came across "Mrs. Absolute Moron" mere minutes before she was due to go home. Mrs. Moron decided to break her overflowing basket into three separate orders, but couldn't decide what went where. So as the conveyor belt moved everything forward, and Becky was trying to scan everything, Mrs. M would shift things around, or wait until AFTER Becky had scanned something to say, "Oh, no...that doesn't go with that order."

It gets better. Mrs. Moron had a thick stack of coupons that were completely unorganized. She kept apologizing for not having a coupon organizer. I think she should have been apologizing for not going through them before going to the market and removing those she had no intention of using in the first place. I also believe an apology was in order for not even reading the coupons. "One per customer" means that you can only use the coupon once during a visit. It does not mean the coupon is used once for each item of the same type. But it was upon the latter that Mrs. Moron insisted, complicating Becky's job.

Allow me to add to this: when Becky says, "I'm not authorized to (whatever it is she not permitted to do)," it means exactly that. She can't force a coupon to be used more than once. She can't override the cash register in any way. She is not a supervisor and she doesn't have magical powers. Still, Mrs. Moron kept insisting that Becky perform the miraculous.

This special brand of idiot stretched 4:00 to 4:15...and then to 4:30...and on into 4:45.

That's when I finally called. In the past, Becky has been forced to work up to 20 minutes past her clock-out time. I tend to make allowances for this, while also praying she's not off with her boyfriend. (This is an ongoing joke with us, pretending the other has someone else on the side. It coincides with the idea that I was "married" to Nike before even meeting Becky.) But my beloved not being home 45 minutes after punch-out time was a bit much for me. She might have called me briefly to tell me she was going to be late, but she'd left her cell phone at home. And my true concern was that something was horribly wrong in the universe. (They're called "accidents" for a reason.) Thus, I called her workplace to find out if Becky was even there.

The woman at customer service, after being convinced that I was not a debt collector, brought Becky to the phone. My lady-love, trying to hold her tongue because Mrs. Moron was within earshot, told me that she was just getting off from work, and that she'd explain when she got home. Only then did I learn about her "Adventures in Dumb."

Prior to going to work, Becky had made plans for the evening. She wanted to use some cheesecake mix she'd bought to make us a rare treat. She wanted to cook dinner. She'd also wanted to sit outside and do some school work, as it was in the mid-70s and slightly breezy, making it a positively gorgeous day. Well, the idiot customer had screwed her homework plans, as it was getting a little too late to sit outside. The cheesecake idea had to be set aside, as we didn't have all the utensils needed to make it. (We'd made sure to have all the ingredients, but a whisk? Oops!) And when it came to dinner...In her frustration and desire to relax, Becky forgot that she was supposed to stir the cooking meal. It didn't really burn, but it did become slightly overcooked.

That was it. Her psyche had had enough. In a span of two and a half hours, Becky had been inundated with one frustrating disappointment after another. While I had gone into another room to take some insulin before eating, Becky broke down.

It was the absolute silence that caught my attention. Instead of hearing the clatter of the pan as she further inspected the meal for possible evidence of charcoal, I heard nothing at all.

This was because she'd moved into the sound-dampening space of the bathroom, which I discovered upon coming out to investigate. I coaxed her out of her emotional collapse long enough to fold her into my arms, and I held her, gently saying that that things were not as bad as they seemed. Mrs. Moron, the inability to sit outside to do homework, the cheesecake goof, and the minor overcooking of dinner...none of these things, on their own was worth the tears. But together, they conspired to turn her evening into crap. With me on hand, I wouldn't allow these things to become a reason for utter despair.

I was quick to offer to pay for some Chinese food, but that wasn't needed. Dinner, it turns out, wasn't bad at all. It was a little tough to chew, as a few noodles had been turned into a leathery substance, but it honestly tasted no different than if it had me "properly" prepared. I suspect that Becky thinks I forced the meal down, just to make her feel better. That's not the case at all, and she should know better. Bad night or not, I would have said, "Baby...we need to order in, as this meal is now capable of removing toxins from the bloodstream." (Charcoal is used in hospitals for that purpose.)

When I was holding her, in her greatest moment of upset, I wasn't wearing a shirt. After she'd cried a bit, she paused a moment to wipe the tears from my shoulder.

She shouldn't have worried. As long as we're together, I will hold her for as long as it takes for the anxiety and frustration to dissipate. I will whisper in her ear for hours, if need be, until she finally believes me when I say that everything will be okay. And I will always, now and forever, be willing to catch her tears...the tears of an angel. The tears of MY angel. =)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

24 Days

Ew.

Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew!

I have been doing my best to stay clean under the circumstances. I shave. I wash my hair. I use antibacterial wipes to kill the plethora of bacteria growing on me. But in terms of truly getting clean, none of this is as good as a shower. Neither hot nor cold, I enjoy the idea of using soap and having all the "stuff" getting washed away with the flow of warm water.

Today makes it 24 days since my last shower. I think I'm overdue.

Turning back the hands of time, I can recall the second multiple nerve decompression surgery I had. This time, the doctor had worked on my right side. Due to the slow healing experienced on my left foot and leg, he decided to leave the staples in my ankle for an extra week. Instead of three, I went four weeks with staples holding my ankle closed. He then plucked them out and instructed me to wait 24 hours before showering.

I was a good boy. I didn't just hear what he said...I LISTENED! I waited just OVER 24 hours, and then FINALLY enjoyed a shower. You must understand how difficult it was at the time. I mean, I lived in Phoenix, AZ, which can be hot, dry, and windy. I would regularly be covered in desert detritus. To go 28 days without a shower had been rough, but I'd done it, was was about to be rewarded with the joys of getting truly clean!

When I was done, I was toweling off, when I realized that there was an awful lot of blood dripping from my foot. Without my glasses, I couldn't see the end of my leg very well, and the lighting in the tub wasn't all that great either. Leaving a trail of blood drops, I headed into the well-lit portion of the bathroom and saw...

Ugh!

...and saw that the incision along my ankle had split wide open, allowing me to see the inner workings of my foot. I was mildly fascinated and greatly nauseated. It took a great deal of willpower not to vomit on the entirely-too-open wound. I covered the wound in as much gauze as I could and hustled off to the doctor's office for him to examine it.

Well, it all worked out in the end. I mean, it healed...eventually.

But this is why I've held off on taking a shower for so long. The stitches were removed over a week ago. I was told to wait a few days before showering. But, no...I had every intention of playing it as safe as possible. I have been avoiding my residual toe soaking in water for a week beyond the doctor's recommendation of elapsed time for a shower.

Today, my friends! Today is the day it happens! I will be clean! AND THERE ARE NONE WHO CAN STOP ME! (And probably many who are saying, "It's about time!")

Edit: The results of the shower were somewhat frightening. Due to the lack of even intermittent moisture, I believe I removed a complete layer of skin-like substance during the vigorous drying process. "Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew," indeed.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"The problem...

...with quotes on the internet is that a large percentage of them are wrong." -Abraham Lincoln

If you didn't catch that, you have to stop reading my blog and immediately return to elementary school...and NEVER come back! =P

Honestly, I've been trying to figure out why technology makes people so incredibly stupid. You would think that we'd advance intellectually as technology made its leaps forward. Instead, it seems to become the next greatest reason to become lazy and stupid.

My "favorite" example of late involves our favorite religious group, the Westboro "Church." I hate dragging Godwin's Law into this, but they're about as close to Nazis as one can get without committing acts of violence. And what absolutely kills me is their latest antic, which is their scheduled protest of Steve Jobs's funeral...which they announced via iPhone. To quote their Twitter announcement, "Westboro will Picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave G-d no glory & taught sin." When it was pointed out they were essentially losing this one because they were using the very technology Jobs had created, Marge Phelps replied with, "Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in Hell. G-d created the iPhone for that purpose!" She even included a smiley emoticon.

If religion produces this level of ignorance and stupidity, I'm becoming an atheist.

The original article about this that I'd read was even more disturbing, in that it had a picture. There was one of the Westboro lunatics holding some of their favorite messages. "You're going to hell." "Thank G-d for 9/11." Beside the woman holding these slogans was a guy with his own poster board, "G-d hates signs." But the most distressing thing about the picture was the smiling boy, around the age of seven, holding a sign that read, "G-d hates fags."

This isn't freedom of speech; it's freedom of stupidity.

Speaking of freedom of speech, what about my freedom of hearing? I don't want such messages thrown at me. I don't want to hear them. I don't want to read them. These people are lunatics and should be bustled off to a cave and left there until dead. I mean, provided there IS a G-d, I'm pretty sure what He truly hates is intolerance. My right to be left in peace from these morons is being violated...

...by the media. These idiots only have the attention that they enjoy because the news media jumps up and down excitedly every time they open their collective mouths. And technology has ensured that I'm going to hear about, read about it, SOMETHING about it as soon as the feed can deliver it to me. And I don't want it. The only way to avoid this kind of idiocy is to never bring up the internet again. So I have to stop doing something I WANT to do in order to avoid something I don't want at all.

"Oh, Rob...Stop your complaining and go outside or something." Trust me, I would if I could walk. I'm still healing from surgery, and still have that pesky cast on my other foot. But trust me...I'll be getting away from technology a bit as soon as I'm physically capable of it.

Still, it won't be an escape. I'm going to want to connect to my friends via the virtual world, and am going to connect to the internet at some point...and that's when my right to have a little peace from morons is going to be violated. Just a headline that reads "Westboro Church at it again" would be a disruption for me, as I'd know there'd been no air strike against one of their protests. And, really...that's what these "people" need. I get the sense that the first people to wipe out this "church" using flame throwers will be hailed as heroes.

And THAT would be using technology for the betterment of humanity.

So...to the media: stop following the Westboro lunatics! Let them go the way of the dodo. You're the reason they have any voice at all. If you would shut up, I'd have one less reason for a Xanax prescription!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Complaint Department

I'm not terribly happy of late. It could well be that as the seasons change, I'm sinking into some form of seasonal depression. It's one of the reasons why there's been such a gap between blog posts, as I haven't been of a mood to write much. It's not for a lack of things to report. I mean, I got fitted for the brace and my replacement cast was covered with paw prints. It was very cute and amused Becky to no end. This was followed by the adventure of thinking something had gotten into my cast, and had to have it removed to discover nothing was there. (The replacement cast is orange.) The stitches came out of my residual toe and it appears to be healing nicely. The cold I reported a week ago finally seems to be fading. I have things to say.

But I often find myself sitting at my computer, watching a BBC show called "QI" for hours on end, and no desire to do much of anything else. Given any time alone to think, I don't have many pleasant thoughts. Nothing that suits my typical symptoms of depression, mind you. I'm not dwelling on suicide, as is my wont. No, I'm on my meds, and they're working.

Instead, I find myself thinking about such things as the level of stupidity Stu has demonstrated. Like a child unable to defend himself, he went running to our father with the essential desire to whine. "Daddy, Rob's being mean! And you should see what he said about you!" My father would never have found my blog had Stu not directed him on where to go. Thus, a rift was created, and I was left with the inability to report the goings-on with my toe. And it was Stu's doing. This blog was for my friends, and that was it. Stu found it, didn't like what he read, and once again took the route of an infant and had a temper tantrum. In the process, he ruined a father/son relationship, all because he couldn't be a grown up about it. In the greatest of family traditions, Stu has proven without doubt that he is his mother's son.

Please, G-d, let me be like none of them...EVER!

Then there's been this increasing feeling of being a disappointment to Becky. There was so much that was supposed to happen once I'd moved in. I was going to do my best to keep house while she was off at school and/or working. There was also supposed to be a great deal of time playing games, watching movies, or...ummm...more adult activities.

But what happened instead? I walked in the door and started coming apart.

Becky often says that it's not my fault that I'm disabled...that I come down with one illness or another. The thing is, she's wrong. These things ARE my fault. I'm the one who screwed around with my diabetes to the point that the complications were assured to affect me. I dug this gloriously destructive hole for myself to lie in, and now I am suffering the consequences. As a kind of added bonus, Becky suffers vicariously with me.

She could, and should, do better.

Chances are excellent that she'll read that statement later and reprimand me for it. She seems to think I'm a one-of-a-kind item. But my argument is as follows: in order to demonstrate that someone is somewhat unique among the masses, they are told that they are "one in a million." Assuming that's true of myself, we now skip to the fact that there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet. Mathematically, that translates to the idea that there are 7,000 people just like me. Just as kind. Just as caring. Just as funny. Just as cynical. Just as needy. A perfect combination that seems to have attracted my beloved...and there are 7,000 of them out there...and one of them has to be younger and healthier than I.

My life isn't where I wanted it to be when I envisioned it decades ago. Then again, if it had worked itself out as I dreamt, I wouldn't be with my beloved Becky. So while I have my complaints, I also have plenty for which to be thankful.

Be well, and DFTBA!