Friday, July 30, 2010

"Enjoy Your Book. Folks Will Be in to Abuse You in a Minute"

I finished my book, actually. That's how long I was at Baptist today. You can read about all the medical stuff here.

But I'd like to elaborate on what it was like for me, queen of hospitals and normal test results, to be in a hospital scared. And I must say this is an accomplishment, as I have been in many a hospital and had more CTs, bloodwork, and X-rays than I can count, and they've all come back normal. So when I was told my bloodwork was abnormal and I'd need more testing on my lungs, I was worried.

Now, Tuesday night is when this started. I had normal blood Tuesday. Later that night, I had the chest pains, and what I am now certain was two minor instances when I stopped breathing. I am sure of this now because while at the hospital my oxygen level got down to 82 and set off that alarm a few times, and my breathing rate looked like a flatline a few times. It set off the alarm, too, because it got down to 5. Frightening stuff.

I talked to my Dad and Laura on the phone several times, and it is not lost on me that these are the only relatives concerned with my health. OK, yes, I know some other relatives pray for me. But praying for me isn't all you can do. It is if you're bedridden and mute or something, but we do have phones and e-mail and social networking and there are umpteen ways to say, "How are you feeling?" "how r u feeling" "Wendy feels good today." "(name here) likes this." But please don't ask "how r u feeling" - it just annoys me. I'm worth the time it takes to spell out 3-letter words.

Laura asked if anyone was with me. I told her no, and she seemed concerned that I was there all by myself waiting to find out if I had some kind of pulmonary embolism, which I didn't because, you know, here I am blogging instead of being in the morgue. Never did hear back from my mom. I texted her because I didn't know how long I'd be at Baptist, and I didn't want to use all of my cell phone battery because I no longer have a wall charger. But I'm not that surprised by this. I usually don't even bother telling family about health issues anymore, except my dad because he asks. But today was scary. I'm OK, but it was scary. And I could still have the beginnings of a blood clotting issue because my D-Dimers were high, and that means clotting issues. But it isn't in my lungs. I guess we'll figure it out someday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Billie Jean Is Not My Doctor

I posted this on my other blog, but it's worth repeating.

I had more injections today. First off, the woman who did my IV gave me a shot to numb my arm first. HA! I was all, "That really isn't necessary." Naturally, it didn't numb my arm, but I'm so used to needles at this point that I'm not phased regardless.

I woke up from the procedure AWAKE - I was wide the hell awake. After I told the nurse that all three of her had nice skin, I then said, "I'm way too cognizant." Also, I didn't slur the word "cognizant" - weird. I asked the doctor about it later, and he said they gave me some fentanyl, but the also gave me propofol, or as he called it, "the Michael Jackson drug." Apparently, this drug is sometimes called "milk of amnesia," which is funny because I usually forget the first hour or so after waking up, but not this.

The last two times I woke up after the procedure without my usual pain until about 6-8 hours later. Not this time. This time I felt it immediately. This freaks me out. They gave me more fentanyl in my IV before I left the hospital, but it didn't work. It's about 100 times stronger than morphine, so this is disturbing. I told them not to bother with morphine because it doesn't work.

So what happens now? The doctor wants to see me again in three weeks. If this doesn't work, they can try different injections or platelet enriched plasma. Oh good. I can't wait to be tortured some more. Oh, and my pain meds are WEAKER than last time. WTF, doctor?! I already have to chew them to get them to work fast enough, and, you know, that's disgusting, but when I'm at work and the pain gets worse, I don't have an hour or so to kill to wait for stuff to kick in, and I sure as hell can't go sit down. EVER.

Side note: I talked to my dad afterward. Laura's daughter is an NP, and she and Laura had been talking and said that at some point they won't be able to put me under anymore. Dr. Wasudev said they used the different drug this time because last time they had to keep giving me so much that if they used it again I could stop breathing, and they don't intubate for this procedure. But I've dealt with this so long that if surgery would actually help me, I'd let them do it even if they couldn't put me under. Which I know is really messed up but I just want this to be over already.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm Supposed to Be Getting Married Today

OK, well maybe not TODAY. But many years ago I decided I would get married on July 17, and I'd like to get married on a Saturday, so this is my last shot until 2021. I have 22 hours to get married, and I'm working a double today, so let's just call this dream one of those things that isn't going to happen and move forward.

Today, I start a new chapter in my life. It has something to do with moving on, on from all the pain, the past, everything I've been holding on to for so long because I was afraid to lose it. And everyone I've kept in my heart because I had nowhere else to put them.

I was remembering this moment a few years ago when I saw someone very special to me. I've had my moments in life, some good, some bad, but there isn't anything else I'd classify as a perfect moment except for this one. And if I could have chosen how I could have spent the last day or two with someone I love, I think it would have played out exactly as it did.

But things change, people change. We change our attitudes, our minds, our clothes, our beliefs. We change cities - sometimes countries and continents - and we change our hair. But, somewhere under all of that change, I like to think there are two people who, for just one moment in 2007, were perfectly happy.

I don't have moments like that anymore. I wish I did. The best I feel right now is when I meditate. It's the only time I don't feel anything, and for me, feeling nothing is as close to perfect as I'm going to get. So now, before I try to sleep before working a 14-hour day later, I will close my eyes, entwine my legs, and just simply exist, if only for a little while.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stealing My Identity Isn't Just Illegal, It's Also Really Stupid

Today, while I was eating lunch between jobs, the mail came. Now this in itself is no shock, as the mail comes daily (except Sundays). I got the usual stack of bills. I opened one, unfolded it, and immediately marveled at the amount. "645 dollars?!" Then I read the top of the page, which informed me that my payday loan was past due.

Uh, what payday loan? I don't take out loans, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't take out a payday loan. I called the collection agency, and boy did I find out all kinds of neat stuff! First, the woman verified the last four of my social and my birthday. OK, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to get that information, right? Surely more is required for a loan of some kind. Turns out, more IS required, but this information apparently doesn't have to be even remotely related to the name and birthday.

Whoever took out this loan listed an employer and work address (Wal-Mart manager in Louisiana, by the way), home and cell phone numbers (both with a New Orleans area code), two references (yes, I now have their names and numbers), and, of course, the account number and routing number of where to send the money. And, you guessed it, I now have that information as well.

At this point, I'm furious, and also a bit perplexed as to how anyone using my social security number could possibly get a loan, even a payday loan. The woman at the collection agency was very helpful. She told me to contact the police, file a report, and then they would go from there. She also told me the loan was taken out on January 19, 2010. It went to collection on April 26, so it just barely missed being on the credit report I pulled for the bankruptcy. Which is another reason this was obviously not me - all of my debt is being taken care of in the bankruptcy. Also, I have never worked for Wal-Mart, and I've never lived in Louisiana. Hell, I've only been once, 10 years ago, because that's where we sailed from on the cruise.

I called the police, and after some phone tag, finally got through to make the report. I still have to call the New Orleans PD, because that is presumably where the crime was committed. But this isn't just a crime - it's an act of extreme stupidity. First off, I have absolutely horrific credit. My credit score is a sad face. Second, I'm going to catch you. I am well versed in my debt. If this had been a medical bill, then, yes, it's conceivable that one or two of those fell through the cracks, and I forgot about them. But this - an online payday loan in January (when my computer didn't even get Internet-ready again until April) - this is...wait for it...INCONCEIVABLE!

I looked up the customer service number for the Web site, and calling that woman was a complete waste of time. I told her that someone had fraudulently used my information to take out a loan, and I suppose I should have assumed that using words with more than two syllables would not go over well. She asked for my information, and then proceeded to say a lot of really stupid things.

"The address we have for you is the one you just gave me." OK, I know you're lying at this point, or, at least, I know you didn't have this address for me when the loan was taken out. First off, the collection agency mentioned nothing about an address being given, other than the Louisiana work address. They have my address because it's their job to track me down, and with a bankruptcy, it isn't that hard to do. But let's forget the obvious and get to my answer.

"I didn't live there in January." BOO-YAH! There is no way this person used my current address to take out a loan in January because I did not live at my current address in January. Ha! How do you like them apples?

I explained to the woman that I live in Tennessee, but the information used to get the loan (other than my social and birthday) was from a Louisiana area code, and, clearly, this was not me.

"We aren't authorized to give loans in Tennessee. It would have been denied."

OK, what part of "It wasn't me" is so hard to grasp? THE MONEY DIDN'T COME TO TENNESSEE! And, as you have already stated you cannot give loans in Tennessee, there is no possible way, according to you, that you could have had my address because then you would have known I was in Tennessee and would have denied me like a good little worker, right? RIGHT?!

"But it's weird that they would use all of your information."

IT'S NOT WEIRD AT ALL! IT'S FRAUD! That's the modus operandi of frauds! Jesus, lady, you work for a company that gives online payday loans. You can't possibly expect me to believe that this hasn't happened before.

I told her I had contacted the police and they would be in touch about it. Then I hung up because I don't possess the ability to jump through the phone and smack someone in the back of the head. But if I did have that ability, that is exactly what I would have done.

So now I wait. The Nashville police will turn it over to a detective, who will be in contact with New Orleans. I gave them the account number and routing numbers, as well as the phone numbers, so finding the person(s) should be fairly simple. And proving it was fraud is beyond easy. I hope the Web site tightens their security a bit. If they'll take a social security number of someone in one state who claims to have an employer in another, it's time to beef up the security. I assume this didn't require a state-issued ID or pay stubs or anything you should have to present before getting any kind of loan. And apparently the name on the bank account doesn't have to be at all related to the name on the loan. Well, that's reassuring.

Watch out, New Orleans! I will have my vengeance upon you! OK, probably not all of you, but at least one of you is in trouble. And, even though I have what I hope is your real telephone number, I have no powers that translate through a telephone, so I'll just let the cops handle this one. Oh, and I Googled the home number. It is definitely a landline in New Orleans, and I even got a nice picture of the residence, including the name of the street and the block. Those apples are even better now, aren't they?

Stealing My Identity Isn't Just Illegal, It's a

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time for Me

Saturday I gave up clothes - we had a yard sale, and it definitely feels good having a little less stuff. Starting Sunday, I'm giving up half an hour each day to myself. I'm going to start each day with 15 minutes of meditation and end each day the same way. I know 30 minutes isn't much, but I need to start small. I'm horrible about taking time for myself, but I hope to gradually increase the amount of time I spend on me each day. I'm going to eventually incorporate yoga into it as well. I did inversions twice today, and even though I'm hurting, I know it was good for me.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Last Mango in Paris...A Reward for Your Bankruptcy

I'm making a decision, right here, right now, for all of the Internet to see: When I'm done with my bankruptcy, I will be taking my "Last Mango in Paris" trip finally!

Since hearing that song, I've wanted to live out as much of it as possible, and while I doubt I'm actually going to have a third-world girl in Buzios, I'm definitely going there.

I'll start out at Captain Tony's, of course, in the Florida Keys. My parents have been there, and have actually met Captain Tony. Next, I'll eat mango in Paris, head to Saigon via plane, and at some point, I'm going to be on a boat in China. Next is Buzios, Brazil (third-world girl optional), Wall Street (probably not going to have the high fashion model wife, though), then waking up dry beneath the African sky, just me and my Swiss Army knife.

I'm especially excited about Africa. I've wanted to go there for quite some time, and while I sometimes debate doing the Peace Corps thing, I know regardless I'd like to go to Africa. It fascinates me. It's time to follow la via dansante - the dancing life.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Today was full of drugs and pain so I'll make this quick: Tomorrow I'm giving up worrying. I will attempt, for the first time in my life, to go 24 hours without worrying. I'm not going to think about where I'm going to live, what I'm going to do with my life, how I'm going to pay this bill or that doctor. I'm just going to try to be centered, balanced, and enjoy the day.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Sometimes a Little Brain Damage Can Help"

And sometimes quoting George Carlin is the best way to start a blog. It's true - brain damage is good for you. At least, it was good for me today. I woke up at pain level 8. Oh joy. Then I went to brush my teeth and came back to find the most annoying child ever in my room - don't worry, it wasn't one who lives here. Then I got rear-ended on the way to work. That came with a bad headache, but fear not! The ER doctor said, "Your head CT looks beautiful." Yup, even my brain is a sexy beast!

In all the concussion, I had to miss work. I tried to work, but I got really dizzy and nauseated, and it was hard for me to stand. Plus I was seeing auras around things and had a brief bout of double vision. They told me to call someone to take me to the hospital. That's when I had my sexy head CT. Go brain!

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, which is surprising considering this is my fourth concussion. Seriously, how do I have higher brain function? Check out my last two concussions here and here.

I need to change some things in my life. I've been horribly dissatisfied for far too long, and I need to do something about it. I am going to do something for myself. I haven't done something for myself in a long time. The last vacation I had was in 2007, and I came home from the airport to furniture on the lawn because my dad was moving out. I think it would be good for me to get away from all of this for a while, just go somewhere, unwind, get away from the daily clusterfuck that is my life.

I need to dance again. I need to meditate more. I need to get rid of all the shit in my head that keeps me up at night. And I need to get rid of all of my shit. I have entirely too much stuff, and it all just takes up space and stresses me out. I don't need it, I don't have room for it, and I think I'd be a lot happier if I had less stuff. If nothing else, it'd be a hell of a lot easier to move.

I need to write more, and not just blogging, though I do need to do that more. I need to write the way I used to write every day. I have all of these thoughts in my head, and some of them are quite brilliant, and I need to devote time to that. I'm always happier when I write. It reminds me of my hopes and dreams, and sometimes it seems less hopeless and more dreamy when I'm writing.

I need to de-clutter my room, my life, my head - pretty much all of it. There's no time like the present, so I'm going to start giving things up every day. Some may be permanent, some temporary, but until I'm in a better place, I'm never going to be happier. The first thing I'm giving up is caffeine. For real. I've mostly given it up, but lately I've been having cherry Cokes at work, and I'll have Malibu & Coke when I go out. I love Coke. I love caffeine. But I don't need caffeine, and it isn't good for me. So, until further notice, I am 100% caffeine-free.

Now I'm going to read Eat, Pray, Love, because that movie looks good, and I imagine the book is even better.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, most of which has to do with my future. I've got to figure out what I'm going to do in August, how I'm going to get back to school if I ever can, and whether or not to pay $343 for 20 days of COBRA or just send those bills to the trustee.

I've asked for help in all of this, which is a big step for me because I generally prefer to fuck things up all by myself and then wonder why I'm in the same quagmire I was in before. But I haven't had much success there, and my dad is pretty much my only hope, although he's already doing more than his part by taking over my car payment.

I don't know why the rest of the family is distancing themselves so much. One of my aunts paid the retainer for my bankruptcy attorney. It's hard, though, that there isn't anything else people can or will do. I guess that whole "What would Jesus do?" thing doesn't apply here. I mean, Jesus would let me sleep on His couch. He'd probably build me a bed or something - carpenters are skillful like that.

I think they see me as a failure, and I suppose they would be right, on paper at least. I didn't graduate college (because I didn't have the money, and I won't go on that diatribe again but suffice it to say that I didn't grow up knowing I'd have to pay for my own college or I would have tried to come up with some sort of plan). I'm the only blue-collar worker in the family. I work. Everyone else goes to work. It's not that I don't think they work, too, but my work is physical. I don't have a desk. I don't even get to sit down. Ever. I'm on my feet for both jobs, I sweat a lot, I lift up to 70 pounds at a time - and I only weigh 110. Factor in the whole chronic musculoskeletal pain thing and one can see how my day is exponentially harder than most people's.

If I'm in pain at work, I take a pain pill. Why? Because I can't afford to miss work for being sick. I don't get paid to lie at home with ice packs and electrodes, so on the really bad days I bring those to work with me. One morning I came in and it was obvious I was sick. "You look like hell. Go home." I ended up in the hospital that night - shocking, I know - but I went to work that day anyway. And nobody seems to understand that every day is a struggle for me. I suppose if I were of the mindset that there's nothing medically wrong with me or that I "look OK" or "seem fine" I'd probably wonder what my deal was, too.

I look OK and seem fine because I don't externalize a lot of what I feel physically or emotionally if I can help it. I don't want people to see that. Nobody wants to see that. If they could see what I felt, people would be all weird around me I think. That's how it was in the wheelchair - no one treats you the same. Except, of course, my awesome friends, and my cousins who just thought it was fun to push me around in the wheelchair. But I digress.

I know I'm an adult. Believe me, I know that. I'm not able to support myself financially, and that's embarrassing. More embarrassing is having to ask your family for help. Even more embarrassing than that is when people say no. But I did support myself through college. I was fine until I got sick. Turns out, having a chronic condition pretty much sucks your bank account dry and puts a sizable dent in the ones of your friends.

All of this has got me thinking, and I'm OK with not being OK. I've accepted failure, which, aside from VOLCANOES, is my biggest fear. But nothing is scarier than volcanoes. They shoot out rock so hot it's liquid - count me the fuck out! And there are no volcanoes in East Tennessee, so if I have to go there - assuming I'm hopeless here and that it's an option - at least I won't have to outrun lava. I can avoid bill collectors, but lava would kick my ass.

I'm not independent. Not today, not anymore. I used to be, and it was nice. I'm not as dependent as when I was bed-ridden, but I can't really survive 100% on my own, either, and I accept that. Someday I will be able to, but not now. Now I need to focus on my health. I need to get better. I need to work less often if it's going to be on my feet. I need to continue getting enough sleep. I need to lay off the caffeine for real and do something about these thighs. Seriously, why didn't anyone tell me they looked like that? As soon as I get the green light for cardio, it is on.

I'm forcing myself to listen to happy music when I'm in the car. It's hard to be all pensive and introspective when there's a happy song on. I guess I'll try to keep that up. In the meantime, I'll just keep getting through each day until I can come up with a feasible long-term plan.