Health issues

Fighting health issues for over a week now. In addition to this incredibly persistent cold I’ve had this boil develop on my inner thigh. I attempted to keep it covered to prevent irritation but one day it just took off and swelled to the size of a newborns fist, complete with forearm, stretched across my inner thigh right where my pant seam rubs. It has been insanely painful and nearly debilitating. With my past experience of the swollen leg you’d think I’d be ready to jump up and get to the doctor’s office to have it looked at.

But I didn’t. I was, I admit, paralyzed with a combination of fear and indecision. I wasn’t certain it was bad enough to warrant a doctor visit, and I was terrified that it would mean another incarceration in the hospital. I barely survived the last one, financially, and I still have the utter lack of credit as a scar to remind me. I’m terrified I would lose everything with another prolonged hospital stay. Which is foolish, I know, because I’m no working for a company that can afford to provide me with short term disability, but the terror is still there.

Instead I looked up all sorts of home remedies (garlic and onion paste applied directly seems the most promising suggestion, but I don’t think I could do that and still go to work) and other online recommendations. Filters firmly in place I evaded all the touchy-feely new age junk and stuck with the logical.

Then I dug through my old drug bin and found the left over antibiotics the first tried to use to cure my leg. Far too weak to do anything for my right leg four years ago they are, it turns out, just perfect for dealing with this over-sized pimple. The swelling has all but disappeared and the pain is practically non-existent. I am much relieved. I know all my actions were foolish. I should have gone to the clinic and procured an official diagnosis, but the fear won out. I am lucky.

The cold, on the other hand, is proving tenacious as a used car salesman and it’s taxing my lungs. I barely cough at all today, but I know how quickly that can change. The other day my boss joked that I should either die or not, but get on with it. It does feel that way. When I’m coughing my lungs feel weak and challenged. I almost feel like I should be on a respirator.

But then I’m fine again, for hours at a time, and I can go for walks and do my dishes and my laundry with no trouble. And then I’m exhausted, lying in bed, coughing and struggling to breathe.

Not fun. But today has been pretty good, and I only need walk home. I think I’ll be okay. We’ll see how we’re feeling at work tomorrow.

But I came across an article I was afraid to read. From the summary it seems the loneliness can have a seriously adverse affect on a person’s health. I’m afraid to acknowledge how pertinent that is for me.

I’ve been facing a lot of fear lately. Living alone and feeling so sick I’m entertaining far too many visions of my body not being found until somebody finally asks “when was the last time any of us saw Joel?”

I coughed once, in the shower, so hard that it felt like my throat had turned inside out. My airway was blocked by itself and I could neither breathe in or out. I panicked and stumbled to my bedroom, naked and dripping, not knowing what I was going to only that I didn’t want to drown face down in a quarter inch of water in the tub. It was irrational, but I couldn’t breathe. My throat eventually opened up and I was able to breathe again, but the event left me shaken to this day.

I’m going to die alone and it’ll be days before someone figures out where I am.

On the vaguely plus side all this illness has dropped my appetite and I’ve been losing a little weight. Wee.

I wish I were sleeping

I battled my snooze button this morning. I must have punched his clock three or four times but the bastard kept coming back before the count of ten was complete. Always on nine. The prick always gets back up on nine.

I can’t honestly say whether or not I’ve been sleeping well. It’s very hard to tell. I go to bed, I fall asleep, and at about three or so in the morning I wake up and spend the remaining two or so hours tossing and turning, dozing in and out of sleep. When the alarm hits the last thing I want to do is get up.

Over the weekend I think I slept for eight to ten hours Friday and Saturday night. I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It’s not so much that the bed was warm or comfortable, I just didn’t want to have to deal with the real world.

I’d set down a goal to do some writing every day less than a week ago and it only took two days for me to fall off the wagon. Even tonight, as I write this, I’m resisting the urge to just turn y computer off and head to bed. Sleeping is gradually becoming much more preferable to being awake.

Oddly enough I haven’t been this physically healthy in a long, long time. My new job has me moving constantly for two four hour sessions five days a week. I can feel my muscles toning and my overall energy is increasing. The two hours after lunch are now my most energetic, which is a complete switch from the rest of my life where the two hours after lunch were the times I had the most trouble staying awake.

The job is, for the most part, a good place to be. Certainly better than some of the jobs I’ve held in the distant past. I get to work indoors and the heavy lifting is maxed out at fifty pounds. The pace can be fast but, so far, never overwhelming. The people I work with have been doing this for a great many years and know the flow of the work almost instinctively. When things are at a normal pace I’m pretty much left alone to do my job, which I’ve always preferred. When the pace picks up and things get busy I suddenly find I’ve got help. Today it got busy enough that there were four of us working in concert to get shipments together and out the door. Then, when the rush ended, they all went back to their own duties and I was left to my own devices.

Aside from some minor personality challenges, something that might naturally work itself out over time, I’d have to say this is one of the better jobs I’ve held.

Which is why it’s so hard to admit to not being happy.

I have happy moments, even moments of contentment, but I’m still struggling with an overall feeling of just not wanting to be in the real world. I don’t know if this is actual depression or just some overall ennui. I’m not morose all the time, but there are definitely dark hours. I’m not unable to get out of bed, yet, but there are some mornings where it’s definitely a struggle.

I have to make an appointment with the Wound Clinic to measure my legs again. They were measured a few months ago to make custom compression stockings for me since the off-the-shelf versions aren’t quite long enough. Unfortunately when the custom stockings finally arrived after six weeks I tried them on only to find they were shorter than my existing stockings. They are so short, in fact, that I suspect my measurements were done in inches and the stockings were built in centimeters.

I was juggling two jobs and switching over to a third when this all played out so I hadn’t ever gotten around to replacing them. I did report the poor fit when the pharmasist called me up to find out how they were doing, but other than that the custom stockings have just been sitting in a drawer.

A few weeks ago I phoned the pharmasist back and requested she order me another set of off-the-shelf stockings. My current set are starting to show signs of wear and since they’re my only set I wanted to get them replaced before it was too late. The pharmacist assured me she’d call me when the stockings were in.

Weeks later I get a call from one of the nurses at the Wound Clinic. Being at work I let it go to voice mail. She called three times and, when she finally managed to leave a message, complained that my phone didn’t allow her to leave a message the first two times she called. Which is the first time I’ve ever had anyone have issues, but whatever. She then informed me in my message that I would need to make an appointment to have measurements done again. Apparently they’re not going to let me just get standard stockings again, I must get the custom ones. Which is irritating because that will take another six to eight weeks.

Whatever. I call the number she left me to make my appointment. The secretary looks up my file and calmly informs me that my case had been signed off and that I would need a new referral from my doctor to get another appointment.

I’m sensing a huge bureaucratic load of shit in my future and I’m really not looking forward to dealing with it. I need new stockings. The current ones, while not a perfect fit, do the job. The custom ones fit so poorly they won’t even stay up on their own. I don’t have the time to wait for another set of custom stockings to come in, especially if whatever communication fuckup that happened before happens again and I get stump sized stockings. I need replacement stockings and I need them now.

I will try calling them all back tomorrow at lunch and see what can be done. I’m already anticipating a lot of “you’ll have to talk to the other person to get that approved” followed by “we don’t have the authority to approve that”.

Or perhaps I’m just being overly negative.

What’s your morning like?

Nobody has ever asked me this question, but I’ll answer it anyway. After all, I need something to write about.

My typical morning starts with me deciding how long I can remain in bed and not stress myself out. I know I have my alarm set to a time that will allow me plenty of room for preparing my morning. If I feel particularly calm I can push the snooze five or six times and still leave for work on time, everytime. If, however, I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I’ll get up after one snooze hit, or maybe immediately. If I’m stressed I’ll make mistakes and I know it’ll take me longer to get my shit together. Plus I’ll need the extra time to brace myself.

Brace myself against what, you ask? Monotony. Tedium. Responsibility. Effort. All those lovely things we face every single day as an adult.

Do what you love as your job and your job won’t feel like work. That’s fabulous if what you love to do is something you can make a living at. But very few people can make a living as a video game player, a movie watcher, or even as a writer. Oh, yes, there are some people who do make a living at those things. Professional gamers exist, believe it or not. There are, of course, many movie critics, and some of them even get paid for their work. And, as always, there are millions of writers. The one thing all of these particular interests have in common? Unless you’re at the very top you’re never going to make enough money to live off of.

In other words, while it’s all wonderful and fine to do what you love for work, unless what you do is inherently profitable you’re going to have to do the same thing the rest of us do: get a day job to support what you actually like doing.

So, the Real World mantra is actually: get a day job you can endure and pursue your interests when you can.

Of course the Big Problem with that is that most day jobs take enough out of you that additional pursuits are pretty much a pipe dream. Right now I get home with just enough energy to put together a bowl of cereal and set myself up on the couch for the rest of the evening hoping my feet will stop hurting enough to let me endure the next day.

So mornings are a challenge. Motivation has to be constructed, a little like a jenga tower, one piece at a time until I finally have enough to swing my legs over the edge and haul my ass up.

These days I have a few extra morning duties to prepare for. First thing I do upon sitting up is grab my compression stockings, gloves, and slip-on tube. The tube helps me drag the tight compression rubber over and around my heel. Without it I’d be fighting against the fifty pounds of compression just to get the damned thing on. I can do it, but trust me it’s not easy.

I get the compression stocking onto my right leg first thing. If I don’t my leg begins to swell within minutes and the scar tissue begins to ache with the pain of being stretched. Scar tissue doesn’t stretch well. I hate the ache in my leg enough to wrestle with a compression stocking before even going to the bathroom. If the leg swells enough it can take hours for it to compress back down, aching all the while. So… yeah, compression stocking first.

I have new appreciation for people with third degree burns. Their scar tissue doesn’t stretch at all and they can experience excrutiating pain just from breathing. Read the book “Gargoyle” for a vivid and disturbing look at that particular torture. The character in the book spends much of his physiotherapy time planning an elaborate suicide guaranteed to kill him fifteen times over. After a chapter or two you begin to hope he succeeds.

With the compression stocking on my right leg (the left one is much less vital as the leg hardly swells at all and doesn’t hurt even if it does) I go into the kitchen to start the kettle. As it brings the water to a boil I take care of the usual bodily demands, along with shaving. I have to shave with an electric razor while my neck is dry or I’m guaranteed to get ingrown hairs that itch like crazy. So, shave before shower.

Once the water has boiled I set up the tea pot with three (count them, three) tea bags of Tetley Extra Bold. So far it’s the only affordable tea I’ve found that comes close to the British tea I loved so much on my trip there nearly twenty years ago. I fill the pot to the brim with boiling hot water, place the top back onto the teapot, and cover the whole thing with a small towel.

From there I head to the shower. I make sure the water is the right temperature before taking the compression stocking off. I do my best to minimize the amount of time I have the thing off my leg and I still love my showers. Having my leg bandaged up such that I couldn’t take a shower for more than six weeks has made me appreciate them even more. So, down the last second, I strip the stocking off, lay it out on the counter where it won’t get wet (if it gets wet I can’t wear it until it’s dry again) and into the shower for a quick but thorough wash. On the days I switch to the other set of compression stockings I’ll wear the stocking into the shower itself. It’s going to get hand washed anyway and I have a dry one waiting. On those mornings I get to take a long, luxuriant shower.

From the shower I dry myself off and head straight for the bedroom with my right leg stocking. I take some time to sit on the edge of my bed and examine my feet. I take very careful care of my feet these days as any cracks or blisters can lead to another infection. I grind down calouses, trim the nails short, and moisturize every night. The irony is that if I’d done thise from the begining I might not have had my subsequent infections. Take care of your feet. It’s amazing the amount of trouble neglecting them can cause.

I then use my gloves and slide to put both compression stockings on my legs. Fifty pounds of compression on the right leg, thirty on the left. Again, this takes some particular attention. If I get the stockings on incorrectly they can wind up restricting blood flow, constricting toes, or simply chafing at the wrong point and causing blisters. It’s difficult to adjust them once they’re on so I do my best to get it right the first time.

From there the morning gets simpler. Finish dressing. Get food.

If it’s a good week I’ve prepared my lunches in advance, giving me a good extra ten minutes each morning. I pack my lunch into my backpack, get my breakfast ready with a massive glass of orange juice (can’t start the day right without it) and possibly a cup of coffee. Not always, but any morning I wake up tired I figure I need it.

With all that done I finally pour my tea. I fill one very sturdy and seal-able thermal cup and one rather dented thermos I bought at Ikea more years ago than I can remember. Best ten bucks I ever spent.

The tea has been steeping for at least an hour, with three tea bags. It’s as close to British tea I’ve been able to get without making it bitter. I still need to find a better brand that will produce the right flavor without as many tea bags or as much steeping. Tetley does the job for now though.

At this point I sit down to breakfast and my morning officially begins. I either read a book or surf the web. Delete a bunch of e-mails, catch up on those few friends struggling with sleep, and get in a chapter or two of reading. I like to have at least half an hour for breakfast. It gives me a reason to get up. I try to avoid looking at the time too often as that can start to stress me out. I’ve become pretty good at guessing the time anyway so by the time I go looking for it I usually find I have five minutes left.

Then it’s a matter of brushing the teeth, dressing for the weather, and getting my music ready for the walk. My music is my last reward for getting up on time. I can lose myself in music for my twenty five minute walk before having to actually face work.

From the moment I arrive at work it’s a twisted variation on the Buddhist statement of “We are dying from the moment we are born”. My version is “I am leaving from the moment I arrive”. While I do my best to not watch the clock my daily goal is to leave. I know freedom will arrive at the same time every day, and I can’t change that. The only thing I can change is my perception of the time between arriving and leaving. Luckily for my employers I have found that the best way to make time pass quickly is to keep busy. Nothing makes the clock grind slower than having nothing to do.

Stumble home, put up aching feet, rub pained ankles, distract myself with entertainment of some sort, then sleep.

Sleep is the best and most reliable escape. There are few things better than sleep. I look forward to falling asleep more now that I have my CPAP machine to help. I even get dreams on occasion.

Then… morning, and rebuilding that jenga tower of motivation to keep moving.

Jangling at 2am

Wide awake in the middle of the night. Why? Best I can guess is drug withdrawal. I have been managing the pain of my leg’s infection with two drugs: Oxycodone and Gabapentin. Both have their share of side effects, and I’ve been dealing with those in spades over the past several weeks. Mostly it’s been anxiety and some heavy mood swings. But now that I’m only using one of them, I’m finding a whole new level of anxiety to deal with.

My leg isn’t in intense pain much anymore. It doesn’t often exhibit any specific, sharp pains and that’s what the oxycodone is best at dealing with. Think of a deep bruise or impact injury. Oxycodone does a great job of dulling the pain signals for that.

My leg is still in generalized, overall kind of pain, though. It’s currently wrapped up in compression bandages designed to literally squeeze the swelling out of my leg and forcing the body to dispose of the excess fluid through the usual means. This not only helps shrink the leg back down to nearly normal size but also promotes healing of the skin in general. Trust me, it’s been working wonders for the past few weeks. Unfortunately it also causes an overall, generalized kind of pain around the surface of my leg. The skin is being forced together and the surface gets an overall “ants crawling with sharp feet” kind of pain. That’s what the Gabapentin handles. As the doctor described it, it takes care of the “jangling nerves” kind of pain. It achieves this by being a neural inhibitor. That’s right, the drug actually interferes with signals in my brain. My brain is having it’s neural pathways inhibited.

Like I needed it to be worse.

Here’s the truly awful part: I hardly ever need the Oxycodone anymore. I still need the Gabapentin. When my initial prescription for the Gaba ran out I decided to let it go and see if I still needed it. The result was my becoming an edgy, suffering mess who very nearly ruined Dianne’s birthday party. The sensation was quite intolerable and I had to go back on it right away.

At that time I still had the Oxycodone in supply so it was handling some of the pain signals that the missing Gaba wasn’t. Now, I’m greatly reducing the Oxy because of the lack of specific pain, but I missed one dose of the Gaba in the middle of the day last week and suffered greatly for it. So I still need it. For now, anyway.

Unfortunately now I think I’m going through a bit of withdrawal of the Oxy and tonight my personal nerves, my mental nerves, are on edge and I cannot sleep. It does not help that Gaba has the side effect of making me seriously doubtful of pretty much everything going on in my life. The drug itself has been linked to increased suicide rates and I can easily see why. Dianne was on the phone with me for a good half hour or more talking me down from a massive anxiety attack on Sunday. I very nearly didn’t go to the gaming group at Dicken’s pub. I forced myself out, though, because staying in would have been letting the drugs win.

My suspicion is that the Oxycodone was making me feel just enough euphoria to offset some of the doubt and depression being triggered by the Gabapentin. Now that I’m taking almost none of the Oxy the Gaba is suddenly hitting me just that much harder.

It is very tempting to take some more Oxy right now,  just to make me feel good enough to sleep. But I won’t. As my doctor put it: “People in pain who take pain medication don’t get addicted. It’s when the pain is gone that the trouble starts.” Not all of the pain is gone, but the kind of pain that the Oxy deals with is almost gone, and more importantly I’m not experiencing it right now. No pain, no pills. That’s the way it’s going to work. Period.

I only have one appointment tomorrow and I can spend the rest of the day catching up on sleep if I have to. I’m not letting the Gaba beat me tonight.

Just filling in space

I’m at a loss for words as to what to write right now. I can mention the movies I’ve seen recently, even talk about the books I’m reading, but is that what people want to read? Probably not. That’s not what I want to read. What I want to read are some self help articles that will simply and articulately lay out instructions for me to have a good and meaningful life. The few I stumble across on the internet are either so simplistic as to be able to be rendered down to a haiku:

Do no harm to others
Find out what you want to do
Go do that. And Cats.

Or they’re so insanely complex that you need a degree in sociology just to understand the instructions. (Of course I mean sociology. Sociologically based instructions / tests are the only ones you’re going to find shared online for free. Truly intelligent psychiatric tests cost. By the minute.)

Much better if I were to make my own list of instructions on how to have a good and fulfilling life. The only problem with doing that is people will then throw your own words back in your face when you’re having a bad day, and when you’re having a bad day the last thing you need is your own ray of sunshine blown back up your ass.

So if you’re going to provide some life lessons on your blog make sure they’re life lessons that you can listen to on a really bad day and not want to instantly punch the person parroting them back to you. (Oh look, I guess that’s lesson zero)

Lesson 1: Look, sometimes you just need that brownie, okay? Or that small plate of fish fingers. Or that plate of cactus cut fries. Yes, they’re full of fat and carbs. Yes, they’re going to cost you on your diet or just wind up on your thighs, but some shitty days just need that little sugar injected, fat fried lump of tongue joy. If you’re going to suffer a shitty day it might as well fucking taste good.

PS> There was some scientist who proved you can lose weight eating nothing but twinkies. He didn’t get many, and he only lost ten pounds, but he did it. Salads are good. Lean meat is good. But ultimately it comes down to calories in versus calories expended. Including twinkies. Just realize that that one twinkie is going to mean you’re going to have to give up that chicken breast and garden salad for today. Oh darn.

Lesson 2: Sometimes it just feels good to haul off and punch the fucker. Yes, his argument was full of holes you could have driven a bus through. Yes, everybody was already shaking their heads at how stupid he sounded. But some people simply need that neurological readjustment, and that can only be achieved by clocking someone’s reset button hard enough to force them into a hard reboot. Just make sure you either have a good alibi or witnesses who’ll stand by you and swear he swung first. Oh, and make sure your lawyer is better than his.

(No, of course I’m not ACTUALLY promoting violence. Violence never solved anything. Except, y’know, wars and stuff.)

Lesson 3: Finding out what you want to do with your life is going to involve you trying a whole lot of things. Nobody ever figured out what they wanted to do simply by thinking about it. Oh sure, there have been plenty of people who have thought “I’d love to be a dentist!” and have pursued that interest from day one. But not one of them actually found out whether they really wanted to be a dentist until they spent at least one day with their hands wrist deep in someone’s filthy, diseased mouth. If you’re in that mouth so deep you can feel colon and find yourself thinking “Man, I LOVE this!”, congratulations you really did want to be a dentist. Until then you’re just hoping it all works out.

Try stuff. Poke at things. Find out what makes them tick. Sniff it, step in it, and see how it feels.

This one is going to be thrown back in my face some day. I just know it.

Lesson 4: Half the time you’re feeling hungry for that snickers bar/butter tart/brownie/bag of chips what you’re actually feeling is either dehydration or boredom. This one needs to be thrown in my face a few times, and I know it. I just walked here past a Kentucky Fried Chicken place and actually had to talk myself out of going in. I don’t mean a mental struggle where the angel and demon fight it out in your imagination, but rather talking to myself OUT LOUD while people walked past me. Sometimes you have to back your arguments up with a little public humiliation to get them to sink in. Telling yourself, out loud, that “you’re not ACTUALLY hungry! You just finished dinner a little while ago, and you KNOW you’re going to feel ill after you finish that greasy mess”, while people stare at you or cross the street to get away from you, is sometimes the only way you can stop yourself from giving in to the wrong impulses.

That being said, I walked past there on my way to the coffee shop with the deliberate intent of having one single butter tart. And I’ve achieved that. See lesson one above.

Lesson 5: Listen to what your doctor has to say. If it makes sense to you, follow his instructions. If what he says isn’t making any sense to you then ASK QUESTIONS. Look, the doctor is human. He could be wrong. If he seems to be ignoring some symptoms that you think are important then DON’T LET HIM. Of all the people in the world who know things about your body NOBODY knows it better than you do. If something just AIN’T RIGHT then YOU have every right to let that be known to those who are paid to help you. If one won’t listen, talk to another, and another, and another. Don’t just accept what they say at face value and keep all those doubts to yourself. No, speak up, and ASK. Make sure you understand what they’re telling you and then ask “Okay, and after that?”

That being said…

When a doctor has provided you with a reasonable prognosis and has come up with a system of treatment… COMMIT to it. Make sure you do everything to the letter. If it doesn’t work, LET THEM KNOW. If it does work? LET THEM KNOW! Keep talking and pay attention.

And all that being said… I seriously have to wonder at what point you have to just hold up your hand and say “Just a minute. I’m taking 18 different medications every day. Is each and every single one of these truly necessary, or is there some overall lifestyle change I could be making to get rid of a few of these?”

This is all from my own personal experience and is heavily biased by that. Take what you like from it. I’m just throwing words down to fill in space at this point. I promise when I have something more meaningful to say I’ll let you know.

Mmmm… buttertart.

Becoming less of a Borg

My friend Tanya and I used to talk back and forth about how much we liked the concept of “going borg”, getting cybernetic implants to improve our bodies, give us physical advantages.

I went a little bit Borg last month as I had a PICC installed in my arm and a intravenous pump hung from my shoulder. The PICC is essentially a plastic tube inserted into my arm that extended deep into my body, all the way into my chest. It allowed the intravenous pump to inject the antibiotics deep into my system and allowed the doctors to pull blood samples without having to dig around under my skin with needles.

Apparently I have a physiology that is well suited to Not Bleeding. Any time any of the nurses tried to set up an IV or draw blood all of my veins would retreat into my body and hide. While this is good for avoiding damage in the regular world in the medical world it meant dozens of nurses would spend hours, literally hours, digging around with needles just under the top layer of skin trying to connect with an elusive vein. It was agony and would have qualified as torture if the people hurting me weren’t trying to hard to save my life.

In all honesty I was quite relieved to get the PICC installed. It meant no more needles of any kind. But once the intravenous antibiotics were no longer necessary and the blood samples no longer required the PICC was just a direct line to my chest and a serious risk of infection. I wanted it gone.

Well I got my wish last Wednesday when the clinic finally decided the infection was definitely gone and I didn’t even need the oral antibiotics anymore. So they set about removing the PICC.

Inserting the PICC was a surgical procedure that took about half an hour. It involved the surgeon using sonic imaging tools to guide the insertion through my arm, around the shoulder, and into my chest. It was nerve wracking.

Dianne and I were joking that taking the PICC out might be considerably simpler, perhaps just a quick yank. As the nurses set up their supplies Dianne jokingly suggested it might be akin to pulling the rip chord on a hot wheels racer. The nurses didn’t comment. Instead they busied themselves with making sure they had all the supplies necessary.

The one nurse then sat down beside me and asked for my arm. She carefully removed the bandage over the PICC line and spent several seconds cleaning the area around my PICC line, making sure it was as sterile as possible. All this while the nurses were debating between each other on how long the PICC line in my arm should be expected to be. They had no information on whether it was the full 53 centimeters or if it had been cut down.

The nurse then asked me to take a deep breath in, and then instructed me to let it out slowly. As I did so she pulled the PICC line out of my arm in one smooth motion, like that of someone pulling the rip cord on a hot wheels racer.

Many seconds later Dianne realized I hadn’t resumed breathing and quickly told me to breath in again.

Finally a plan

Went to my Wound Clinic appointment today and got some real answers and a definitive treatment plant. We will not be Debriding as I had both hoped and feared we would. At least not in the ways I’ve been thinking about. What we will be doing is applying pressure bandages to my leg to force the swelling down. It’ll force the fluid back up into my body and out the normal channels.

The intent with this is that the shrinking of the leg will natually compell the dead cells to fall off. This will allow for better healing. I’m hoping this cycle will lead to a … well, it’s too late to hope for a qick healing. They were very adamant in telling me this is still going to take a long time. But they gave me some good news as well:

Walking is crucial. I should either be walking or laying down with my leg up above my heart. I shouldn’t be sitting or standing.

This is good news to me because I’ve been trying to take it easy, to keep from tiring out. However I’ve had a strong compulsion lately to walk, get out an just walk. Now I have doctor’s orders to do just that.

The pressure bandages can only be changed by the Wound Clynic, unfortunately, so I have several appointments over the next week. On the plus side, I managed to drive home without assistance. The center console still pokes at my leg, but I can still drive short distances. I’m not going to be doing any road trips any time soon, but I’m no longer dependent on others to get groceries or whatever. Plus, as the leg gets squished down the center console will be less of a problem.

So all in all a progressive day.

Later I will be doing laundry, and maybe walking out for a short shopping trip to pick up some more club soda. I still need a lot more loonies to get my laundry done.

A page a day, day fifty-five: CCEE day one

Spent the first day at the Calgary Expo today. It was somewhat tiring for me, but exhausting for others. For my part I spent almost the entire day in the VIP room registering people as they arrived and handing out what few goodies we had to give. Others were spending the day walking and standing just about everywhere.

Which is a little scary considering how many miles I covered today with the most sitting position available.

The bosses ponied up for a Fit Bit for each of us staff members who were interested. They did it as gesture of good will and because so many of us have been commenting on how we’re struggling with our weight lately. Quick description: it’s a step counter that not only counts how many steps you’ve made in a day but also how many stairs you’ve climbed and how well you sleep. I haven’t tried the sleep test yet because I already know my sleep is terrible. Plus I’ve really only worn it for one day, that being today.

So, today… I arrived at the convention, checked in at the volunteer center, got some mis-direction about where to pick up my radio, got my radio, went to the VIP room, and pretty much stayed there until lunch. At lunch time I walked back to the volunteer room, grabbed my free sandwich and salad for lunch ( for which I am every so grateful. Last year was all pizza, and even Coco Brooks pizza is a bit too much three days in a row ) and walked back to the VIP room. I made some very short forays into the surrounding area to put up some signs and check in on some volunteers, but for the most part I just camped out in the VIP room for the rest of the day answering people’s questions and registering late arrivals.

So, with all that sitting I still managed to clock in just over 9,000 steps, which apparently translates into 4.2 miles.

So… if you’re going to attend the CCEE for ANY reason, I have one solid piece of advice for you: Wear comfortable shoes. If you don’t then you WILL regret it. Second most important piece of advice would be: bring a sizable water bottle with you. Hydrate. All the standing and walking is going to dry you out faster that you would believe and a bottle of water from concessions is $3.00. We are providing our VIP attendees water, but we are only giving them one bottle per day per person. Why? Because the organizers can’t afford to provide more. They are having to pay the Stampede group for the water and they are forced to pay whatever the Stampede feels like charging. Hint: it’s a fuck of a lot of money.

My third piece of advice would be to bring your camera with you. There’s just so much to see and take pictures of you’ll seriously regret it if you don’t.

Tomorrow is going to be the “Main Day” for most people and I expect it will be hellishly busy. I already stocked myself up pretty good for today but I think I’m going to grab another water bottle or two. You honestly can’t have too much.

And I think I’m going to try to actually get out and see some of it tomorrow. I didn’t actually look at much more than what was going on in the outer concourse.

The depressing and slightly self-pity based reason is I just don’t have any money and can’t afford … anything. I’ve already seen dozens of shirts I’d love to buy and I know if I even stop at a single comic vendor I’m going to be overwhelmed.

But I’m doing the work so I might as well take what little advantage I can. The panels are free and there’s a good chance I could take an hour, maybe even two, to take one in. I’ll have to check the program guide.

So far all the reviews have been very favorable. We’ve had our own hurdles and snafu’s, but the organizers have solved so very many more. I’ve had numerous people make comments about how quickly lines move and how well organized they are. I haven’t been directly involved in any of that but I trust their observations. Especially when so many of them have been expecting horrendous waits.

Okay, I just have to share this one tidbit about my web site. I use WordPress with the Akismet plugin set up to filter out spam comments. Even with that in place I have my comments locked down so that they require my approval before they’re ever seen. I hardly ever have to do anything, though, because Akismet is incredibly efficient at grabbing spam. Plus almost nobody ever actually comments on my posts so 99.99999% of the comments being posted are just spam.

Once in a while, when I log in to check on things, I’ll quickly scan the list of spam comments to see if any of them are actual comments being mistaken for spam. Today I spotted one that ALMOST looked real. It was a simple line of “Hey, moderator, why do so many of these comments look like spam?”

Very meta for a spam bot. The comment was linked to the one constant spam source hitting my site, some other web site selling knockoff designer shoes. This one was no different, except for the slightly tongue-in-cheek comment about all the other posts looking like spam. Luckily for me Akismet caught it anyway. Flush, gone.

Finally dreaming again

I had a dream last night, which I’m much relieved about. I’ve been fighting a severe cold for the past few weeks and one of the biggest detriments to being unable to breathe is being unable to sleep properly, and thus not dreaming. Since I’ve gotten used to my cpap machine I’ve rather enjoyed the resurgence of dreaming and have taken to gauging my ongoing mental state by them.

Work stress dreams always revolve around returning to my old job at the University and not knowing what to do. I suspect my mind picks that job as a minor defensive move because I always end up reminding myself that, regardless of the complexity of the task there had always been a manual to follow. This allows me to calm myself down and regain control of the dream.

Life stress often results in dreams about having to share living space or struggling with having to navigate through either very convoluted parking lots, cityscapes, or just buildings in general. The shared living space always involves rooms with gaping walls and showers with no privacy whatsoever. Open bathrooms that only afford limited privacy with opaque shower curtains figure prominently. Obviously my personal  and being able to figure out where Ian and what i.e. doing are huge buttons for me.

Last night’s dream was a new take on desires for personal freedom. In my dream the snow had melted just enough that I thought I could navigate the roads with minimal risk. I had very definite plans to hit the road on my motorbike to ride someplace hot and dry.

Apparently my dreams of freedom are becoming literal.

The only difference being, with the real world, you ultimately have to come back. In my dream I had no such intention. It was a very solid feeling of “point south and go”.

I guess that’s what makes it a dream.

Time is relative, schedules are not

I was a mental zombie yesterday. The number of things I’ve come to work to discover I’d left undone before leaving yesterday is, quite frankly, embarrassing. Evidence suggests that I’m not sleeping as well as I should.

First, after dinner last night I reclined for what I thought would be a ten minute nap. I woke up over an hour later. Then I somehow managed to change the time on my alarm so that it either already went through the time change or I screwed it up by an hour or more. Either way it was a good thing I had it set to get me up in time for the gym because it barely got me up in time for work. Tonight I’m going to have to look at it in more detail and figure out what the hell went wrong.

On the plus side this means when I thought I was going to bed at midnight last night actually had me going to bed at sometime around 11pm. Combined with the hour plus nap I think I actually woke up relatively rested this morning.

On the double plus side my rushing to work had me zipping through McDonalds for breakfast and buying myself an extra large coffee… so right now I’m flying via high vibrational frequencies.

On the double ungood side I have missed, and am missing, my workout this morning.

Inspired by a new acquaintance who’s been keeping to her workout schedule for the past few years I finally got inspired enough to invest in a gym membership again and have been managing three to four workouts a week by getting up an hour earlier. I’ve been doing this for three weeks now and hope to maintain it as a habit. I do feel much better on the days I work out, and I’m encouraged by how how out of shape I’m NOT. Apparently the workouts I used to do five to six times a week have had enough of a lasting effect that I can still manage a pretty good workout now after years of sloth.

I’m not saying I’m fit, far from it, but I remember how rough it was years and years ago when I first started going to the gym. My first attempt at the elliptical trainer had me giving up after less than five minutes at level two. I remember I couldn’t catch my breath and my heart was pounding so hard I thought my head was going to explode. After years of going to the gym I worked myself up to twenty minutes (the maximum allowed by gym sharing rules) at something like level 17 or 18.

Now… I don’t know quite what level I’m at yet but when I first got onto the elliptical trainer I decided to let it determine the level by choosing the heart rate workout. The machine determined my target heart rate based on my weight and age, and set the resistance accordingly. I reached my target heart rate after about two minutes and kept going for the full twenty. The machine cautioned me to slow down several times as my heart rate was exceeding the target by more then ten bpm. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it proved to me that I could exert myself at length, with my heart beating hard, and keep it up for at least twenty minutes. Odds are good I could go longer but there’s always someone else waiting to use the machine.

So I’m encouraged by how far my health hasn’t slipped over the years and that alone keeps me going back.

I’m also trying to be somewhat cautious and not pushing myself too hard. My body joints have been complaining of the weight lifting. My elbows in particular, for some bizarre reason. Because of this I’ve scaled back on my weights a bit and am focusing on reps instead of mass. I’m going to be focused on cardio for the most part anyway.

The biggest struggle for working out in the morning hasn’t been getting up,it’s been getting my breakfast and lunch ready before I leave the condo. Or, more accurately, getting everything together in time for me to get to they gym before it opens so I can have at least some chance of getting on the elliptical trainer. So far I’ve learned if I don’t get there before they unlock the doors I have zero chance of using the elliptical. Competition is fierce.

Luckily there’s always a treadmill available as an alternate and, also luckily, their treadmills are rated for my weight class. So many cardio machines can’t handle anyone heavier than 250 pounds.

We won’t talk about just how far over that 250 mark I am at the moment. Let’s just say it’s good that there are machines that can handle me at all.