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.

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.

Too close… too far… juuuust right!

So… it’s been a weird progression over the last few years. First, I find out my eyes are getting worse and go to get a new prescription for my glasses. The optometrist tells me I have cataracts but can correct for them with lenses in the meantime. Then it progresses to even worse and I get my optometrist to schedule me for surgery. We don’t bother upgrading my prescription because, well, my eyes would just quickly get worse and the money would have been wasted.

Over the six months waiting for my surgery my eyes do get steadily worse. Pretty soon my prescription glasses don’t seem to make much difference at all. Then, at my eye measurement appointment, the doctor suggests I simply get some cheap drug store reading glasses. I take her suggestion and find reading glasses with a +2.0 rating allow me to read again. Joy! Sure the frames are kind of small and the arms dig into my head above my ears, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to read again.

Then, the surgery, and my left eye clears up like never before. I haven’t seen this clearly since I was in my twenties. It’s glorious. The doctor tests me the following morning and says, for distance vision, I have 20/20. For close up work, though, they’re completely unfocused. I definitely will need reading glasses.

Now, however, the cheap reading glasses I got from the drug store only let me read when the book / computer / text / whatever is fairly close to my face. Working on a computer at a table becomes awkward again. I have to drag the monitor close to my face for the text to become clear.

Today I went back to the drug store willing to pay another thirty to forty dollars to find the right quasi-prescription that lets me read at arms’ length.

My discovery? The more powerful the prescription, the closer the text needs to be. So, after trying a few on, I discover that a prescription of +1.25 is pretty good. They don’t go lower than that, though, so I hem and haw a bit. I don’t want to spend money if a slightly lower prescription would work better. I decide to leave it alone for a while and try again later.

Then, as I’m walking home, a thought occurs to me.

My original glasses were actually pretty weak. I seem to recall the optometrist saying they were barely a +1. I go home, I put them on, I sit at my computer.

Perfect. Well, maybe not 100% perfect, but definitely workable. I can now work on my computer with the screen at slightly more than arms’ length away. And the frames fit comfortably!

Win/win/win.

Terrifying clarity

The experience was nerve wracking and terrifying. While there wasn’t any actual pain there was a little discomfort and the glaring knowledge that someone was cutting into my eye.

I arrived very early. The doctor’s office called on Saturday to let me know my appointment had been rescheduled from 8:15 to 11:45. They had some patients who were diabetics and since we’d all have to forgo eating from midnight on they wanted to get those people in first.

While I appreciated the need it did kind of screw my plans up a bit. Tony was going to pick me up afterward but he had a voice gig scheduled for the afternoon and wouldn’t be able to make it that late in the day. That’s not what screwed me up, though. What screwed me up was the mental blank I went through when I called the cab company to schedule a pickup time. My brain stalled at “eleven” and didn’t fill in the “forty five” so when I added a little extra time to compensate for potential cabby incompetence I decided an hour would be safe. I scheduled the pickup for ten. The ride was maybe fifteen minutes. I was an hour and a half early.

Luckily for me the nurse checked with the doctor and they managed to get me in early anyway.

Which is good because the whole appointment took nearly two hours and the majority of that was waiting for the next series of eye drops to be administered. The actual surgery itself took all of ten minutes and I was out of there five to ten minutes afterward.

The first forty five minutes was spent sitting in a waiting room full of geriatrics swapping stories of their latest ailments, playing Sudoku on my iPod, wearing a generic blue disposable hair net (yes, even though I’m bald and, no, they didn’t require me to cover my beard… go figure) and a set of disposable booties covering the soles of my shoes. The booties were supposed to cover my whole shoe but they barely stretched far enough to reach over the edges. I guess old people have small feet.

Most everyone had someone with them to drive them home, but visitors weren’t allowed in the pre-sterile environment… at least no longer than it took to drop their father/uncle/mother/aunt off with the nurses.

Rumor had it there was a coffee shop available in the building next door. I’m guess that’s where most of the family chauffeurs waited out their time.

After three sets of four eye drops my left eye was starting to feel a little numb and I was taken into the quasi-sterile environment where they laid me down, attached a heartbeat monitor to one of my right fingers and a blood pressure cuff to my left arm and let the machines tell them how I was doing. After ten or so minutes of that the anesthetist put a drop in my eye that stung like salt water but only for the few seconds it took to take effect. Then she put two globs of gel onto my eyeball, spaced a couple of minutes apart. It felt funky… like when you’ve got pink eye but without the pain or itch. By the time they lead me into the now-we’re-actually-sterile surgery room I couldn’t much tell if my left eye was open or closed.

They laid me down on the operating table and attached a heart monitor to one of my left fingers and the blood pressure cuff on my right arm. At the time I had no idea why they needed to do this twice, or why they switched sides for it. Perhaps they were looking to average out the readings, I theorized. In any case the right blood pressure cuff had issues with the size of my arm. The Velcro kept releasing as it pumped up. They eventually got it properly secured and were then able to begin surgery.

I was awake for the whole thing and trying very hard not to panic. I kept reminding myself that if I moved I could screw up the whole thing. They had an intensely bright light for me to focus on but given the way they moved my eye around I think they told me to focus on it primarily as a way of giving me something to do.

They covered my entire face with a sterile cloth that had an aperture in it for the eye. They attached some kind of spreader between my eyelids to keep them apart and, I suspect, to also immobilize my eyeball. I’m not one hundred percent sure but it did seem that my eye stayed remarkably still despite my inclination to roll it around in a frenzy.

The whole thing had an x-files-alien-abduction-to-the-probe-ship feel to it. I could catch a glimpse of various instruments being used on my eye, a flash of light off of something metallic, a vaguely circular disk like object, a flash of blurred hands or fingers. The actual incision was entirely painless but it did not help that the cutting instrument had a dentist drill sound to it. I knew it was the cutting instrument because each time it wined there was the slightest pressure and my vision became briefly clouded with red before being washed away.

Part way through it all the blood pressure cuff was auto-inflated again. I wondered about that briefly but then reasoned that they were probably keeping periodic tabs on my vitals throughout the procedure. Then it occurred to me to wonder if the heart monitor was giving away my level of panic. I could just barely hear it beeping in the background. I tried to figure out if it sounded fast or not but I hadn’t thought to note what it had sounded like before, when I was… well, not calm, but less panicked.

Just as I was starting to wonder how long I would be able to keep my composure, it was done. Devices were removed from my eye and the sterile face cover, which had a self adhesive ring around they eye, was pulled off quickly like a band-aid. In truth that was the closest to pain I got through the entire procedure. The plaster cast of my face we did over a decade ago had been far more painful, I can assure you.

I was led out to yet another sitting room, told to take off my hat and booties, and given about an ounce of orange juice and a couple of cookies.

The clarity was staggering. I just kept looking around the room at everything. The bright colors, the crisp edges… it was all so fascinating. The best analogy I can give is switching from a poorly tuned VHF TV to a brand new High Def. At least… for things three or more feet away. Anything closer than that simply becomes a blur. A bright, colorful blur, but still a blur. The reading glasses I got from the drug store still help with that, but I know I’ll need significant reading glasses once all this is over.

The doctor stopped by to check on me before I left and asked me to tell him how many fingers he was holding up. I told him and he nodded, “Well, that’s about the best you can expect from today.”

“Are you kidding?” I said, “This is the clearest I’ve seen in years!”

He grinned at that. “Well, then, it’ll just get better from here.”

I can hardly wait.

I can see again… sort of.

Ultrasonic Eyeball Scan

Relax, this won't hurt a bit

The eye measurement was… odd. Most of it simply involved staring into some device with a light at the center while it flashed and strobed other lights into my eyeball. One measurement, however, used sonar and involved having a cup placed against my eyeball and then filled with liquid. A very odd sensation to say the least.

My surgery is now a few hours less than two weeks away and I’m dying to see it done.

A side benefit of my measurement appointment, however, was some advice the doctor gave me. She was talking about after care for my surgery and I asked her about how I would go about getting my prescription updated for my glasses. I was wondering of I would just get one lense done at a time as each eye was operated on. She advised against it. Apparently it takes up to six weeks for eyes to fully heal and settle into their final shape, so getting a new prescription any time before that would be premature and, probably, a pretty big waste of money. Instead, she said, I would be better off just buying a pair of reading glasses from the rack at the drug store for a temporary crude fix until my eyes were ready. Just take in some reading material and try glasses on until I could read with relative comfort.

Of course, I thought, how simple.

I took that advice and put it to use today. The prescription I picked out is, naturally, much stronger than my regular glasses… +2 in both lenses… but I can read, and that’s the important bit. I can read normal text and even some small text. This will go a long, long way to making the next two weeks much more bearable, and all for the cost of a night out at the movies.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been learning the computerized systems at work. As I’ve done so I’d swear my eyes have grown steadily worse. By the middle of last week I was forced to use the computer at work with my left eye shut just to keep my right eye from overcompensating for it. It was literally the only way I could read the text on the screen. And you’d think keeping one eye closed is a simple thing, but I suggest you try it for an hour or so. The accumulated strain results in a spectacular headache. Luckily simply relaxing with both eyes open can ease that ache considerably, but as soon as you have to go back to working with one eye that headache comes right back at full force.

Today I’ve been using my computer for a few hours with the reading glasses on and while I can feel the muscles in my eye having to work and re-work at focusing, I haven’t developed a headache yet. Best of all, I can read everything.

Yesterday was the first test of my apartment’s social functionality. I had a group of friends over for gaming around the big black table and I have to say it was a fair success. I may need to invest in some tv tables to give people a little more space for their stuff, but it seems like my place may become gaming central for our group since I’m centrally located.

Which is fine by me.

Eye wear my son glasses at night

Yep, itll have to come out.

Yep, it'll have to come out.

Went to the optometrist today. Received both some reassuring and disturbing news.

As I’d mentioned before when my mother was my age she was changing eyeglass prescriptions more and more frequently. By her late forties she was getting new lenses every six months or so. At the time I’d attributed it to her work, retouching film negatives with brushes as small as a single hair in size.

Well, my eyesight has been bothering me in increasing amounts over the past couple of years. I’ve gone through a couple of different eyeglass prescriptions already, and this after my prescription hadn’t changed in over twenty years. I started to worry that I’d wind up with my vision degrading as fast as my mother’s did.

I found out last year that I have a cataract on the lens of my left eye. My optometrist strongly suggested I get a physical in case this was indicative of something more. I followed her suggestion and, thankfully, found myself to be still fat but otherwise healthy. (and with cholesterol still lower than Ronya’s, a fact that continues to driver her nuts)

Today I found out that my right eye is also developing a cataract. Up until recently my right eye had been compensating for the blur in the left, but that’s no longer the case. Now, unfortunately, it’s time for surgery.

On the one hand I’m nervous because someone is going to be cutting into my eye. On the other hand I’m reassured that it’s an incredibly simple procedure these days and even the elderly that go through it recover easily. It takes about 15 minutes and some local anesthetic. They replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one and, presto, your vision is clear.

Which I’m eager to get, quite honestly. Right now any light source I look at has a foggy corona around it, something that makes driving at night just that much more difficult. I’m thinking I’m going to let Ronya drive at night until I get this fixed.

The downside is that the artificial lens, while clear, isn’t as pliable as the natural lens. This means I will definitely need reading glasses after the surgery is done. Which I’m more or less okay with because I’d kind of like to have reading glasses *now*. I’m already having to pull books away an extra foot or so to be able to read them clearly. Some of that is the cataract but a fair amount of that is simply my aging lenses getting more and more rigid on their own. Replacing them won’t be much of a loss.

The other slight downside is that it *is* a simple procedure done with local anesthetic. If someone is going to operate on my eye part of me would much rather be unconscious for the whole thing. If I’m awake and aware of everything going on I’m going to develop nightmares, I’m sure of it.

So now I have to wait for a specialist to contact me for an appointment, which I’m told will take a month or two, and then we will schedule the surgery, which I’m told could take as much as a year. I’m not in dire need (I’m annoyed but I can still see and function) so others will take precedence.

I’d rather wait the extra time under our current coverage than be able to have ready access to a procedure I can’t afford. At least this way I’ll get it done *eventually*.

In related news, Josh Silver’s self adjustable eyeglasses (which I wrote about here last year) are being talked about again, this time at TED.

20 healthy foods for under $1… sort of

This article does some dodgy work with numbers on occasion, but it does offer some marvelous alternatives to the ever present cheap snack foods that we indulge in when we’re broke. Now, some of the suggestions aren’t what I’d call “snack” foods (butternut squash? Tofu?) but they are cheap meal ingredients that can provide a load of nutrition without weighing down the budget.

Plus she endorses coffee. That alone sold me. 🙂

20. Coffee

The old cup-o-joe has been thrown on the stands for many a corporeal crime—heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis—but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is derived from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup.

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Chad Update

Tammy called me this afternoon with an update on Chad. Apparently he had a seizure last night. I’m not sure what that means in terms of details of his condition, but what it ultimately means is that he’s going to be transfered into hospice care sometime next week. Tammy wanted me to let everyone know.

And I can’t think of anything else to add.