Daily Archives: October 3, 2015

Over The Line

I like to think I’m a fairly patient person.  I try to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Everybody has their own set of experiences and insecurities–me too.  And when somebody rings my chimes, I try to look inside and find what hurt, what insecurity is in there, that got my back up when they said or did that.  Usually that defuses my defensive reaction, and I can forgive and forget and make the interaction a productive one.

So it is with more than a little frustration that I have finally reached my breaking point with someone who has been very helpful, yet in equal measure annoying: Atina’s veterinary resident, the one who has been shepherding us through the grueling process of finding out what is wrong with Atina.

It started with her insisting on calling herself Doctor, while calling me by my first name.  Maybe there is a different protocol in veterinary medicine, but in human medicine, to call a senior physician by her first name without being invited to do so, let alone insisting that she, a young doctor still in training, should be called Doctor rather than by her OWN first name, is not only rude, but a major insult.

I let that slide for a few weeks, then had a joking conversation with her about it that either made her blush, or perhaps flush with anger, I don’t know.  It didn’t seem to “take,” in any case, so I guess there’s something about it that I don’t get.

After hanging around Colorado for weeks spending money on campgrounds, I had to start East.  I have stuff I have to get done before I head back to the Southwest for the winter.  I waited five days after Atina’s surgery, to make sure she was OK and that her surgical wound was stable enough to travel, and then I began making my way slowly across Kansas, what a drag.

In the meantime biopsy results are slowly rolling in, and Dr. Vet is being kind enough to forward the reports to me.  Today came a preliminary pathology report, complete with photos of the microscopic sections.  Terrible.  Really terrible.  The results, I mean.  The quality of the pathology studies is excellent.  It shows the mostly non-functioning elements of Atina’s kidneys all too well.

In my thank-you email, I mentioned that because of the storms and flooding on the East Coast, I would likely be delayed past the 14 day timeframe for taking Atina’s stitches out, and if so, I would just remove them myself.  Her reply: she would rather have a veterinarian remove them.

I wanted to blow my stack!  Here is a very junior clinician, who knows that I have many years of practice under my belt, almost all of them in the emergency department, telling me that I should not remove my dog’s stitches.  I’m sure she means well.  Maybe she is concerned that I might get bitten, doing it myself without a tech.  Who knows.

It rang my chimes.

In addition to six months of surgical training in a veterans’ hospital, where they were so short handed that I was first assistant, I did four excruciating months of facial plastics.  Excruciating, because my attending was a total asshole who sexually harassed me, at a time in history when such practices were routine and not reportable.

But the training came in handy when I worked in rural ERa where the nearest plastic surgeon might be 50 miles away, so rather than send somebody off in the middle of the night, I had the skills to repair the delicate layers over an eyelid, or fix a busted lip, reimplant a torn out tooth, pick iron filings out of a cornea using a microscope….

And also castrate my goats, fix plugged udders, sew up my horses when they ran into fence posts, perform reconstructive surgery on my Corgi when she picked a fight with my German Shepherd over ownership of a stick and got her throat badly torn (duct tape makes a fine muzzle in a pinch.  Always have some duct tape around). Of course it happened on a Sunday, and I couldn’t get a vet.  Even the large animal mobile vet wouldn’t come.  He knew me, and suggested I take care of it myself. 😠 My son, who was 14 at the time, held the thrashing Corgi down while I irrigated the wound, identified the tissue layers, and made a decent job of it despite the moving target. 

So of course I bridled at this junior physician’s opposition to my performance of this very minor procedure.  Even if there were a sign of poor healing of the deep abdominal sutures, that is first of all something very easy to detect, and secondly something that would have to wait until I could see my “home vet.”  Clearly, if it were anything major, like wound dehiscence (the wound not healing at all and instead falling apart), I would seek out an emergency veterinary hospital.

So now I’m writing this, as a way to lick my wounds.  I miss my practice.  I miss my active medical life.  I want to go home to the ER and sew people up.  I don’t want to battle death.  I just want to sew people up and pick hair beads out of ears, noses, vaginas, and any other orifices hair beads can get stuck in.  I want to lance boils and pack them with Betadine gauze.  I want to set broken bones and put dislocated shoulders back in place.

I want to rise from the dead.

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Creative

I've always been a writer. But only recently have I taken an interest in other types of art. Two summers ago I took a drawing class. It was fun. And a year ago I attended a drawing class at MOCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) in Brooklyn. The class was taught by artist Shantell Martin.

When I was in DC last summer I bought the following clutch from one of the Smithsonian Museums.

And during one of my hospital stays we had art therapy. We made collages. Here's a collage a fellow patient made. I liked it so much so he let me keep it.

Here's the collage I made. I had both collages framed.

Here's what they looked like on my bedroom wall.

That’s… Probably Not Good

So after feeling so rubbish and depressed at the weekend, I’ve had a really good week? I’ve been really productive in doing work things, though admittedly my daily focus hasn’t extended much past that. I like working, even if it’s just data entry — it’s zennishly fulfilling, and it pleases me to know that my work supports the rest of the office.

11899481_1613195232277151_1969739604_nIn the same vein, the outing Wednesday was faboo. We met up at the pub half an hour before our dinner reservation, and something about being there and away from the kids meant I was able to zone out and get a few rows on my knitting done before the meal. The meal itself was grand, and the Pasta Al Forno I picked in remembrance of bat’s baked ziti from our last meal together back home in Texas was amazing. My only complaint is that I didn’t wait for it to cool long enough, and kept having that issue where it’s not quite mouth scalding, but it’s too hot to properly process. I know, patience is a virtue. It’s hard to rock that virtue when something this gorgeous is plopped in front of you. Which is to say, my dear Dyane, it was a good outing and I am happy to report back on this. :)

So yeah, between those things, I was feeling… not depressed, but wasn’t sure where I was really. And then this morning, my closest local friend (who happens to be the mother of Smallhausen’s best friend) messaged and asked if they could come around to hang out. I was pleased, as I had missed her, and Smallhausen had only moments before asking if she could see J. I was so pleased, I even decided to have a bath.

That’s when I realised things miiiight not be okay. Things miiiiight going too good. You see, baths are hard. They’re easier than showers (not that we currently have a shower), but they are exhausting and take a lot of motivation to get me through one. And indeed, I came out of it shaky as shit because I didn’t actually have the physical resources to get through it. Freshly cleaned hair is divine and always makes me perk up slightly, but like… yeah. Something misfired to convince me that I should do it and that I could do it.

Isn’t it grand, the bipolar life, having to doubt every good mood? Now I’m starting to wonder if I’ve returned to rapid cycling after so long. It’s really mild compared to how it used to be, but it’s still making me Wary as Fuck. The only ‘bonus’ is the up seems to be either equal to or greater than the down at current, so it’s like… do I want to mess with this? Can I deal with random near-crying jags? I don’t really know. At this point, I think that the smartest thing I can do is to keep tabs on it and see where it goes. Maybe that’s me trying to duck doing anything, or maybe it’s just me prudently keeping an eye on things to make sure that I know enough to get the right treatment.

tl;dr bipolar is harrrrrrd. But y’all know that.

I’m going to go back to knitting, ’cause knitting is fun and it makes me happy. Hope you guys are all doing well out there.


Season Changing, Where The Fuck Will My Mood Go?


Oh my GARSHES can I feel the season changing, and I have Seasonal Affective Disorder worse than anyone else I have ever seen. I think Dr. Drugs would sign off on that statement as well. He makes it a practice to tell me how fragile my mood is. Thanks, my good Doctor! Anyhoo, I can sure feel the change, I mean FEEL it, with the days shortening. That’s the first thing I notice. My brain is like, “Light, don’t gooooooo!” Then, it is cooling off. Boo. Hoo. As I was taking a walk (slow walk, having just had a gigantor two-week pain episode), I thought to myself, can I gracefully walk through this season? Better yet, can I just plain WALK through this season change? Without a crash? Without a hospitalization? That is the question.

I can’t run to Florida this winter. I am living with my sister and her two kids now, happily ensconced in my own giant finished basement we call The Apartment, SO HAPPY to be with my belongings again, and fully participating in the family unit. I’m committed to taking my nephew to sewing class on Monday afternoons (so proud of him, that’s another story, but he’s seen me sewing and begged to learn), and I take my niece to and from school on Thursdays and Fridays. So I can’t just run off. Apart from that, I fill my days with oodles of medical and mental health appointments, see my parents, home projects (I love being productive), and, here’s a happy announcement, CREATIVE PROJECTS!!! Yes, as I suspected, a FUCKING DRUG was what was robbing me of my creativity for the last year and a half. My sisters and Dr. Drugs like to remind me that Clozaril saved my life, and maybe it did, but it sure robbed me of a lot of shit in the process. Now that I’m off it, my creativity has returned, which equals opportunities for joy and satisfaction in a job well done. At the moment, I am doing some sewing projects for my niece’s bedroom. So far, I have recovered a chair cushion and re-created a fabric basket (that goes in a wicker basket) in matching fabric. Now I am working on basket #2, and subsequent to that I will cover some lampshades. Once that’s done, Niece’s room will be so wildly and awesomely matchy-matchy, I might just explode with pleasure. That sounds like an orgasm. I guess it’s a creative orgasm.

Another personality trait that I feel returning is the socializing desire. While on Clozaril, I either did not want to socialize, or when in Florida I was lonely and wanted friends, but still did not want to socialize, but I forced myself. Now, I can visualize seeing my friends and spending time with them. I am chatting with them online. I want to spend time with friends. I’m actually making plans to spend time with friends. All good stuff that I hope to continue through the winter. I’m hoping to get into an exercise habit, and keep it going through the winter, because I find that exercise helps my depression between 50 and 95%, i.e. I am fifty to ninety five percent happier when I exercise. Face it. It just fucking helps the mood! Even if it’s a slow, lazy walk. Getting my ass out there helps. I’ve already bought a new down coat for winter that I think will help, and next I need to find a super-good pair of boots with good traction, and a good fit. If only Altra, my new favorite shoe company, would make boots!! I have asked them, but so far they have said “no”. They don’t know the market they’re missing out on!!!

Well I finally have the house to myself and some time to myself, the kids have gone off with their father for the weekend, and my dear sister is at work. I am going to go enjoy some sewing and then later on, of course, a walk. Above is a pic from a walk earlier in the week. Hope your week has been fantastical, or at least, didn’t suck! PEACH OUT HOMIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Creativity, Bipolar Exercise, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Altras, Bipolar, Bipolar Creativity, Clozaril, Clozaril Sucks, SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder

by the time you read this it’ll all be ok

I just don’t think I’m that interesting. I don’t think what I have to say is that interesting. To hear me go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I mean, who… cares? James Gandolfini (Thanks beeps and Jas for the 3 quotes 3 days nomination.) I wrote this post while my WiFi was down, so it’s…

Day Two: Three Quotes, Three Days Challenge

“Tough times don’t last…tough people do.”

I dedicate that one to all of us living with bipolar. While the mindless masses may view us as lesser or weak due to our impairments…We are tough. We are survivors.


And I failed to nominate anyone, thus breaking the challenge’s rules, but um…Yeah…I invite anyone who cares to do so to take this challenge.

Paralyzed Patient Uses Brain-Computer Interface to Walk


Let’s hope we see spine-injured people leaving their hospital beds, learning to walk in a new way…But maybe not exactly like this…


My baby brother Farooq, born on October 3rd, 1964.

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October 3rd, 1964, Farooq was born. I was 4 years old and I picked his name. I remember when he lay in his bassinet, a chubby, beautiful, rosy cheeked baby. I remember him as a toddler, a cherub, with pouty, red lips. My parents got divorced before he was a year old. We moved from Karachi to Islamabad to live with my aunt and uncle. My mother who was an obstetrician and gynecologist, found a job in Lahore, so within a year we moved again. My grandmother, aunt, and uncle came with us. My beautiful little brother was so young and was traumatized by all these moves and no longer having a father. But he rallied, my uncle played games like 20 questions and cricket with us. My aunt took care of us, and my grandmother loved us to bits. Then my mother met my stepfather to be, and she married him, and left my brother and me in Pakistan, with her older sister, for a year, while they moved to the States to find medical training, my stepfather wanted to train to be a heart surgeon, and he did. They found residencies in Buffalo NY, and called us there. My little brother and I came to Buffalo in June of 1972. We settled in, started school in September. My gorgeous, little, sensitive brother, trying to be brave, wanting to be loved. My mother had two more children in Buffalo, my new baby brother and sister. My brother Farooq was a loving older brother, always looked to be loved. He was sensitive, intelligent, with gorgeous, movie star looks. He had friends who loved him. So unfortunately, he had no relationship with my step father and he was always looking for a father figure. But that would have been fine, if only in his late teens he hadn’t developed bipolar disorder. From there on, his life unraveled. He go married, had two children, and never had the chance to fully accept the fact that he was ill. He refused to take his medication. I always wonder what would have happened if he had had a chance to only deal with his illness, in peace (if there can be such a thing), without the responsibility of a wife or family. There was so much upheaval, and tortuous drama in his life after he got married, how could that have been good for him? I wonder if he would have come to some understanding with himself about his illness and realized that he needed to take his medications. I am incredibly, incredibly grateful for my beautiful and most beloved niece and nephew.

This was his life. This incredibly beautiful, sensitive, kind, considerate, loving baby brother of mine. His loss is a tragedy, in the purest form of the word. He came into this world looking for love, as we all do, and he left this world much too soon, looking for love. The last thing he said to me was “I love you.” And I love him and miss him so, incredibly much, everyday.

The things we have to live through, if someone had told me this was going to happen to me, to us, I would not have believed it. I may have declined the penalty.

Irony! We landed at Washington National airport on June 20, 1972. And Farooq left us on June 21st, 1991. (Before his 26th birthday.) What if we hadn’t settled 20 minutes from Niagara Falls? What would he have walked into then? I wanted this post to be a celebration of his life, because it is his birthday today, he would have been 51 years old!!! Can’t even imagine that. But oh how wonderful that would have been. My mother spared the almost unbearable heartache of losing her son. We, all of us, specially his children, spared such a tragic loss. Yes I wanted this to be celebratory post, in celebration of his life. But I can’t. I don’t have it in me, his name, the thought of my poor little brother is laced with sadness and tears. That is how it is when you lose someone precious to suicide.