Friday, November 30, 2007

The current nightmare and my dream for the future

Imagine this. You're uninsured. You've got a terrible sore throat and a deep hacking cough. You go to the local "Doc in a Box" clinic - the one that only takes cash or credit, and makes you pay before you see the doc.

When you first get there, you notice the plexiglass barrier between the receptionists and the clients. A large man sits in the corner, wearing a gun. Then you're told "Oh, we're sorry. You need an appointment to see someone, even if you're very ill. The wait time is about 3 weeks." You reluctantly make the appointment and hope to God you feel better. That office was awful.

Unfortunately, you don't get better. In fact, you're coughing up blood by now. Someone's sent you a list of items to bring to your appointment. You'll need your birth certificate, social security, proof of residency in the County, and pay stubs. Lots of pay stubs. You can pay for your care, you just need to see a doctor. Why are they treating you like a criminal?

So you get back to the doctor's office. You see people leaving in tears because they only have kidney stones, not pneumonias. The doctor's office is only treating Pneumonia and heart attacks now. If you have any other illness, you're SOL. They're the only doctors in town who will deal with uninsured clients.

You get treated like a loser as you attempt to fill in the paperwork. Wierd, scary people stare at you. You can't even use the bathroom without being accompanied by the gun-toting security guard. You just want to get better. You'll pay as much as you can, but everyone's making it impossible for you.

That, my freind, is the County Mental Health system. I get irate when people go on about how the crazy people don't want help and won't take their pills. If you had to go through that, just to be evaluated, would you ever come back if you could help it?

Thank God I didn't have to. My aunt found me Dr P, who takes uninsured patients (I pay cash before I see him, just like I do at the medical clinic). I pay for my care, and I pay for my pills. But what if, God forbid, I coudn't?

I'd have to go to the county mental health clinic. I did. It was hell. Here I am, already sick with mania. I can't sit still and I can feel the damned bugs crawling on my skin. I'm hyper and anxious and some kid pulls the fire alarm. Ha ha. You would have to be insane to want to go back to the county mental health clinic, assuming you had the wherewithal to get the necessary paperwork together in the first place. It was AWFUL! I knew I could DIE from my illness and I didn't want to go back.

Here's my dream. It's just like what happens at the regular medical clinic. I call and I make an appointment. A kind person answers my call and asks about my symptoms. I tell her and she makes a note. She tells me the date and time I can come in.

I come in early and I'm given a 1-3 page questionare (sic). I detail my symptoms and my medical history. I go to the desk and turn it in. While I'm there, I pay cash, or I swipe my "National Health Insurance" card. The receptionist smiles at me as I sit down again. I don't see a menacing security guard with a gun. Soon, my name is called, I speak with a doctor, and I walk out of there with my medication. My National Health Insurance covers my medication. I'll go back every month for a refill and checkup.

I truly believe that people want to be well. They know they are "sick", they hate it, and they want to feel like they're in control of their minds again. But if you make the process of applying for help, getting evaluated, and obtaining medication a difficult, painful, prohibitively expensive, and humiliating process then we'll continue to have "incidents" where "crazy people do crazy things".

I can dream. And I will.

I'm a hypocrite!

I don't like this cough. It gets worse when I'm around the cats, ergo allergies. I just remembered the Nasonex and got into it. That stuff isn't cheap, $100 a month, but it does work. 2 squirts up each nose ought to help me by tomorrow.

First of all, I have to state a fact that's going to put the whole rest of this post in perspective and honestly, make me look like the hypocrite I am. I drink about 12 cans of diet soda a day. Minimum. I hardly ever drink plain water. It's got bubbles, artificial color, scary sounding preservatives, and artificial flavors.

Today I had an alka-seltzer. I put it in 4 ounces of tap water. I can't remember the last time I had water before that. So. Having said that, I'll proceed.

I don't like to take antihistamines, I feel they overload my liver (remember all the sodas) and they're "toxic". You can tell I lived in CA for 15 years. However, they work. At least Claritin worked on the allergies, but made me manic.

Most everything except the stuff in Nyquil cough (doxy-something) and Benadryl make me freak out big time. I'm talking paranoid, up all night, survivalist mode benders. I like to avoid that.

The last couple weeks, I've noticed my gums bleeding in the morning when I brush my teeth. Obviously, I need more vitamin C. Fact: My Lexapro depletes my body's supplies of Vitamin C. I'd rather take Vitamin C than be suicidal again, that's a no-brainer.

Huh. My nose already dried up. Nasonex is good stuff.

Anyway, "insane" people tend to need more B vitamins, for instance (based on my research). I can't take a lot of herbal remedies for mood because they will interfere with my prescriptions. Sorry, prescriptions are going to win.

It was very awesome to discover, for instance, that I can take vitamin C, up to 4 grams, with my Lithium. If you're taking Lithium, you'll have to do your own research, but my Pill Book and the pharmacist both agree that Vitamin C won't hurt Lithium. Yay. It does help with the allergies and my gums finally stopped bleeding.

My immune system is out of whack, that's what allergies are. The immune system goes insane, attacking innocent cat dander and mold spores instead of actual viruses or bacteria. So, what kind of "Mood stabilizer" can I get?

Excuse me, FDA warning here. I'm not a doctor. Ron calls me his witch doctor. I am not saying these products can diagnose, cure, prevent, or treat anything even though it's what I believe.

Here's what I decided on:
Stash Licorice Spice tea. Licorice root regulates the immune system. Technically, it's an adaptogen. It raises what's too low, lowers what's too high. Think of Adaptogens as mood stabilizers. They keep things from getting too far out of line. Krogers grocery store sells it. I like to support stores that sell "My stuff" like licorice spice tea so I always buy a box when I go. I drink it, too, and it's delicious.

Siberian Ginseng tea bags by Now. Same principle. It's an excellent adaptogen and criminally cheap too. I got it here: http://www.drkowalski.com

Essiak tea. It's good for detoxifying and balancing the immune system. I got one box of the tea (also by NOW, who won a quality award for good manufacturing), if it's good and I feel useful, I'll get more.

TLC Cough and Throat by NOW. It's got good ingredients to soothe your throat and quiet a cough. I got two boxes. It has ALL the stuff I highlighted in my herb books as being good for coughs. And so affordable!

Last but not least, half a pound of vitamin C powder (only about $5). I hate choking down big pills. If I can dissolve it in water and drink it, I'd rather.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Boo-Boo

Well, I just can't have a dull day. Yesterday, in the midst of running around and excitement of making deposits, catching Metro, etc... I ate something yellow.

No! Not the yellow! I didn't really think of it when I ate the cheese-sauced roast beef (with bacon) but I sure noticed today around 11 AM when I developed a nasty headache. Mike, who works for the other vendor, was mopping with some Lysol. Whooooeeee. I thanked God for my chewable Tylenol Go tabs, chewed it, and the pain abated somwhat.

I'd rate today's headache at a good 4 on a 1-10. For me, that's hardly worth mentioning. The only real impact it had was that Tylenol affects my lithium levels, increasing them and causing me more side effects. Whine whine.

This morning Ron came to me and apologized. He stated that he'd woken up sitting on the toilet with a vague memory of me yelling at him. He had come into the "computer/exercise" room and spoke to me, then he started groping around on the floor. I asked him, rather shrilly, what he was doing. Looking for my trash can, he replied. He needed to urinate.

Shrill is probably an understatement of my reaction. I thought he was drunk, and I reacted accordingly. I was outraged and devastated. He was definitely groggy and slurring his words a bit. I told him, go urinate in the toilet. He insisted he needed to (violate my) trash can. I told him, NO! Go pee in the toilet! He complied and told me he woke up on the toilet.

"So what happened last night? All I remember is you yelling at me and then I was on the toilet. I did what? You're kidding me!"

So, he sleepwalks. I have a long history of sleepwalking myself. In fact, I usually wandered off in a strange place looking for a bathroom in the middle of the night. Other times, I'd have hysterics until someone found me my glasses. I'll talk up a storm, too. One night, my stepsister talked me into eating a snack, making a sandwich, and leaving a note on the table for my parents to find in the morning. Once I almost fell into a ravine looking for a latrine. The last time I can prove I sleepwalked was a few years back. Our house is all one level with a sliding glass door in my bedroom. A previous owner installed a heavy iron burglar bar type gate that locks in place over the entire sliding door. We always left it open. I woke up one morning and my legs hurt. I looked at my feet and saw they were dirty, and my legs were scratched up. I'd gone sleepwalking in the backyard. Ron locked the burglar bars so I can't get out the back anymore. The window is large enough for me to escape if we ever had a fire. At first I felt like an inmate but I've decided now that it makes me feel safe. If I can't get out (without breaking a window), no one can get in, either.

Ron always thought my sleepwalking was "wierd" so I don't doubt him. It's not something he'd want to admit to doing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I do want to add something to my other post, if I ever feel "unusual" in any way, and it's not managed by my medication, of course I'll call my doctor. I could tell him "I want to kick some ass" and he would get it, deal with it, all better.

Speaking of ass-kicking, it's union election time. We have about 1100 Postal Workers at our plant. One guy died over the weekend, heart attack. He was so sad. He never did anything nice for himself, always so gloomy and unhappy. Now he's dead. I hope he was saved, and I hope he had a decent insurance policy so his widow is OK. He was a postal worker so I'm sure he did. They have pretty tasty benefits.

So, union election time. I've been there for 6 years, and I've seen a few elections. At first they are very nice. You see an incredible assortment of flyers with promises to change, or promises to keep up the good work.

As the flyers become multi-colored and begin sporting photos, it begins to take a darker turn. The incumbent party does their best to remind you of the challenges they've overcome and the battles ahead, while reminding you they're on your side.

Now's a good time to remind you I'm apolitical. I don't care who wins, as long as they don't beat up "my" vending machines and they treat my husband with respect. [You do not ever want to dis my man. You will bleed.] I'm just an impartial observer here. Someone at the plant is going to read this so I feel compelled to state it. I don't care.

We generally have two parties, the Apples and the Oranges. I'm going to say the Apples are the incumbents. So far this year, very clean campaign. My only complaint is that a few of the people on their slate just state "Vote Bob Dole for Treasurer. Apple party. Endorsed by Apples". What are you planning to do? What is your track record? Tell me something about yourself. It's wonderful you got the Apples' support but they can run a bit thin.

The Oranges are already starting to make the usual personal attacks and "Unlike the current administration, I plan to ...." A few elections ago, the Apples managed to "steal" a candidate from the Oranges. Boy, that was a mess. You would not believe the personal attacks after that!

But my favorite line from an election-time poster: John Doe was forced off the ticket after he was "set up and framed for striking his supervisor. It was all a plot of management to get him off the party."

Set up? Framed? Striking a supervisor? I asked around, yes, the man actually HIT HIS BOSS in front of witnesses. Only at the processing center.

Even at my worst, I just thought they were conspiring against me. I kept a log or two of "Insults" but I never, ever, considered HITTING MY BOSS.

Even when it's Ron!

"I need to take an antipsychotic"

It's funny. Ron and I were relating the "Ron had to take the cat to the vet all by himself" story. A funny story, I think, with all the goodness of humanity coming to the rescue of poor terrified Bubba in his carrier as Ron inadvertently slams him in the door.

"You took your cat to the doctor but not your wife?" Nope. Interesting story - I hate going to the doctor. I don't mind my "Brain tune ups" as I view the visits with my psychiatrist - mainly just side effect and mood reporting. But I hate going to the doctor.

Before, I used to go as often as I felt I needed to. Sore throat? Persistent cough? Doctor. I've had a persistent dry cough for over a week now but I won't go to the doctor. I figure either, it's bronchitis and antibiotics won't help (My Merck Home manual says so), or it's cat allergies and I'm not giving up the cat. Benadryl helps at night, I'm sleeping fine, so no worries. Before, I wouldn't have been happy until I had an antibiotic, something guaranteed to kill the cough, and assurances that I'd be fine, really. I used to be a real pain in the ass.

That said, I realized something over the course of two days. Monday we went to Walmart. I think I needed light bulbs. I noticed a very obese man with a walker, the kind that has a seat. He needed it because he would have taken up the whole bench if he'd sat on it. He was obviously waiting on someone, I assumed his wife. She showed up, and they left the store.

Ron had called MACS (Metrolift Automated Call in Service) to check on his ride. He told me our ride was only a few minutes away. I went outside. Mrs Big was outside, talking to the cabdriver. The cab clearly displayed the Metrolift card. God, this is humilating but I hope this will help someone.

So, Mrs. Big is interrogating the driver, I come up on the tail end of "But where's our ride? Aren't you here for (Surname)?" The driver shook his head and looked at me. I recognized the driver. I asked him "Are you here for (my surname)?" The woman gets a real attitude with me, I get snippy back, and it culminates in my saying "Like I told you, he's here for us." as I marched around the van. GRRR.

I heard the usual "Well, I never." attitude that I feel comes with some people. I hate them, and I don't care if they know it. They act like the world has to stop what it's doing and tell them everything they want to know Examples: "How so I sign up for Metrolift service, because I'm too dumb to copy the phone number painted on the side of the vehicle." Or "I don't care about your schedule. I have a cell phone, and there's a pay phone right over there. You have to drop everything, make Heather wait, and find out where my ride is because I'm too lazy to pick up a phone and dial an 800 number. I know it can take up to 5 minutes but I don't care. Everything revolves around me."

See, I'm being very honest and open. Ron was embarrassed and felt I had used the voice on her. He hates the voice; he says it conveys that I believe they are an incredibly stupid life form that shouldn't be sharing my air. Generally, when he says that, it's exactly how I feel. I don't care if they get their feelings hurt because I don't fall and worship at their feet. I could care less what they think of me, I really don't care. I see them as a pimples; unavoidable and incredibly annoying. Get it the hell out of my life, I'm not kissing their ass.

Not to mention, this vehicle was a Windstar minivan with a wheelchair area in the back. It's got comfortable seating for 4, crowded seating for 5 average people. The driver had already picked up 2 other clients. Seating for 2 more. She (Mrs. Big) actually thought he was there to pick up both couples. Her giant husband, her overweight self (she outweighed me by a good 50 pounds), myself (low 200's), and Ron? No way in hell, even if the cab had been empty. The only vehicle that guy would fit into was a large white van (the kind with seating for a good dozen or so).

Yeah. I had an attitude. I wasn't ashamed to say it. I didn't care that she knew I had no respect for her or her husband. Sorry, I don't. I didn't appreciate her snippy attitude and refusal to give up when she knew that guy wasn't her driver.

So. That was strike one. Strike two was "And I'm not sorry either!". I really couldn't see Ron's point of view, how he might have been embarrassed. Now I can understand Ron's embarassed and he hates it when I do that. So, don't do it for them, but maybe tone it down for him.

Strike three happened on Tuesday morning at work, when I realized I was spoiling for a fight and I really, really, wanted to kick someone's ass. I really did. It was painful, almost. I wasn't to the point of baiting people but it wouldn't have taken much to set me off.

That's when I realized, I need to take an antipsychotic (I had been taking my usual dosages, but I always keep extra medication in my purse). I hunted down the Risperdal, took it (.25 mg), and hid in the stockroom until I started to feel a little floaty.

I could even deal with customer complaints and mandates that I must stock this unsellable item. Ron was awfully happy to know I saw the problem and addressed it before it became anyone else's problem. I may be nuts but I hate acting nuts. I don't want people to "understand" either, to me that would be the worst thing of all. "Oh, poor Heather. She can't help it. She's bipolar, you know."

I'm not itching for a fight, either. It's tough to realize I really don't have very good control of my brain. I have more control than I used to, but it's never easy to admit "I'm insane. If I don't take my pills, I'll hurt myself or others."

It's hell. I wonder how many people go off their pills because they can't stand the idea that without medication, they're insane.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Frenzy - or come shop with me

Being sick, I didn't go out for almost a week. I used up my groceries. I have learned that there is such a thing as too much vegetable soup. If I eat another spoonful this month, I'll scream.

However, I needed something to help kill my cough at night when I'm sleeping. The cats needed more num-nums (canned food), Ron needed groceries, and I was itching for a trip to Walmart.

I have never gone shopping on Black Friday. I worked it a few times and the shifts were hellish. So, a decade after I got out of the retail game Ron and I decided, we're going in. We decided on 6 AM to 7:30. It's early, but not the 5AM early-bird-special-sale early. The regular sleepins are going to wait until later to come in. It ought to work.

So, for the first time in a week I donned something other than a nightgown. Remember my pants falling off? They kept trying to do it today, too. It got kind of embarrassing.

Our ride was a little late picking us up but I was ready and waiting with a bag of driver candy. I also gave him a pair of the magic gloves, he loved them. The magic gloves stretch to fit. A lot of Houstonians don't have a pair of gloves but when you're a driver in the cold... you wish you did.

We had a great ride in with him. The Super-center was packed. The Deputy on duty at the door did a double-take at Ron's "No eye holes" ski mask, until he saw the long white cane. I grabbed my list and dove in.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. I was able to buy a soda within a minute or two - when I shop I like to have a bottle of Diet Dr Pepper in the cart. I guess you could call it my co-pilot. It sits right up there next to my list on the plastic clipboard. I've got my wavy brown hair back in the ponytail and I push my glasses up with my index finger as I chew on my lower lip. I'm probably talking to myself as I make my choices, too.

First on the list, cold remedies. Ron wanted the classic nyquil, I went for the generic cough and cold nightime formula (it has an antihistamine, cough suppressant, and tylenol). I've actually pulled an abdominal and a neck muscle coughing, so the painkiller will help. I got them, more vitamin C, etc. I turned the corner between linens/toys/hardware and quickly backtracked. You couldn't have paid me to take that aisle! [shudders]

I took a quick detour over to the craft department. Now that was quiet! And they had the blue skein of Red Heart I've been needing for Cole's blanket. No one is safe, if you're related to me you're getting an afghan.

I headed over to the Women's department, hitching up my jeans yet again. Speaking of... it's the busiest business day of the year. Maybe they have my - ah, hell with it. I have been wearing size 22 W. [I'll wait patiently for the screams to fade].

I got a pair in the 20W. Yay! I bet they fit, too. I could fit my whole fist in between my waistband and my waist, with plenty of room to spare. It will rock if/when I get out of the Women's department. Do you know how hard it is to find Petite waist 22 W jeans? For $10, God bless you Walmart... It's almost impossible.

And at Walmart you've got to take what they've got and a "Women's" size with a "Petite" inseam, which sounds kind of schitzophrenic now that I think about it, is not always readily available. Especially the cheap, $10 pair, which I love. But Yay, they had them. In the dark rinse. I'm not picky, really I'm not, I just want size 20W Jeans with a Petite inseam, that won't make me look like a dork, and the Dark Rinse for $10. If you can, please.

And they had them. God bless you Walmart.

The Grocery section? I wasn't surprised to see they were out of "My" soda (Cherry Cola Diet Rite). They only stock about 4 cases at a time anyway, I can deal. Ron got a wine box, because he's not stupid with the wine, I'm happy to say.

I got the other groceries on my list and only saw one other person (scanning something at the check a price thing) until I checked out. I only had to wait a minute or two in line and them BAM, I'm out of there.

And our pickup was early, so we didn't have to wait forever either. Yeah!

Thanks again for the Jeans.

Review: Texasprepares.org

I wanted to like it. I really did. I saw the ads on TV and I was filled with hope...

Texasprepares.org. Disaster prepardness website. For Texas. Don't be stupid, be ready. That's my motto, but you get the point. You know me, and if you don't I'm easy to know. Read my posts, I'm WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). An opinionated woman.

I really commend the Department of Human Services. It's a wonderful idea. But it's incredibly clunky, cumbersome, and slow (for me on dialup). It takes over two minutes to load each page, each page has a checklist with maybe 8 or 9 items? Come on!

So far, I've had everything except the plastic sheeting, and I could use garbage bags in a pinch for that. Let's see if two cat carriers (one per animal) and 7 extra pounds of cat food is adequate. Yup, I even have the "current photo" - and Ron and I plan to have the boys microchipped as well.

CLUNKY
SLOW
BOOORING.

But it's not a total dud. It does get the information out there in a semi-useful fashion.

I give it a C. After all, I do need the plastic sheeting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A hobby is a lot better than a mania

It's obvious by now, if you've been following me (or you know me) that I have a lot of varied interests. One of the saddest things about my hobbies and interests was the way my disease perverted them.

I don't mean I did perverted things with a ginger root, I mean I couldn't not think about them. I would obsess over every little crumb of detail. I'd spend way more money than I could afford on supplies, only to watch them gather dust as I crashed into another doorbuster depression.

It's nice to rediscover my old freinds again, with my new freinds (the mood stabilizers) on board. I bought a used copy of the Herbal PDR. I had one in California but it got lost in the move. I wish-listed a few more herbal books at Alibris. I intend to buy my own bottle of Olive Leaf, some Panothetic acid, and maybe some powdered vitamin C. And that's it. How pleasant and peaceful! I could get used to this! I can just enjoy my interest without it dominating my every thought. Wow. It's beautiful.

Same with nutrition. I'm definitely interested in becoming as healthy as I can, limiting my drug's toxicities, and living a better quality of life. I enjoy making my own fresh vegetable soups with organic ingredients, prepared to retain flavor and nutrition. I like knowing "I'm doing myself a favor by eating this delicious meal I selected". I also like not hoading vegetables I'll never eat, or letting wierd meats rot in the fridge because I've lost my nerve.

Once we clean up the backyard, I plan to get back into gardening again. Most people who know me will recall I went pretty manic for gardening back in '06. I plan to clean up my little plots, plant some veggies we'll eat, and spend 20 minutes a day tending it - not the hours a day I was compelled to before.

I just gotta be careful I don't get overheated, that would be bad. Good thing winter's coming.

I think Tom Cruise is a lousy actor and I don't find him cute

I'm an X-generation heretic. I think Tom Cruise is a lousy actor and I don't find him cute. He's too smug, it makes me want to kick his butt. Not kiss it. I think Nicole Kidman has more talent in her baby toe than he could hope to get in his whole life. I also feel sorry for his poor girlfriend, trapped into his cult crap. Sad for her. He, I see as a pathetic, weak, overblown ego. I've been meaning to share that; I'd rather date the elephant man.

As a teenager, my tastes were an obvious lead-up to the man I married. My biggest crush had a receding hairline, paunch, and bad knees but he was so kind and sweet. My Secret Admirer? He had a cleft palate and loved the fact that I saw him. One of my best friends had cerebal palsy with quadraparesis (all limbs were weak), but he was smart and funny. I loved Sean Connery, but my favorite actor ever was: Fred Dryer. He was definitely rugged-looking. It was just one of those visceral things. I think Denzel Washington is mighty attractive too.

It's not surprising that when I met a bald, average-looking (he thinks he's ugly, which I find very sad), blind guy with a receding hairline it didn't bother me. I'm glad I chose him. I love knowing that I have a big hand in those laugh lines.

Gack

I'm proud of the fact that I have my "Cold and Flu" kit at home. I love that it was stocked with cough drops, remedies, OTC treatments, and tissues. I just wish I had it all in one place.

Yesterday, I found my bottle of Glutamine in a box with some other supplements. It's very effective when taken in the early stages (Dr Atkins was a huge proponent) of your cold/flu virus. Sambucol is awesome too. I did have the Sambucol. Mine has pretty much come and gone, except for the aggravating postnasal drip and the "drip cough".

The Glutamine wouldn't really work for me, but Ron's just getting the sore throat. He sounds a little rough and sniffly today but he's not what I'd call "sick". We asked Chuck to help us get a bottle of Olive Leaf (the best remedy ever), so Ron's taking Vitamin C, Glutamine, and Olive Leaf. I'm taking Olive Leaf, licorice root tea, Vitamin C, multivitamin, and eating more garlic. Plus my mood stabilizers. No wonder I hated getting sick before. Ugh. Bipolar with psychotic features is bad enough, but imagine it with a fever! Poor baby!

Thankfully those days are behind me. I'd get the flu every month before I'd go back to that.

Bubba was a sweet baby. He slept next to me last night. I sure love that cat.

I also found some more cough drops in a box on the kitchen table. I don't know how it works for you, but if something is around long enough, I don't "see" it anymore. I kept passing it up, until I sat down and actually looked at it. It's part of what makes me so disorganized. Anyway, it had cough drops (sugarfree) and zinc lozenges (ew!). The zinc might have helped me ....

Ron called me away to watch Turkey Bowling on TV. He's got a good idea of the things I like. I don't want to watch the noon news but that's OK. King of the Hill is on. Ron even likes it. I've seen this episode before so I can type and listen.

I decided to "try" one of my zinc lozenges. Ugh. Cherry flavored metal. Yum, yum. Ugh. I sorted out all my red cough drops and stuck them in my purse to give away (if we're riding with someone who's coughing, I can give them a cherry cough drop), then I collated all my other cough drops. I've got a bag by my bed, a bag on the table, and a bag in my purse.

Gack. These zinc things are awful.

Now I've got all my cold and flu remedies in one place. I don't want to get sick again, but I love the feeling of "I've already prepared for this, just open the box for remedies." Kind of like my disaster kit.

I couldn't take it any more. I spit out the zinc thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"You don't want me to open the door, I've got the flu"

I had a couple people come by the house yesterday, not counting the drivers who took Ron to Starbucks and the vet. Well, took Ron and Bubba to the vet.

The first ding-dong was a happy one. A large box on my doorstep! What could it be? I waited until the deliveryman was halfway to his truck before I opened the door and said Thank You. Yay! Walton's dehydrated food! 4 meals - just add boiling water and cook, and a side of dehydrated egg, one applesauce - even opened it can keep on the shelf for years. Now I have a couple extra weeks' worth of food in my disaster kit. Ron's happy with the food choices, he says he'd happily eat them (except egg powder and applesauce). Good.

The second time, I opened the blinds. I look like crap. I look sick. The salesman waved at me though the glass and said hello. I said "I don't want to give you my flu". He jumped back, and thanked me repeatedly as he left.

Hey, he's got it a lot tougher than I do. I just want to whine! Huh. This is the first time I've been really sick After Medication. I had a couple of family crises (see October) and plenty of migraines but this is the first time I've actually been "sick" since starting my medication. It's going to be interesting to see how differently I behave.

I was not a nice person before.

I'm at the cranky stage

I'm at the cranky stage of my cold/flu whatever virus. I just mainly have the postnasal drip and the cough, cough COUGH as a result of said drip. Horrible, dry hacking coughs.

I took my Mucinex, drinking buckets of herbal tea, and resting. I'm cranky. I actually miss work. Ron took one listen to me this morning and said I was staying home. I may not be contaigious, but I sure sound that way. Tomorrow I have to go in regardless; so I'm resting up.

Bubba sprouted an odd-looking lump on his side over the weekend. Ron and I were worried about him, so Ron took him to the vet. She's a great vet who talks to the cats while she treats them. She has cats of her own. It's a one-vet practice so I didn't go. I didn't want to get her sick. Ron took a cab each way and they were fast, cheap trips. The cab drivers helped him get into and out of the vehicles (not easy when you're carrying a heavy house cat in a carrier).

Turns out Bubba had an abcess, probably obtained during a cat fight. Him's a naughty boy, yes he is. The only other time we needed a vet to look at him was due to a wasp sting above his eye. It was pretty spectacular. They shaved him, lanced him, drained him, and injected him with antibiotics. Ron asked for liquid antibiotics so I can dose him easily. Bubba was an incredibly brave boy and very well-mannered. He's asleep by my bed now. I'm glad he's OK. I sure love that animal.

I'm drinking licorice root tea. I'm also drinking hyssop and Mullein tea for the cough. Spiced teas to break up the congestion. Taking my lithium (apparently I can get away with taking Lithium + Vitamin C without nausea) and the other pills. I'm very proud of myself. No matter what happens during the day, I took my pills! I took care of myself and made sure my problems aren't everyone else's. That's the bottom line.

[cough cough]

UGH! I feel like CRAP! Nasty virus!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Do you get fever dreams?

Saturday I kept feeling worse and worse. The muscle aches, fever, and the cough finally clinched it. I have the flu.

This is who I am: Happy that it's been 9 years since my last bout with the flu. I like that. My life is so much better than it was 9 years ago. How wonderful that I'm healthy so often. How rare it is for me to be truly ill.

Sunday I needed cough drops. I'm sorry. I'm sorry Metrolift drivers. I'm sorry Walmart employees. I really needed my cough drops. Imagine my horror when I read the label on my cough drops. Red #40 and Yellow #5. Whatever I've got, it'll be a lot worse with a migraine. I barely had enough "undyed" cough drops to get me to Sunday morning.

Halls naturals uses beta-carotene (natural food coloring) to color it's cough drops. They also have sage extract, which is really great for sore throats. I got some sugarfree Ricola and the generic Halls' as well.

The encouraging thing, if I can call it that, is that many other customers were also sporting the flushed and feverish look, the dry hacking cough, and the general malaise that I had. It's not just me, everyone goes to Walmart when they're sick. It would be interesting to do a study and see if the cashiers have more antibodies than the average person on the street. I imagine they do.

Sunday also brought the fevers and the fever dreams. When I checked, I had fevers of 101.5. This morning it was down to normal. I had horrible fever dreams yesterday and last night. Creepy, surreal landscapes like an awful painting that gives you the creeps; except I can't look away, I'm stuck in it, battling my way out. Horrible.

Thank God I'd taken my mood stablizers and antipsychotics; I can't imagine how much worse it could have been.

A fever is an excellent way for your body to fry viruses. They can't stand heat, it kills them. I didn't take anything to lower my fever and I'm glad. I was pretty much limited to Benadryl (for the runny nose and sneezing) and Mucinex (for the coughing and congestion). The usual antihistamines will make me freak out for a week with one dose. Same with decongestants, if I'm very lucky I might be able to take one dose and not get hyper. I wasn't hurting too bad until this morning (and my fever was down anyway), so I didn't want a painkiller (it will lower the fever, which fries the viruses). So, Mucinex and Benadryl.

This morning I had a pretty hideous headache, but the Alka-Seltzer killed it dead. Yay. I just have the cough (which does make my head hurt),weakness, and muscle aches. I read somewhere that when your body is under attack it will break down muscle tissue to make more antibodies. It makes sense. I don't have much of an appetite, which is a little bit of a problem. I have to eat a pretty good meal to take my mood stabilizers. If I don't, I'll get sick. When I finish here I'll eat some breakfast and take my pills (bipolar pills).

So, what did I do to help myself? What worked? God forbid, if you're sick, what are good ideas?
Here goes:
  • Do not eat sugar in any form. Sugar is death to your immune system. If you want some fruit, eat the whole fruit, not just the juice (I ate some orange segments).
  • Spicy foods are great for breaking up congestion. I, the flavor wimp, actually craved hot sauce. I ate plenty and I feel it helped a lot. Garlic and onions are awesome immunity foods, too. If you like Chinese food, get some hot and spicy soup. Egg drop would be good, too, lots of protein.
  • Eat lots of protein. Your body fights infection by making antibodies (out of protein). If you don't have much of an appetite, stick to the protein foods.
  • Take a hot bath. Hot baths are great for getting steam into your "passages", relaxing you, and raising your core temperature to help kill those nasty viruses.
  • Olive leaf, 500 mg capsules, with 6% Oluropein (I get mine at GNC). I feel my illness would have been a lot worse if I hadn't taken them.
  • Vitamin C - it's been done to death, but I feel it works. I won't get into the details but I realized my bipolar pills deplete my body of vitamin C. I will probably take at least 500 mg a day from here on out.
  • Vitamin A - Excellent for healing and tissue health. I got mine by taking the Walmart "Antioxidant" formula. It's got Zinc (awesome for healing), Vitamin C (a respectable 250 mg), and a day's worth of Vitamin A. I took a couple a day.

That's it! It's nice to know I'm going to live. I knew the whole time, but I actually feel it now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It takes a real man to yell at a blind cripple

That guy at work infected me. Remember I told you about a week ago? Some guy at work hacked and sneezed all over me as I was stocking a machine? I was angry because he gets buckets of sick time and he could have easily been paid just as much to stay home?

Yesterday the sore throat progressed into the classic cold symptoms. Ugh. Today I had to work. I don't have sick time and Ron can't do my job. I felt like some awful disease vector; praying to God that our customers or paratransit drivers would not catch my cold. As it turns out, it's a very good thing I went in today.

Chuck had called us and warned us that the sink is being replaced. It backs up what appear to be coffee grounds, so someone is dumping coffee grounds into the sink on a regular basis and clogging it, or I've heard maintenence people tell stories of fishing out disgusting clogs of meat fat and god-knows-what. People don't treat the drain properly, it clogs often, and someone finally made the right complaint.

The solution is not to tell people not to put bad things down the drain, but to replace the whole sink and all the pipes underneath it. We may pay for it in the next stamp increase, but other than that it shouldn't affect us, right?

When we came in today, the whole corridor in front of the sink was roped off with caution tape. Ron was unable to access 3/4 of his machines as a result. Ron asked the maintenence guy if he could open up the area so he could get through. No, the man replied. OK. How am I supposed to fill my machines, then?

The next thing I know, the man is shouting angrily at Ron. He's sick of Ron. He's sick of the questions. He's sick of the complaining! Ron asks the man's name. The man shouts it at Ron and then says he'll be happy to give his social security number. Ron says, who is your boss? The guy REALLY goes off then. You'll just have to find out on your own, he shouts.

My first reaction was that this couldn't be happening. This is the second time this year that a maintenence guy has "Gone off" on my husband (the other guy was enraged when Ron asked him to turn down a very loud television). I'm very low-key, but very protective of him. My second reaction was the expected, I'm going to get you. I went pretty straight to wrath of God brimstone wanting to murder him.

I call the front office while KG (dumb to give his real name) is shouting at me to go ahead and cry to Mommy. Am I going to tell? As the lady in the front office answers, I explain. I give the man's name. I hold the phone up so she can hear him shouting at Ron again. Ron was a cool cucumber. He doesn't feed into the guy at all, he's just calm and smooth. I asked "Front Office" to "Please get his boss out here, someone needs to yank his chain and make him behave. He's yelling at a blind cripple now. What's next?"

Within 30 seconds, the radio crackled. It was his boss. By this time, my hands are shaking with rage. I went over to Ron and we figured out a work-around so he could do his job. I had to basically escort him the long way around several times. I also wanted to be there if that man went off on him again.

During and after work, Ron made series of phone calls. He started with the plant manager and worked his way down to the man's immediate supervisor. It's been well documented and it ought to go in his permanent record.

"KG lost his house in New Orleans during Katrina. This isn't the first time he's done this." Well, I'm sorry for his loss but that doesn't give him carte blanche to attack my husband. Ron wasn't baiting him, he asked a simple question. How can I do my job if this is blocked?

If he is post-traumatic, I'm sorry. I have empathy for everyone who lost homes. But I have problems. I have emotional conditions. I am well aware that if I'm not medicated, everyone suffers. If this is all due to his "trauma", then he needs to take a leave of absence, see a counselor and get some medication. My psychiatrist specializes in post-traumatic stress syndrome, he says there are many excellent medications out there. He's got insurance to pay for all of it unlike me.

Don't go postal on my husband. It's a damned good thing I took my medication today or there would have been blood on the floor.

I asked Ron. "Is it OK to hope he caught my cold?"
He laughed.

Now I have to pray for the guy who infected me, and that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bubba loves me

My cat loves us so much. This morning I discovered a large, dead mouse on the floor by his food bowl.

I thanked him. Screaming and yelling won't work. Do I really want a live mouse around my home anyway? Do I want a dead mouse decaying under a bed? No. If I have to have it, I'd rather a dead rodent in an obvious location.

So I thanked Bubba for killing it and leaving it out for us to find. The construction nearby is really cranking up his kills. All the little creatures are being driven into our subdivision. He's gotten about 6-8 mice and two rats that I know of.

I don't care much if it's dead and in an obvious place, so I'm using Dale Carnagie and praising the behavior I appreciate. I'm glad Ron does the "Man Job" of disposing of the poor dead creature.

Eeek.

It pushes my button

I woke up today with a mild sore throat. Whenever that happens, I get furious. Why?

I work for my husband. No sick leave, no insurance. I'm supposed to be disabled, and I only work part-time, but the way I see it I don't "need" the disability check every month. I'm healthy. I live in a quiet, safe subdivision. My husband provides for me. If he dies or we lose our location then I'd go for disability, but I feel God does not want me taking that money right now. I like to believe I am an ethical person. I'm not "needy".

I see Postal workers every day. I see trainees, learning to be mail carriers. They all have benefits and sick leave. They have good medical, I've seen the flyers. My freind gets about 6 weeks of vacation a year.

So why do they come in to work when they're sick? They have sick leave. Why not use it when they're actually sick? My friend says perhaps they are on the restricted sick leave list. They call in on Mondays, Fridays, and holidays. They call in for hangnails and haircuts. So they have to get documentation, from a doctor, and bring it to work every time they call in.

Instead, they'd rather come in to work, flushed and sweating. They hack virulently and gasp for breath (I wish I were exaggerating here), they blow congested noses and snort into their tissues. Then they walk around, touching all the doors and polluting the air we breathe.

Ron and I are big fans of Olive Leaf. It's a natural herbal antimicrobal/antiviral/antiparisitical. If you've got a "bug", Olive Leaf is the cure. It's awesome.

I've got a sore throat due to the aforementioned jerk. I'm going to take my Olive Leaf. I'm going to pray for him because he did me wrong and the Bible tells me to do that.

But I am going to be a little aggravated that the jerk didn't stay home like any considerate human would have done. Dumb, greedy jerk.

Thanks a lot.

Where's my boredom? Or I'm fat

I finally emailed Walton's (dehydrated food). Apparently my order got lost, they are very sorry, rush shipping. Yay! I get my dehydrated food for the disaster kit. Hey, stuff happens.

Monday was exciting. Tuesday was pretty tame. Wednesday we had off, but we ran around and did a lot (like get paid!). Thursday, sure as the sun rises, I went to Walmart. On the way home our ride was late. No biggie. He had a Ford Windstar minivan with the 3rd row seating. I told him I'd put my box of groceries in the back. It has a hatchback, with plenty of room for my box. At first he argued and said he'd put it up front but I said I'll do it, no problem.

He opens the back. He's got a 5-gallon gas can in the back. Not only that, the whole vehicle REEKS of gasoline fumes. It's incredibly nauseating. Ron says something to the driver, who acts like "Of course I have a gas can, doesn't everyone?". We're in Houston. Per capita we have more gas and convienience stores than any other city, I bet. It's very difficult to drive a couple of miles and not find a gas station. So why the can?

It gets better. I gave him his driver candy like I always do. He's eating it and looking in the back at me. I figure, it's not very often you see a 30-something white woman, long brown hair and glasses, married to a grizzled, balding Creole. Not only that, he's totally blind and he's had a stroke. What's with those two? We get that a lot. People try to figure out what we see in each other, I guess.

He finally says something. "You always ride with him?" I told him I usually do but Ron likes to go to Starbucks by himself. "How long have you been with him?" 15 years, I tell him.

"Oh." He says. "You really got fat." I don't know why but it seems like a lot of people, a year after I gained the weight, feel compelled to tell me that I've gained the weight. "What happened?" is a common question. I even had a deaf woman who works the night shift asking me why I got fat, but at least she was concerned. Besides, these days I can't eat the fattening stuff or I'll get a migraine.

The driver repeats himself. I'm fat. I ask him why it is that everyone feel compelled to tell me. Doesn't he think I noticed? At this point Ron jumps to my rescue and tells the driver the medication I take messses with my metabolism (it does) and the body doesn't matter, it's the spirit that's important.

The driver restates himself for a third time, but I ignore him. Where's my boredom?

Yesterday my pants fell off as I was running across a street. I noticed they'd been getting loose, but I didn't know they were that loose. I went home and measured. I've lost 2 inches off my waist in the last couple of months.

Apparently, my new policy of eating fresh, unprocessed foods; organic when possible, is paying off. Yay.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday

Saturday, we went into work to empty the vending machines and remove the perishables. We didn't leave until 10:30 PM. I was so tired (no nap, either) by the time we left I was starting to see people walking towards me.

One problem. The people weren't there! I was hallucinating. I was pretty calm about the whole thing. I just got into my purse and popped a Risperdal (my dose was a little late). At least I know it's just a symptom.

Of course, when I got home I had a terrible time falling asleep, but I knew I'd really hurt myself if I stayed up all night. My symptoms are under control.

I like it that way.

Jack

After reading this post, you'll probably have either a strongly positive or a strongly negative reaction. Most people are disapproving. They think Ron was "mean", but they won't say it. I'm getting that off their body language.

So. The story begins about 20 years ago in sunny San Mateo County. Ron had a business and rode the 6A to and from work. He often rode with a driver named Ted. Ron and Ted became good freinds and used to go out together after work (have a beer, talk), or Ron would ride the bus just to chat with Ted.

One day Ted called Ron. He was very upset. A blind man had fallen off the bus and broken his ankle. Jack was an alcoholic and had been very drunk at the time of the accident. He found an ambulance chaser attorney who decided to sue the bus company. The attorney was doing his best to make it sound like, in spite of the fact that my client was totally hammered, staggering, and slurring his words, in spite of the fact he almost fell while sitting down... it's your fault, isn't it?

Ted was distraught. "My best friend is blind, I didn't do anything different than I would have done for him! My friend uses his long white cane, he doesn't just carry it around for show!" But Ted couldn't say it. A sighted person couldn't tell a blind man he messed up, although he tried.

Ron was livid. I have never seen him so angry in my life. I suggested he call Ted's lawyer, or have Ted tell his lawyer, the name of a mobility expert (someone who teaches "The blind" how to get around without falling off of buses). He could be an expert witness. The expert witness could view Jack's "cane technique" and state that no bus driver could keep Jack from hurting himself if he walked around like that. Ron also offered to be a blind expert witness - to state, this is how I get around, demonstrate proper cane technique, and state for the record that no one traveling the way Jack did could keep from hurting himself.

If a sighted man couldn't critique him, a blind man could. Ron told Ted all of this. Ted called his lawyer and union rep. The bus company had offered to settle with Jack for TEN THOUSAND dollars. Jack refused. After hearing Ron's evidence, they made another call. "No deal, we're going to court!" They shared the information they had (mobility expert, cane technique, expert blind witness) and Jack's lawyer dropped the lawsuit.

I am very proud of Ron for what he did. Too many idiots are out there playing victim when they're the ones responsible for their own problems.

"The blind" have enough of a problem with being accepted as valued members of society without everyone feeling like they have to "save" them. How can anyone respect you if you don't respect yourself?

If you have a problem (blindness) deal with it. Get the tools and USE THEM. If you don't use the tools, then don't cry victim.

Just another manic Monday

I awoke at 3 am, got dressed, off to work. We had to wrestle a large box of sandwiches onto the van. I got dizzy. AGH.

Don't read this paragraph if you are eating or about to do so. I warned you. Saturday at work, we were approached by a very scary looking homeless guy. We were waiting at the little "waiting area" outside and this guy got it into his head that we were waiting at a bus stop. I could tell by looking at him that we didn't want to chat. He was very belligerent and argumentative, but we finally convinced him, no bus comes here. If you want a bus, go that way. As he walked away, I could tell he had a bowel accident at some point in the past. I looked over at the bench. It was soiled. Considering I had no gloves, rags, or cleansers I did what I could to fix it up (old newspaper to "sop it up"), but I vowed to make it nice again.

Today I came armed with a can of fake Lysol I got at Walmart. I threw away the paper, which did a decent job considering andsoaked the bench thoroughly with the disinfectant spray. When I came out later to receive the sandwich delivery, I soaked it again. It's in a sunny location, and sun is a natural disinfectant. Tomorrow, I'll bring a 1-gallon laundry detergent container full of Pinalen cleanser and some rubber gloves to finish the job. I can't live with myself if I don't do what I can to clean it up. I'm not responsible, the scary homeless guy walking around like that is responsible, but still. I know it's there, no one else will do it (for sure), so I will. I sit there often waiting on Metrolift. He may not have gotten my bench but that's not the point.

But wait, there's more! We got to work, got the stuff in the building. Where's the junk food delivery? Not there. 7 AM. I get my donuts. He's on time. I hear a rumor, no junk food 'till 8. OK. I get my sandwiches, came in, and gave them to Ron. My empty snack machines glared at me accusingly. "We're empty. Hungry and naked. Where's our snacks? Hungry postal workers are walking away from us right now!" I apologized to them. Ron tells me delivery is 8:30 now.

I do what I can around work, but it's not much. See, I'm supposed to get my delivery at 5:30-6 AM. I unload the pallet and put the needed merchandise on my rolling cart (If I have an office, the Mag-liner cart is it). 7-8 I receive deliveries, check expiration codes, and help Ron. 8-9:30 I stock, stock, stock. Metrolift arrives at 9:45 and we go out to eat.

NO. It was sit sit sit bored bored get the other deliveries. Bored sit. Finally 8:25. I go out a little early. I see the delivery truck is on the dock, so I tell the other vendor's employee. She is paged repeatedly, messages left on the cell phone. I was out at 8:30. I said "My hero!" and happily hugged my pallet of junk food, my snacks will look great now. When I have a problem I present it as "I can't find the peanuts, could you help me find them?" When something wasn't on the pallet I said "I'll just subtract it off." Pitching a fit just makes me look bad, it makes my husband look bad, and it makes our business look bad. I'm already to go at 8:40. Problem.

The other vendor shares a pallet jack with us. They keep it. It's not a problem, they use it more anyway. Remember when I said I told them at 8:25 or so the delivery was on the dock? She doesn't come out until 9 AM. "You messed up my routine!" It lasted a while, a shrill tirade, which ended in "And it better not happen again!" I mean, think about it. He's had to wait forever on you, he's going to be even later to all his other stops, and he has to deal with a bad attitude from you and everyone else. Trust me, if he can help it, it won't happen again. But you can't tell people this. She's old enough to be my other. I can't tell her anything. She wouldn't listen.

I'm glad I acted the way I did. I want to be the person I am.

Snacks can wait 'till tomorrow. We scheduled extra time.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"I want some garlic butt"

After dealing with Mr. Safety, my day wasn't over yet. Our ride could have been there at 10:50, supposed to be there at 11:07, didn't get there until well after 12.

There's nothing quite like the experience of watching my ride slowly coasting up and down the street, obviously looking for their client. I get out and do my "Taxi! Taxi!" style semaphore wave, and watch dispiritidly as the vehicle I just know is my ride home coasts right on by.

Sometimes, they're that dumb. They can't understand the directions. "Third driveway from X street and Y road." Seems obvious to me. I'm obvious, for God's sakes. But they don't see me and they drive on by.

This happened for about half an hour. I got bit by a fireant. I had idiots who slowed down, thinking I was waving at them. Yeah, that's why I'm not looking at you, stupid. Get out of my line of sight! Ugh. Sadly, that one happens a LOT. I can't believe people like that are driving around. I'm smart enough to know I belong in the metaphorical passenger seat. They don't.

The impregnator is next door. He has a loud stereo and a flashy car. His "girl" runs out of the house, clad in less than a bandana. He just honks at the house and cranks his stereo. She runs out wearing barely anything and jumps in the car. That's why I call him the impregnator. That's all he's interested in. He comes by every week.

If I'm dating a guy, he's got to at least knock on my door. Show some respect! But she allows him to treat her that way. When she gets pregnant, he'll run off. Hence my name for him. Ron says "If he can't build it, he can't play it." I like it.

So, the hysterical cab driver finally finds us. He's almost in tears. I have to calm him down and give very careful directions, literally "Drive to the corner." When we get to the corner "Turn left". We got home and the driver left thinking we're nice people. He sure liked his candy.

We got home. I told Ron, "I'm hungry, let's order that pizza you promised. I want some garlic butt, too." Bread goes right to my butt. Hence the name.

I tried to take a nap after I ate, but was foiled. As I told Ron "It's a happy, screaming herd of children on a bouncy thing. I could sleep until Mr. Homeowner got out the leaf blower." So much for that. I still hear happy screams coming from next door. I'm not a curmudgon, I'm glad they have a loving family. I'm thanking God it didn't happen tomorrow night, when I need to be asleep at 7 PM. EEK.

I did some research. Tomorrow I'm going to play with my instant indigo dye crystals and some homespun yarn. I plan to use 1 t for 1 gallon. I'm overdying some cream/gray/tan wool, and a skein of cream Corriedale.

Hm. If the neighbors have a herd of children visiting, do I have a pride of cats? I like the concept. Do 2 domestic shorthairs count as a pride?

I'll update on the indigo tomorrow after I finish.

Mr. Safety

This morning I woke up queasy. Happily, that's all I had going. No migraine, just queasy. I had some of my vegetable soup and some apple salad (cut up Jonagold, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious apples). I had to eat frequently today because it kept coming back. Hey, I knew when I signed up for Lithium that I could expect nausea.

It was an odd day. Our ride to work was over an hour late, then we had to pick up someone and take her to work at the mall. She was late coming out of her house and had an abrupt attitude. She probably thought she was nice.

Our driver had to get gas, so I got a bag of chips at the convenience store (I was queasy again). He didn't mind me eating it and I was careful not to spill.

When we got to work, we had 30 minutes before our next pickup. I ran around helping Ron (I can't do anything snacky until my order arrives Monday). I was irate to discover that someone had turned off the switch on the surge protector going to snack 4. I suspect it was Bill.

Bill, aka "Mr. Safety" has nothing better to do than to come by every couple months, demand to inspect our machines and stockroom, and try to tell us how to run out business. He has no authority to do so. We have to speak to his boss frequently to clip his wings, and we've told him any "issues" he's got with our equipment need to go to Ron's supervisor, not us.

So what does he do? He doesn't like the location of one of our soda machines. "It looks bad. All the machines should be up against the wall over there."

He moved it on his own. He told his lackeys to get a pallet jack, unplug the machine, and move it. I mentioned before he has no authority to do so. He probably turned off snack 4 because he's never liked it, either. Excuse me. We moved the machines out of the one room because you didn't like it. We moved the machine out of the cafeteria because he didn't like it. We gave up his precious wall space so the various shifts can each have their own huge refrigerator.

Now this impotent weenie wants to tamper with our machines? My machines? I don't care so much about food, coffee, and sodas. They're Ron's babies. But snacks are mine. Just thinking about it gets me rabid.

So Ron called the guy's boss again. "Your employee is tampering with my machines again." He called his boss. The guy totally violated our contract.

Grrr. Ron says if he doesn't get satisfaction he'll turn me loose on the guy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Gifts and Dinosaur Shit

Today Mom sent me an email. She ordered my Christmas present and had it shipped straight to me. Awesome. I'll have Ron hide it in his closet and trot it out on Christmas.

I also got an email from a lady in Canada. I swapped her a book for some leftover yarn scraps (I got the scraps). I'm happy. The book cost a lot of money so I wanted it to go to someone who'll use it. God knows that person never would have been me. I also sent her some hot sauce from Louisiana. Hey, I doubt she can get Lousiana Gold in Alberta. She sent me an email. Thanked me, she loves hot sauce, can't wait to get into the sauce and the book. Yay.

I love handing out driver candy, too. I've been known to give a headache remedy or two as well.

I left Ron a piece of candy on his pillow. Luckily it was wrapped. When he's home, he's probably lying down. He laid down on the piece of candy and melted it. He put it in the fridge, I'll put a nice piece in there too. I love to spoil him in little ways.

This year I'll probably make most of my gifts. One gift I'll have made for someone. But it's handcrafted. Everyone else, homemade. My homemade gifts have always been well received.

One thing I won't be making this year are knitted slippers. I can't stand the thought of someone getting up to use the bathroom and slipping in the slippers. "Heather, I broke my arm because of your slippers." No thanks. I really considered it, though.

The only thing I have to make in fairly short order is a hat for my newborn nephew. Baby hats work up fast, though.

I'm not sure what I want myself this year. I think I'll ask Ron for an affordable spindle (about $20). I have loads of fiber, dyestuff, and all kinds of knitting needles to play with. Fun. I also have crochet hooks, stitch dictionaries, and vintage pattern books. Heck, I even have some old macrame books.

So Ron gets me a spindle, probably. He won't have a long list this year. I generally get Ron warm things. I might get him some washable wool socks. I know, "boring".

I don't want jewelry. I don't want expensive electronics. Ron was delighted when we went to Sam's Club. We had lots of time. We decided to look at electronics. I was happy to see a 20-26 inch HDTV. I don't want a big one. A smallish one is fine. I'm the only one watching it, anyway. We're getting that for my birthday next year ("They'll be cheaper by then, too, Ron.")

Ron always called diamonds and jewelry "dinosaur shit" because it's just carbon, basically. My engagement ring would probably cost about one mortgage payment to replace. I love it and I love what it represents. I don't need anything else. My watch works fine and I don't like earrings. Besides, I can't really see myself wearing a "rock" while taking out the dumpster.

If I can't eat it out of a can...

Wednesday we had off, so I went to Walmart. I wanted more, safe, vegetable soup. I've mentioned how much I love vegetable soup.

Well, no matter the brand, they all pretty much have MSG. Forget that.

But I love vegetable soup. Virtually everything I eat is processed food, I need my veggies.

How-ev-er.... I noticed Walmart stocked the Kitchen Basics stock. It is the best stock ever. I've made my own stock. Generally I used 1 pound of bony meat cuts per quart of water, chopped veggies, simmer forever, strain. Deal with yucky mess in the garbage can. Wash yucky stockpot. Carefully ladle up the bowls of stock. Freeze. Now I have virtually no freezer space. When I want stock, take it out and thaw. Not fun.

Kitchen Basics is better than my homemade stock. It's available in 1 quart tetra-pack bricks. I can stick it on a shelf in the cupboard until I want it, then rip off the tab and use it. And it has no additives. It's just meat and vegetable stock. No MSG. I got a couple of boxes.

Walmart has a decent selection of organic produce. I got some vegetable soup fixin's, paid up, and left.

I wanted something more though, so when Ron went to Starbucks later I tagged along. His Starbucks is within walking distance of a Randall's, arguably the "nicest" grocery story I've shopped in Houston. They had Jonagold apples (drool), delicious organic yogurt (no additives), and some other delicious organic tetra-pack stocks.

I won't lie. The first batch of vegetable soup was a major disappointment. I used too much seasoning blend (onions, celery, and a small amount of peppers, it's chopped and frozen). Too much pepper, too. I grimly ate the first bowl but I didn't like it.

Thursday I got smart. Why keep it around and make myself miserable? I threw it out and made a second batch. Here goes:
Heather's Vegetable Soup
Try to use as many organic ingredients as you can.
1/2 cup seasoning blend (a blend of chopped onions, celery and peppers)
1 quart organic stock (it doesn't matter if it's vegetable, chicken, or beef)
1/2 T salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 t chopped garlic
3/8 or 1/4 cup pearled barley (I like a lot of barley in my soup)
1/4 c lentils
1/4 small potato, diced (you can skip the potato if you want)
1/2 celery stalk, sliced
1/2 large carrot, sliced

Combine stock and spices in a 2+ quart stockpan. Bring to a simmer, add everything and stir. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, then add:
1 handful chopped green beans (grab a handful fresh green beans, then chop and add)
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
(You could also add a cup or so of chopped organic greens, which I plan to do next time)
1/3 can diced tomatoes
I love salty food, so I'd add another 1/4 t salt but that's me.

Simmer 20 additional minutes, stir and serve!

I had one bowl to eat then, plus over 4 additional servings. It's got lots of good things and I look forward to eating it every day.

A whinier post than I expected

I've come to realize I love to take a day off and make several blog entries. Rather, on my day off of work, I'll watch Sci-fi movies, snack, and make blog entries. A couple days later, repeat.

For the people out there who envy my part-time schedule, I'll hasten remind you of my migraines, inability to drive due to brain damage, inability to do a lot of "fun" things because I get overstimulated and freak out (also due to brain damage), bipolar disorder (severe with nasty psychotic features), and constant nausea/grogginess/foggy thinking due to the medication I take for the bipolar disorder.

And who can forget the migraines? The can of Progresso Vegetable soup looked so enticing. I love a good veggie soup. I already mentioned the nausea. It's a sad statement on my illness that even with the side effects, my life is truly so much better than it was before. Eeek.

Anyway, I ate it. It was tasty and delicious, and helped with the nausea (small snack-meals several times a day seem to work best). I thought nothing of it, not even later.

The pain began as a boring sensation in my temple. Only one temple, which bodes badly. I have migraine headaches in degrees - some of them are just nasy, persistent headaches. The worst ones are prostrate, "Please God kill me now" gripping agony vomiting miseries. Yeah. Good description.

I went to bed. Monday we had to work, and I hoped/prayed it would vanish overnight. Hey, it happens sometimes. No. The worst part of Monday morning was telling Ron I had the migraine. He got upset, but not at me. The only "new" thing I'd eaten was a can of vegetable soup.

I took some tylenol (I wasn't too queasy yet), got my barf bucket (Ron's term), and went to work. On the way to work we got stuck in some traffic (some car had run into the guy who sells newspapers on the corner, but it didn't look too awful for the newspaper guy). While inching along in traffic I almost threw up.

But you know what I like about me? I still remembered to bring the driver a baggie of candy. I'm still doing the driver candy. In fact, when I put it on my Walmart list I write "Driver candy" I can't eat it (chocolate, food dyes, and nuts give me migraines), but they can and do. They love getting the candy. Sometimes the poor things don't believe it's for them, or they take out one piece and try to give it back. I put maybe 1-2 handfuls of mixed chocolate and hard candies, it's nice but not overwhelming. Anyway, they love it. I keep it in a bag by the door so Ron can take one bag for each trip if he's going somewhere on his own. Today I'm doing some assorted Christmas chocolates (you know the kind with PB chocolates, crispy chocolate, assorments?), little Snickers bars, various hard candies, and a candy cane (Cherry flavor). I made up about 15 bags, I need to get more candy canes next week so I can make more.

Work Monday was not fun. The hellish thing (migraine, not work - I enjoy work) persisted into Tuesday. Thank God it finally died right before I went out on the noisy loading dock. Eeek.

Now I've learned a hard lesson. [Female reproductive organ talk ahead]

I get migraines generally in the week before my period. It's called a menstrual migraine. If I eat a trigger (say peanut M&Ms - with chocolate, nuts, and food dye), I will get a migraine.

Now I can add MSG to the list. I read the label.

AAAAAGH. Totally preventable.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I said NO!

First of all, I love men. I married a man who respects me and values me. If he died, I'd marry again eventually. I don't believe that one sex is out to get the other, either.

We as a society are taught lessons every day in our media. Here's an example. I'm watching a movie.

A group of people are flying on a plane. A man is sitting next to a moderately attractive woman. I'm going to put the "real" dialogue, then I'll put my optional, alternate "transaction". The woman is reading a book. It starts when he leans over her shoulder and asks a question.
M: Is it a good book?
W: Yes. [she pulls the book higher up to shut him out]
M: On vacation?
W: Yes [she turns a page in her book]
M: So, what do you do? I'm a lawyer. [He presses a business card into her hand, which she reluctantly accepts.]
W: I'm a nurse.
M: Wow, that's philantropic. [the stewardess comes by with the beverage cart and asks if he'd like to order.] Yes, I would. Give me a vodka tonic, and one for the lady, please.
W: I don't want a drink.
M: I insist. [The stewardess gives him two drinks. He holds one out to her, which she accepts.]

Now, what has that man learned? First of all, it confirms the "Women don't know what they want, or pursuasion will get you anywhere." He continually violated her boundaries, and she allowed him to. She said no, but she didn't mean it. What does that mean? When she says no to sex, she doesn't mean it either?

Gavin de Becker goes into this very topic in The Gift of Fear. It's an excellent book and I recommend everyone read it.

Now, let's look at an alternate responses:
M: Is it a good book?
Anwer one W: [playfully] I'd like to find out, if you'll let me read it.
She can tell him she's not in the mood to talk, and refuse to answer questions.
When he offers her a business card, she can decline it. "I don't need a lawyer today, thanks." She doesn't have to tell him her profession, or the fact that she's on vacation. He's the one being rude.
When the stewardess comes by, she can ask for another seat.
When she says no to the drink she can refuse it when he offers it to her. "I said no."

What's the worst he can do? Get offended and maybe call her a name. But the worst thing a woman can do, in a situation like that, with a creep, is to "Be polite".

The media continually teaches us that it's wrong for a woman to assert herself and refuse a man's attentions. If she does, she's a bitch. She should give him a chance to persuade her, to persistently get what he wants from her.

But we have a total right to say no, mean it, and end the conversation. It's better to be a "bitch" than a victim.

Consolation

Ron needs to realize, not everyone is consoled by his "Don't worry, the end of the world is coming soon" speech.  Agh.