Monthly Archives: April 2014

Then and Now

Day Three of being unemployed, and I’ve already got my benefits claim started, visited the local employment office for the intake interview, cobbled together a resume, and filled out two applications. I ain’t messing around. I have no intention of being jobless for a moment longer than I have to be, and not to put too fine a point on things, but right now I’m basically throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks.

This is so unlike the place I was in exactly one year ago, when I was in the middle of that spectacular flame-out that cost me my executive nursing position. The difference is like night and day; then, I was meek and frightened, like a little field mouse. Now, I’m definitely not happy about being out of work, but I don’t feel like a failure and I’ll be damned if I’ll let this define who I am as a worker OR as a human being. I can’t afford to. I’ve got to work at least another 11 years and if I think of myself as someone who can’t hold a job—no matter WHAT it says on my job applications—I’m defeated before I even get started. No bueno.

A year ago, I was bitter and angry at having been kicked to the curb like garbage. Now, not so much. I did everything I reasonably could to learn the job and absorb the massive amounts of information I was supposed to commit to memory, and when I couldn’t do it, the powers that be did what they had to. It was nobody’s fault, and I don’t believe for a minute that the bipolar figured into it at all. If I could have actually done the job, the BP wouldn’t have mattered. Of course, if I didn’t have BP I might have been in a better position to do the job, but now we’ll never know. Feces eventuates.

A year ago, I had no hope. I just knew nothing good would ever happen to me again career-wise; it was over and done and I would stay mired in mediocrity forever. Now, even though the surveyor job didn’t work out, I have the knowledge that I beat out 54 other people for it, which obviously means I’ve got SOMETHING on the ball. Nobody just waltzes into a state government office and gets handed a job like that. I earned it. The fact that I was unable to perform the duties of the position doesn’t mean I’m irredeemably defective; it just means I need to set my sights a little lower and look for work that doesn’t demand that which I am unable to give.

A year ago, I was a hot mess. Now I’m in remission, my head is on straight (once again, thanks to Zyprexa) and I’m moving forward. I don’t know which direction the winds of change will blow, but I’m going to put my trust in God to help me figure it all out.

 


Just a Hunch

I take care of Dad on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11:30 till 5.  I give him lunch.  He always has something good in mind for me to construct for him (like sardines, ugh).  It makes my heart full to do anything at all to make his life easier, these days.

On Mondays the Hospice nurses visit.  They are certainly angels come to minister in a bleak and terrifying landscape.  Dad tries to tell her how Mom bullies him, he’s afraid of her.  Now that he’s helpless, he can’t do anything to hold her in check when she explodes.

I see it all the time: the way he looks up, terrified, when his barely-functional hands betray him and he drops food in his lap.  He says “Damn,” as if to let her know he knows he’s been bad; and he scrambles as fast as he can to pick the food up off his bib or his lap, wherever it’s landed.  He can no longer bend over from his wheelchair to pick things up off the floor.  Whenever something eludes him completely and ends up on the floor, he is near to panic.

I miss the obscenely obese old dog they used to have, who eagerly waited under the table for dropped treats.  He became incontinent and my mother had him put down.  I understand that she couldn’t handle my dad and the sick dog at the same time, but it makes me sad, and I miss the dog’s function.

But getting back to the hospice nurse who visits on Mondays.  She always checks Dad’s feet, since he is diabetic and feet are sitting ducks for getting ulcers and ultimately needing to be amputated.  We don’t want that.

He had sandals on, with Velcro straps that had been put on way too tight, probably by the untrained helper who gets him out of bed, showered, and dressed in the morning.  He does mean well, but he doesn’t understand certain things.  One is that Dad’s feet and legs are tremendously vulnerable, not only because of the diabetes but because his heart is failing, and that means his circulation in his lower legs and feet is even worse than usual.

On Monday, when we got his sandals and socks off, his feet were black.  I mean black.

The nurse was emphatic that he see a doctor about his feet ASAP; I didn’t need any convincing.

Since Mom was out, the nurse asked me to convey this to Mom as soon as she returned.

However, I know what happens whenever I do anything like that: “You make a big deal out of everything.  You’re always overreacting.”

I asked the nurse if she would please call my mother and tell her.  Mom would take her word of authority.  The nurse did that.

After the nurse left, I got Dad settled with his feet up on a cushioned chair, where he fell asleep.  I inspected his feet further, and as I did, I got a whiff of an odor I have smelled many times before: the sickly-sweet smell of dying flesh.  Tears wet my cheeks, made their way into my mouth, and I had to run for a tissue to catch the snot.  I always snot a lot when I cry.

After the nurse’s phone call, Mom did scramble to get an appointment with the podiatrist.  It’s now Wednesday, and he saw the podiatrist this morning.  A fungal infection, he said, and prescribed some cream.  I took a look at the feet today, and there are some bubbles; somehow I don’t think it’s fungus, but I will be very happy if I am indeed over-reacting.  I guess I have seen too much, and amputated too many feet during my time in practice.

Monday night I got take-out Chinese food for them.  I made an exception to my strictly Kosher diet, and ate some vegetarian fried rice.

Dad has been having dreadful, painful coughing fits, especially when eating (which takes more effort than you would think), and coughing up clear and/or frothy fluid: congestive heart failure.  The heart does not have the strength to pump the blood through the lungs and out to the body, so the blood stagnates in the lungs.  Fluid from the blood makes its way into the airway, causing cough and shortness of breath.  The person is literally drowning in their own fluids.

Dinner on Monday night was dicey.  He was coughing and eating fried rice, and I was afraid he would inhale it.  He was afraid he would drop something in his lap.

Although Tuesday is supposedly my day to catch up on errands, etc., I had a hunch I’d better stop by the house.  They were having lunch when I arrived.  Dad was really having trouble eating.  It seemed as if every bite he took cost him a coughing fit.  Finally the coughing overcame his will, and he succumbed to it.  He couldn’t catch his breath at all, and turned absolutely blue.

Hospice has provided us with an emergency med box, containing everything from Tylenol suppositories to morphine drops, to, frighteningly, drops to put under the tongue of a dying person to thin the agonal secretions and relieve air hunger.

Fortunately, the box also contains a few tablets of Lasix, a diuretic (water pill) that magically sends extra fluids to the kidneys, where they leave the body as urine.  That’s what was needed, to get the fluid out, and fast.

I rummaged in the box, found the Lasix, and then felt that I should at least call Hospice and let them know that I had pillaged the box.  Most Hospice family members are not doctors, and I thought it would at least be courteous to let them know I was going to use one of the contents of the box.

The nurse on call was not one I knew, and she didn’t know who I am.  She disagreed with my plan, and suggested I give him some morphine for comfort.  I explained that he had been on Lasix previously for his heart, but it had been discontinued because he was incontinent of urine, which made my mother mad.  Now she’s used to it, especially since other people change his bed and diapers, for the most part.

At that the nurse agreed.  I gave him the pill, and half an hour later he peed the fluid out.  He’s been mostly OK in the respiratory department since then, although I notice today that he’s starting up again.  I had our regular nurse call us in a prescription, so we’ll have a supply of Lasix for when we need it.

It’s Wednesday, and I spent the day with Dad as usual.  He’s been hallucinating a lot, and was pretty scared.  His feet were swollen again, so I wheeled him over where he could put his feet up on his hospital bed.  He took a nap for a while, and I read, until 3 o’clock when he woke up a bit restless.  He wanted the Westerns channel on TV.  I put that on for him, and suggested a l’chaim.  He lit up at that.  So I got us each a Scotch, and we toasted each other’s happiness, wherever our paths might lead.  Then we drank likker and made a running commentary on Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, he with his feet up and me sitting on his bed, happy as a couple of cackling crows.

I’m really, really going to miss him when he goes.


Bipolarly 2014-04-30 23:15:00

This will be brief, but I wanted to post an update for anyone wondering what happened to me.  The truth is, I’m not really sure.  I am having what I believed to be another batch of cluster headaches (if you are not familiar with this type, look it up: they hurt really bad!) but along with those I am having intense bouts of rage, so much so that I am unbearable to my family.  D almost left with our son this morning.  I am glad that he didn’t; on the other hand, maybe that would be best for them, though not for me. I have had thoughts of killing myself just so they don’t have to deal with me anymore.  That may sound absurd to you readers, but you aren’t in this household, so you don’t really know how bad it is.  So there.

While the rage is the most terrible part of all of this, I am also troubled by how these headaches are affecting not only my behavior, but my speech and coordination.  Yeah, yeah, go to the doctor you say.  Well, we’re working on it.  We don’t have the money.  I don’t have insurance.  But we’re working on figuring out something. Obviously.

In the meantime, no, I have not been visiting anyone’s blogs.  Please don’t be offended.  I still enjoy reading them, but my vision has been very poor with all of this going on, as well as my concentration.  I am not going to be writing on here.  I just can’t.

If you are spiritual, your prayers are appreciated. If you are not, don’t worry about it.  It is what it is.  If you have a medical degree and/or have any idea what could cause this type of headache/rage/etc. then feel free to fill me in.  I am guessing it could be neurogical, psychological, or hormonal, or a combination of those.  But I am not a doctor.  So I can’t say for sure, and Web MD just makes me think I have a brain tumor.  So I am trying to avoid any attempts at self diagnosis.

Her name is… (prelude to Mornings)

Riley Reynolds was 32 and a half  years old the morning she woke up crazy.  It was a bizarre and beautiful and terrifying experience all at once.  Pretty much the […]

Perpetuum Jazzile

Perpetuum Jazzile I have a list of articles I want to write, but unfortunately, my time has been limited the past couple of days and it’s 1:00 am right now, I didn’t want to skip posting today so I decided to post some of my favorite Youtube videos. The first one I’ve posted before, but, […]

Bottle this (mania)

I’ve gone manic. The good kind. Productive. Just tearing into stuff I have been putting off because it feels me with dread. I am trying to pace myself so I don’t crash and burn.

I guess the Lithium made a difference in the cycling. I am now all over the map. I am going to see if time changes anything. I love the mania. LOVE it. Except the bad mania which results too often in mornings of “WHAT THE FUCK DID I DO LAST NIGHT????)  Seriously, if mania could be bottled and sold, people would give up coke, heroin, and meth. This shit rocks. It’s dangerous, though. Which is why doctors are reluctant to give bipolars an antidepressant. But if you are bipolar two with more depressions than manic episodes, there’s little choice. You have to risk it or end up in a looney bin, or worse, a suicide statistic.

My mind is spinning. As evidenced by two posts in one day. I know some find that irritating but oh well. I find everything irritating. I vent and I move on. Such is life.

I feel like I could tackle anything right now. But it’s just a short burst of mania that will fizzle out. That’s the bummer. Ignorant people say it’s being pessimistic but if you’ve been through it enough, you know it’s simply the nature of the beast that is bipolar.

Now, back to a rousing round of Kitten Deathmatch. I lied when I said I can’t feel joy. I do feel warm and fuzzy watching these fluffalumps. I am mooshy when it comes to cats.

Sometimes I wish I could feel that for people. But too many knives in the back sever your warm fuzzy feelings for your fellow human. You keep hoping it will be different next time…It never is. I keep trying. They say never give up. They also say idiocy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

I think…it’s all ass trash.

Life is a catch 22 from hell.

At the moment, though…As mania dwindles down…I’m resigned to taking it one hour at a time. Cyclothymia doesn’t leave much choice.


Welcome Spring!

DSC_0057

Welcome Spring at last!

Bonding with my camera

Love the great outdoors!


Filed under: Bipolar Gratitude, Haiku fuckin rocks, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Triggered

My day started in a good mood. Manic, almost. I went to the shop and of course R and Kenny were in bad moods. Ha! It never fails, even with my beloved Bex, ass trash . And while she gets it, the others around me think I am being a mocking bitch, as if to say, “Look, you’re down and I’m happy about it.” Can’t get it right.

After I came home (I only stayed an hour because that’s as much human contact as I can stomach) I got a knock on the door that sent my anxiety soaring and my OCD into hyperdrive. My place with cited by the code inspector for too many cats and a messy yard. Ass Trash.

I’ve picked it up three times. The kids just bring their trash and leave it in the yard. The cats, well, I have gotten rid of three, ffs, and I put mine inside. I can’t do shit about the ferals. And the maintenance man/devil incarnate said, “Well, I’ve been setting traps and I’ll bring my dog over here to tear ‘em to shreds.” IDIOT motherfucker. Hate people like that. You’re fine with a dog, but you have issues with cats? You’re okay with animal cruelty? Waste of oxygen, as far as I am concerned.

So now I am jumpy and paranoid and my brain is obsessing about it non stop. I TRY so fucking hard. I can’t get it right.Reminds me of my old apartment, after my near death from a med interaction and week in the hospital. My idiot landlord said my housekeeping was bad. DUH, I have lower standards than someone who lives on the ritzy side with a fucking maid. He made me get an independent living advisor to keep an eye on the place. She, and her boss, came in over and over and said it looked fine to them. He evicted me.

Can’t get it right.

I try. I fail. I wonder why I bother.

And the kicker is all these people who are so willing to pass judgment refuse to acknowledge my illness is legit and I might occasionally need some help during the depressions so things don’t get out of control. I’m willing to admit I am in over my head sometimes. I even offered my sister money back in August to come help me and she refused. She’s too tired.

Ass Trash

This is the stuff that leads me to despair. I am willing to ask for help, no one is willing to lend it. But they are sooo fast to judge and criticize. Weird thing is, if I purposely walked into a tree chipper, I’d have visible wounds and they’d all clamor to help. But mental illness isn’t real in their world, it’s a character flaw.

Is it any wonder I prefer the company of cats and kids? They don’t judge.

Another irritation…Now that I am on the mood upswing, suddenly R wants me around the shop. Cos Kenny is working and he has no company, and my current mood amuses him. Yet during my darkest hour…He didn’t want anything to do with me. Kinda like when we lived together.I’m good as long as I’m not sick, then it’s time to shun me.

I sometimes wish I could sue them all for the emotional trauma they inflict. They’re clueless as to the damage they do. Intentional or not. I mean, how the fuck do you think you get damaged and have personality disorders and unsavory traits? Usually because something has happened often enough to brainwash or traumatize you. Or people ostracize and fail you over and over again. THEY do the damage and I am the one stuck with all the dysfunctional labels and it’s me who has to clean up THEIR mess.

I am not absolving my own faults. But I sure as hell didn’t give myself an inferiority complex or fear of people. That would be nine years of being called names, spit  on, and bullied for no reason other than I didn’t fit the redneck mold. You move on, but you never get over it. I am the posterchild for “bullying is not “kids will be kids”. It is NOT harmless.

Nor is being rejected for having an illness.

Ass  trash.

****Did I link to you enough, Rebecca? :p


Neurotic People Prefer Inaction

A recent study published in the April edition of The Journal of Personality suggests that people who are neurotic avoid making decisions that can improve their lives and accomplish their goals. Why do they avoid these decisions? Well, based on the study, they don’t accomplish acting towards their goals because they don’t want to. or […]

Thud

Recently I was in a collision with a car. I was cycling down a main road when I saw a car in a side road, edging too far forward to join the flow of traffic, advance into my path, into the path of the oncoming traffic.There was nothing I could do – I was at most 3 metres away. I tried to brake, but nothing could avert the thud of dread and relief as my front wheel hit the driver’s door. I leant forward, my legs astride my bike, my let arm  against the driver’s window staring at her in disbelief, anger and relief in my yellow cycling jacket. After half an hour, or maybe a few seconds, the opening and closing of her lips and the darting movement of her terrified pupils pierced the window and I heard her say ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.’

I took my hand away from her window and she moved off across the traffic. I put my feet back on the pedals and moved forwards. A few metres further on and the traffic came to a halt as the lights turned to red, and a traffic warden on the pavement beside me asked if I was alright.

In truth I had been lucky. My bike was undamaged (the last time I had had a slow motion altercation with a car – several years ago – my bike was written off). I was shaken but otherwise intact. I cycled on to the shops, ran my errands, returned home, and told my family what had happened. Naturally they were concerned, sympathetic and relieved that it had not been more serious.

I kept cycling about town as usual, cycling down the same road where it had happened.

Life went on. Everything had changed.

I hadn’t been hurt, my bike was in good working order. My confidence hadn’t been dented. I wasn’t sure why, but I kept thinking about my leaning against the car with my left hand in it’s fingerless cycling glove splayed against the window.  I saw her silent mouth moving, her pupils fidgeting, uncertain, with nowhere to go.

She was the one who was more shaken than me. She had been in the wrong, not me.

As the days went by, and I continued to cycle confidently around town, or in the countryside, I thought about the incident, and about the driver in particular. The traffic warden had shown concern for me, had been on my side. But she she had described the driver as a ‘girl’ – I forget the rest of the sentence. ‘The driver was a woman!’ I shot back before continuing down the road. I felt affronted by the infantilising description the (female) traffic warden had used. As I played this part of the episode over and over again in my mind during the coming days, it dawned on me that I felt empathy with what I imagined she must have felt, and perhaps, still felt. My confidence had not been damaged by the incident, but I thought of who I had seen through the window, her silent lips moving, trying to communicate through the window, the panic in her eyes as she finally moved away across the road. Had she been able to continue driving, apparently unperturbed, as I had done? How had she felt the next time she sat behind the wheel, or saw a cyclist on the road?

Of course things could have been a lot worse.The road might have been clear in front of me – I could have been going at double the speed. What then? I could well have careered into the car and put my head, my face, through the window. I’m relieved that that didn’t happen.But what if it had, and my face would have been badly cut, scarred in fact, from the impact? Who would have suffered more then?

This episode has made me think. It has reinded me that there are people sicker than me. I don’t mean terminally ill, on dyalisis, cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Well, actually I do – when it comes to spina bifida. I was born with a condition called hydrocephalus. You can read about it in an earlier edition here: puncturerepairkit.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/i-robot/  My point is – even with a serious medical condition as this is – most people born with it also have spina bifida. I don’t; and what’s more my hydrocephalus, though it rquired several operations during my childhood, is no longer a medical factor. ‘Cured’ is not quite the word, but it is no longer of any concern. So that’s a good thing.

And mentally, too, I have got off lightly. In my working life, in the field of mental health, I regularly encounter people who are, or have been, a lot sicker than me. I have never had a psychotic episode, been sectioned (for overseas readers unfamiliar with this term it means being detained in hospital against one’s will) or spent a single night on a psychiatric ward. No scars on my wrists.

I am very fortunate. But all this, the ‘bike bump’ – ‘crash’ seems too dramatic – no spina bifida, no psychiatric hospitalisation, makes it all feel insignificant. And so I persist. You don’t really think I am suffering? Well let me show you! I suffer a relapse (real enough, I assure you) and I am signed off sick, I have to increase my dose of mood stabilising medication. That’s one thing I can be proud of – I take no less than 5 tablets a day in an attempt to keep me on an even keel. I was signed off work for 3 years (2002 – 5). Now do you believe me?!

Now do I believe me?

In his novel set in Bucharest in 1989, at the point of the collapse of communist dictatorship there, ‘The Last Hundred Days’, Patrick McGuiness writes: ‘But all I have learned from past mistakes was how to commit new ones more knowingly. Self knowledge for me was always clarified inertia.’

Do I need to fall under the wheels of a lorry before I start to realise I am not a professional racing cyclist?

Happiness

A state you must not enter

with hopes of staying,

quicksand in the marshes, and all

the roads leading to a castle

that doesn’t exsist.

But there it is, as promised,

with its perfect bridge above

the crocodiles,

and its doors forever open.

Stephen Dunn (1939 – )