Monday, March 30, 2009

Things I love to do.

I've been getting my ass kicked by this depression. Obviously, I've taken my illness for granted. Depressions always last two weeks, they have for years, haven't they? No. This one is going on 3 weeks.

One important thing is the things I love to do inventory. So, what do I love to do? Time to make a list, and get working on it, so I don't get flogged with this illness. I detest the image of Heather-as-victim-helpless-against-the-persecuting-illness. GACK. I want to be more like Sarah Conner in Terminator 2, kicking ass and taking names.

  • Knitting. Today I bought a squishee ball to use while I knit, exercising my hands so I can continue to knit.
  • Gardening. I took a plastic chair out back so I can enjoy the garden. I've also built a little Frosty memorial garden with white flowers and fragrant herbs. He'd love to lie on the plants and dig up my mulch, and urinate on a violet or two. I see it everytime I leave the house or come home.
  • Being outside. Thankfully I spend a fair amount of time outside every day.
  • Talking to family - I need to do more.
  • Listening to my tunes. If I can't find my player, Ron's going to buy me a new one for $20.
  • Time with the cat - he's not a cuddler, it's not happening. I am "treating" the neighbor's dog, and getting lickings in return. Not a bad deal.
  • Rose-scented bubble bath. Love the stuff, don't do it often enough (yesterday I did)
  • Using a really nice soap in the shower - showering is always difficult for me, for some reason, when I'm depressed. I have to force myself into it, literally. I bought a really nice bar of Dr Bronners rose soap - it's lovely and makes my shower nicer.
  • Days out - where I ride the bus around and have fun little shopping adventures - doing well with them, except for the migraine during Saturday's. I have a hard time figuring out where I want to go, damn this depression.
  • Zombie movies. I need to get the Resident Evil Trilogy, for instance, the next time I go to Walmart. I love zombie movies. Why don't I own any? That is just WRONG.
  • Cooking. I made some gumbo Ron liked and he helped with the cleanup. I also got the benefit of watching him enjoy his food for a change.

Normally I'd be self-medicating with sugar and making a bad situation worse. I'm not doing that. I'm just tired and I need to be careful I don't fall into the whole hopelessness trap. Ick.

Trying to carry the world on my back

I'm going to complain, damnit. I just realized that in many ways, I have a lousy life. My husband is practically bed-bound at home. When we go out, he can't walk more than a few hundred yards, or stand more than a few minutes at a time. All due to the damned nerve disease that no one knows how he got.

Today I was told "Peripheral Neuropathy as an allergic response to Bactrim? That's very rare." Thanks. I needed to hear that. My husband is so special, and we've pissed God off so much, that He had to smite my long-suffering husband with ANOTHER disability. It was lots of fun, helping him wash up this morning and hearing him scream as I gently wiped his arm with a washcloth. It was even more fun to hear the doctor comment on the extensive nerve damage in his right arm. Yeah, we NOTICED thanks. I hate it. I can't even touch him without being exceptionally careful. He coughs a lot, a side effect from the medication that helps with his newest disability, and people want to slap him on the back, which hurts him even more.

As I go places, my decrepit husband tottering along, clutching my arm like a lifeline, I get sympathetic looks. EVERYONE, even the worst thug, holds a door open for us. I have a hard time processing the spatial data and sometimes I bump him into things. Not fun.

He's only 54! It's not fair. The best years of his life, I was sick with undiagnosed, unmedicated bipolar disorder. I finally get fixed and how he's circling the drain? Cruel.

I can't even find my MP3 player. Why? Last week, battling a crushing depression, because my CAT DIED, I upped my lithium dosage. There goes the short term memory. It's a miracle I locked all the vending machines. Somehow along the way, I misplaced my tunes, God only knows where. It doesn't seem like much but I'd like my music! I do an awful lot of waiting on public transit because neither of us can drive, and I'd like some music while I'm waiting!

You think God could help me out with that... most of my music is Christian heavy metal. But no.. just another load to carry.

Some days it's very hard to be me. I wake up with nightmares every night - a side effect of my illness. Today during my nap I had a horrible dream, where I knew I was dying and pieces of my tongue were falling off, and I sadly told Ron "Chapter 15" - meaning I knew we were going to die. Ugh. But I'm plagued with fatigue because I take my pills so I can be a functioning member of society and I need my nap every day, plus at least 8 hours every night, even though that comes with the attendant nightmares and weird dreams.

So I got up this morning, helped my husband wash up, uncovered my plants, ate, took my pills, and took him to the doctor. I helped him into the building and he sat down. I ran over to a medical supply store because I wanted a squishy ball so MY hand doesn't go out. Typing, blogging, and knitting are not kind to my thumb tendon. It gets cranky. Anyway, I got the thing and came back.

Then I got to watch the doctor shock and stick Ron with electrified needles, and hear he has nerve damage from the peripheral nerve disease, damage from the accident, AND a bad carpal tunnel. We had to race out of the office and catch our ride, and ride with a guy on dialysis. I do count my blessings.

We came home and I got Ron some music. Then the next ride came and took us out to eat. Lunch was great, very nice. It was fun to see Ron enjoy his food for a change. He even ate a bite of steak without gagging.

We had to wait an hour after we finished, luckily the restaurant was quiet and they didn't care. I did some knitting, talked to the waitress and Ron. Came home, immediate nap time.

The nightmares I already mentioned, woke me up. Too tired to cook, didn't even want to heat up my pot roast. I ended up making a protein shake. It will hold the lithium I had to take and won't mess up my eating plan.

Then laundry, had to do laundry, sort wash dry hang. Still doing that. I can't have Ron looking ragged or dirty, people will talk and it won't be kind. Pick up watch a show do some knitting. Where are my tunes? Gotta get up early take a shower tonight let my hair dry and what about the bedding? Gotta wash that, but not tonight? Tomorrow or hell with it? Ugh.

I'm not the only woman in the world with bipolar disorder, mixed episodes, rapid cycling, psychotic features. I'm not the only woman in the world with my form of bipolar AND Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I'm not even the only woman in the world with Bipolar, FAS, and a physically disabled husband. I'm not the only one with all that who's also battling what wants to be either a horrible depression or mixed episode. Or the only one with all that who's Baby Kitten just died. Running a business. Taking care of a home.

But, God, it's hard. See, it's like those old puzzles, the answer is in the question. God. I sound like one of those psalms where the writer starts out bitching at God and ends up praising him. I'm not at that point.

I'm angry. I'm more than a little bitter. Why us? Huh? I do a lot of witnessing and I make it look easy to carry my load, most of the time. I think of a line from one of my favorite songs, now MISSING because my player is missing (I have backup, so I can get a new player and transfer them, worst case).

You always say you wanna follow me
But when I call you're never around
Talk is cheap it's time for action
This time I'm gonna pin you down
I wanna see your faith on the line
You've got to take it to the limit'
Cause my love is all you need
Take it to the limit
And by my side you'll always be
I could provide everything you lack
But you keep tryin' to carry the world on your back
I wanna see your faith on the line
You've got to take it to the limit
'Cause my love is all you need
Take it to the limit
And by my side you'll always be.
You talk in circles
But you can't see
You'll find your freedom
When you start trustin' in Me
I wanna see your faith on the line
You've got to take it to the limit
'Cause my love is all you need
Take it to the limit
And by my side you'll always be
- Take it to the Limit by Whitecross

I guess you could say the good thing about my life, and I've said this repeatedly, with the load I've got to carry, I have to believe in Jesus. I have to believe that it's making me stronger, developing my faith, and that my faith, my love, my life is valued by God himself. He needs me just the way I am. Sometimes I have the feeling I actually volunteered for this life!

I have a special assignment, Heather. It won't be easy but I know you can handle it. We're going to start with prenatal brain damage...

But when I look at my husband, or where my cat used to sleep, I just want to cry.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Hustle: a. To sell or get by questionable or aggressive means: hustled stolen watches; hustling spare change.
b. To pressure into buying or doing something: a barfly hustling the other customers for drinks.

Today I met a hustler. He rides Metrolift, a client, not a driver. I didn't like him even before he started "pitching" and obviously trying to pry "contacts" out of us.

It started off with aggressive calls to Metrolift, where are you, how far away. When we pulled up, he demanded to know how long he'd be riding. If I had animations in here, this is where I'd paste the one that's laughing hysterically, because if you want to know how long you'll be riding then you should have called yourself a cab. Looking back, I'm pleased to state he had a LONG ride (I spied on the computer console).

I found him equal parts amusing and annoying. Like Ron says "If you want a straight trip, or expect one, you must be a new client. The veterans know they'll be riding."

Some clients are incredibly rude. They want to know every detail of our business, which is just that, our business. Ron doesn't care, he'll answer some very intrustive questions (How long do you work, what's in the building, how many machines do you have, how did you get the vending machines and the vending contract, are you hiring, etc.) Yes, we're going to hire a 400 pound woman using oxygen, who has to use a power wheelchair, to fill vending machines. And yes, she was asking FOR HERSELF. If not that, then they want to know "How do I get on at the Post Office" - which isn't hiring! About the only one he doesn't answer is "How much do you make" to which we reply "enough" or "A lot less than we used to".

Some drivers even assume we make thousands of dollars a month [another hysterical laughter animation]. A question, if we made all that money, and neither of us could drive, why in GOD'S NAME would we be riding around on Metrolift? We'd have a driver or call cabs.

So, back to the hustler. The last time we rode with him he asked most of the questions quoted above, and was so rude that even Ron shut him down. I'll tell you all about my bipolar disorder, brain damage, and medication, but don't get into my business.

Oh, he had this special bottled water. We should sell it. It was such a good deal. No thanks. He agressively continued to push it and asked for our cellphone numbers, or gave us his, I forget. We said no.

Today, as soon as he got in the cab, it was the same old routine. Oh, the vendors. Today he pumped us for "contacts". He wanted the name of our electrician (mentioned in passing), but somehow I couldn't remember it. We did give him the number of our computer guy. He called and left a message implying, "I'm with Ron, I want the same deal he gets". [this is where I'd insert another laughing hysterically animation] Sure, same deal he gives everyone. $80 flat, plus parts and extra labor depending. It always costs me $80 minimum for computer work but he does good work.

I don't mind business. I don't mind good business at all. If I am working on a machine, and someone's standing in front of a vending machine, rotating it with a "Come on" expression, I'm going to find out what they want and if possible get it for them. If someone's in front of a snack machine, with an indecisive expression, I might suggest something. If someone needs change, they get it, with a smile. Everyone gets a sincere smile and a greeting, because I know they are favoring us with their business. I am honored they came by, and it shows.

I don't hustle. Hustlers disgust me. Revolt me. If you have a good product or service it will sell itself. Your job is to provide excellent customer service and good options for the customer. If they don't want something, fine.

I see a lot of take out bags and home-packed lunches walk past my vending machines. I don't take it personally. Sooner or later they'll want some peanuts or those hot chips I sell. I've got excellent merchandise and excellent service.

My merchandise, as a result, literally sells itself. Yeah, sales suck. I've gone from stocking my snack machines nearly every day, to twice a week.

But when they walk in my area, I'm smiling and the machines are full of tasty foods. I don't need to hustle, I'm a professional.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lizard Season

I will always miss my cat. I wish I had known how little time we had, I would have spent more time with him. A couple hours a day, in retrospect, doesn't seem like enough time.

[sigh] Even coming to terms with my husband's permanent disability (twice) was an easier process. I wonder what that says about my love for them both.

In 2003, I had to come to terms with losing my birth mother, losing my beloved grandmother, nearly losing my husband, major employment changes (laid off), full time caregiver 24/7, health crises, etc. I tended to respond with manias, amping up my energy level and interest in various projects. Those who saw me in 2003 probably remember me crocheting an afghan, for instance. Everyone got an afghan in 2003.

In late 2003, I had to come to terms with the fact that my husband would most likely use a wheelchair, every time he left the house, for the rest of his life. We'd never go hiking again, or walk 12 miles in one day to get out of a flooded area. Last year, I had to come to terms with the fact that, due to the allergic reaction to an antibiotic, I'd never be able to casually pat him on the shoulder or rub his back. The sensation of touch is now painful to him. He spends all his time at home in bed. Walking hurts, he can barely get to the bathroom. All this and a hurricane too. I responded with a moderate depression and then the usual mania.

This year, I lost my precious Frosty. The depression follows me around like a bully, beating me up and stealing my joy. Fun in the garden, forget it! Instead, I find myself castigating myself for turning the hose on Frosty for urinating on my chard. He loved to pee on my plants; empty areas of the garden held no interest. I was always shooting him with the hose and yelling at him for damaging my plants.

My "Husky Red Cherry" for instance, the cat just loved to bury it in mulch. I'd find a few leaves poking out of the mulch, gasping for breath. He dug up my scarlet runner bean seeds and moved them halfway across the garden bed. He urinated on my lemon balm so often it sports permanent brown stains on the leaves (cat urine is very concentrated, and will burn plants).

The day started out well, I had fun planning where to plant the eggplant and peppers. I debated about planting a Mexican Heather, but decided the available space wouldn't work for it. I'd rather allocate more space to a plant than have it miserable and crowded. Crowding plants is a great way to get bugs and disease.

I planted the eggplant and a pepper. I gave treats to delighted neighbor dogs and got "lickings" in return. I did some weeding and mulching. Along came the depression, a tsunami wave of despair. Horrible. As it crashed over me, I fled inside and took a quick-release lithium (most of my medication is slower release, but I need some fast). I'm eating bacon and cheese, a favorite snack and one that "holds" the lithium well.

As I came in, I saw a lizard. I know Frosty knows I miss him, and I think they're his message.

Frosty loved to bring me lizards. I've spent hours scooping up terrified lizards and transporting them outside. He'd drop the lizard proudly at my feet, like a dog, and I'd engage in another round of "reptile roundup" - transporting the poor creature outside. He brought me snakes, too, but they don't bother me.

The weather's warm, it's lizard season, but I've seen an unseasonable amount of lizards in the last few days. They're on the fence. They're in my garden. They're on my posts in the garden, they're on the bars of my door, and they all pause and make sure I notice them. They sit there, watching me with their beady eyes, and move on when I do.

I will always miss my cat, but I'm glad he's in a better place.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happily Oblivious

When I was a little girl, my Daddy worked "For the Government". He worked downtown in a big building, for a well known "acronym". Dad could never tell me what it is he did, where he went on his "business trips" and I only saw his office once.

That was fine. I was just happy to have a Daddy who loved me. I was also happy in my nice house in the nice suburb, attending the top-notch elementary school and eating all I wanted every day.

Later on, after he switched careers, I figured out his first job. Interesting, I thought. My cousins couldn't believe my dad worked for The Acronym, when the topic came up at a family meal. When discussing a current event, he mentioned being "out of the loop" and I laughed to myself. We both knew that at one point, he'd been in the loop.

He enjoyed his job and I'm sure he did quite a bit for our country. Go, Dad!

The show "24" is coming on, but I'm not interested. I am certain the United States faces horrible threats every day. All kinds of biological, chemical, crazy threats. I am certain we are under threat, every minute of every day. I don't know about any of them and I couldn't be happier about it.

I can't imagine anything worse than going through my days knowing of all the threats to our national security - I imagine those "fellows" don't get much sleep at all. How awful to know that something is "going down" and trying to stop it, knowing if you screw up, you'll have dead citizens on your conscience.

Sometimes the idiots do themselves in - I recall a case that happened near Houston, where some home-grown idiot wannabe terrorists blew themselves up trying to mix up a liquid explosive in their rented apartment. Fortunately, only the two involved were injured, both badly burned, one died. That's why we have the liquid restrictions on the airlines these days.

We (not just Americans) face all kinds of terrible threats every day. You never know if the guy coughing next to you at the grocery store has been infected with a superbug, or if you'll be the victim of a dirty bomb when you go downtown. Hell, there's always the disgrunted former employee with multiple guns and a grudge list, who wants to go out in a blaze of glory!

I could have lost my father to the last, but he was meeting with my therapist about my depression. Thanks, Lord. I've never questioned why I had my illness since I figured that out.

Some people obsess about what the government might be keeping from them. Well, I'm here to tell those in all those black ops programs: You're right. I am an American Citizen, and I don't want to know. Keep dealing with the issues, as you've been, quietly and efficiently.

I don't want to know that some whack job almost released a toxin, or a superbug. No, thank you. I want to live my days in happy oblivion, thinking I'm safe.

And if something gets past you, it's OK. I'm saved, I know where I'm going when I die and it's a lot better than anything here on Earth!

Thanks, for doing a great job. You make our lives better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just for fun...

Two photos of the same garden bed, taken a few weeks apart.

I've been working on my knitting...

And spoiling Bubba rotten. He's assumed a lot of Frosty's cuddle duties. :)

Just for fun, today, I'll put up some photos from my Album. You can double-click on the photo to make it bigger and read the captions.

I hope you enjoy the photos. I had fun taking them. The afghan in the Bubba photo was my design, the colors and the stitch pattern. I crocheted it about 15 years ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Missing Frosty

I miss my baby; and I'm battling a depression. It didn't take an expert for me to realize, once I heard the words "Kidney failure" that it would probably be an EXCELLENT idea to increase my lithium. I did and have continued with my 3-a-day dosage.

I'm taking all my supplements:
B-100 with Inositol - a good anti-depression bipolar vitamin
Vitamin E
Milk Thistle (good for the old liver)
Mixed Minerals
Olive Leaf (for the immune system)

I'm forcing myself to do things I enjoy, even though they break my heart. I have a lot of Frosty-in-the-garden memories. He particularly loved to pee on the plants in garden bed 4, and eat the heads off my marigolds.

My other cat is picking up a lot of slack, he cuddles with me at night, and comes and sits on my feet in the morning as I watch the news. I know he loves me, Bubba's a good boy.

But he isn't Frosty. I bought him some canned food in his favorite flavor - beef. He loves it, I'll have to get him some more. They don't have any pork chop flavored cat food for some reason. I guess I'll have to buy him one the next time I go to Foodtown.

Even the knitting is hard. Frosty loved to leap into my lap and lie on my knitting. I couldn't turn my work with a plump kitty in my lap, so it would lie idle as he purred.

As I stagger through the day, highly medicated and in a fog of depression, it's hard to keep track of things. I know my pain will dim with time. I'll get used to missing Frosty.

I won't expect him anymore, and the sight of white cat hair, the last cat hair, on the sofa won't bother me. I'll be able to lint-roll the last evidence of him right out of my life.

I have no desire to do it, but I'll take a bath today. Ron would tease me and pinch his nose, saying "You need it!". Frosty might have come and put his paws in the edge of the tub, trying to figure out the appeal of a bathtub.

It's a long road.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm going to miss you.

Frosty. He came into my life right after we bought the house. Baby Girl had just died. She was poisoned by former "neighbors" in my old area - a terrible area.

One night, Bubba hollered at the door. I opened it. He'd brought a friend home. A friend, who by the looks of things, was homeless. His fur was coming out in patches, he had deep abrasions on his neck from scratching at his ears, which were a mess from ear mites. He was a wreck.

Even so, he ran in terror from Heather-with-a-can-of-tuna. It took a good month to convince him we were OK, and that petting was an enjoyable activity. He used to flinch every time I'd stroke his patchy fur, as he gobbled down his cat food.

Eventually, we persuaded him into the house. After a few weeks of hiding under the bed, he decided he liked living in the house. He and Bubba always got on amazingly well. I used to tease Bubba and tell him he could pick out all my cats from now on.

Little did we know, at the time, Frosty was already an old man. He'd get into mischief with Bubba, bringing in LIVE things through the pet door, wrestling with his brother, and playing pounce-and-chase outside in the morning as we left for work.

In the meantime, I was in very bad shape. My undiagnosed bipolar disorder was out of control. I was battling suicidal depressions and terrifying manias - complete with hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Neither one bothered Frosty one bit, who'd clamber up in my lap like you see above. He'd just climb in, knead me for a bit, and fall asleep.

One night, as I seriously contemplated suicide, he climbed up, into my lap, and put his front paws on my left shoulder. He laid his head against my cheek and purred gently. I sobbed and sobbed as I stroked him.

Somehow, Frosty had a way of making it all better, no matter what. I used to tell myself that no, I couldn't commit suicide. What would happen to Frosty? He'd be screwed. I couldn't hurt him like that. I had to drag myself through one more hour, one more day, for Frosty if not for myself. Somehow, I'd make it, my little "Precious" purring away in my bed, in my lap, by my side.

He loved his Daddy, too. You can see Frosty curled up in Daddy's armpit as he worked on the computer. See, Ron was already a mess when Frosty came to live with us. He is completely blind, and he's got hemiparesis due to a head injury and stroke. Ron can barely get to the bathroom on his own, and at work he uses a wheelchair.
Last year, things got even worse. Ron had a violent allergic reaction to an antibiotic. By now, my bipolar disorder had been diagnosed and pretty well controlled with medication. Ron suffers from agonizing nerve pain, tingling, sensitivity to touch, everything tasted bad.. his life was hell.
That's when Frosty began appearing by Ron's pillow. One night he woke me up, delighted. "Heather, he's snoring!" I laughed with Ron as we listened to Frosty's gentle snores. Frosty loved to sleep by Ron's pillow at night (when Ron was awake) and then move over to my pillow in the morning. He'd nap with me in the afternoons and come visit in my lap for a few hours in the evening. I'd thank him for his attention and stroke him gently.
He loved to lay on my knitting, effectively bringing progress to a halt. Usually, I'd let him get away with it.
I had no idea he was such an old man. I'm ashamed to admit if I'd known he was 8+ years old, I'd have never considered adopting him back in 2004. I'm glad I didn't know, because I would have cheated myself out of the best cat, ever. He was perfect for us, very sensitive and loving. He knew when we needed him.
Ron is teasing me now, Bubba's six years old and next year he'll be a "senior". "You're running Heather's Home for the Aged." I'm glad I did.
I will definitely strongly consider adopting another older cat. If it's half as wonderful as Frosty, it'll be the best thing I ever did.
It's not loving him that hurt. It's losing Frosty's love that hurts. I loved him the most of any cat I'd ever had, and I know he's happy now.
I am glad that God made it so very clear that it was Frosty's time. I'm glad it was old age; and nothing I could have prevented or treated had I had more money.
I'm so very glad I knew him. He was a gift from God.

A letter to the animal hospital that cared for Frosty

Dr Jewell,
I've loved cats since I was a baby. 5 years ago, my cat Bubba brought home a stray friend to live with us. Frosty was an adult male, undetermined age, and very cuddly. He was our baby.

He became very ill this weekend and I brought him in on Sunday morning, around 10. Everyone was incredibly kind and sensitive, and they treated his case as a serious emergency.

Dr Brunio contacted us and let us know that Frosty was beyond saving, that he was very elderly (a surprise) and beyond saving. It was obvious to both my husband and myself that Dr Brunio cared deeply for both pets and their humans, he was very compassionate and sensitive.

We made the choice to be present when Frosty was put down, and I was so glad I went to your clinic. When I brought him in, Frosty was suffering and miserable. The last time I saw him, he was resting comfortably and happy to see us. His tail flicked happily as we petted him and said our goodbyes.

Dr Brunio was very kind and compassionate during the procedure, and kindly let us know when Frosty was "gone". He showed me the results that indicated Frosty could not survive the crisis, and offered to contact our vet. Frosty did not suffer at all and I feel very glad I brought him to your clinic.

Our case did not have the conventional "Happy Ending" but we are both so glad we took our baby to your facility. No one could have given him better care, he was treated with respect, kindness, compassion, and dignity. Your staff took little steps to ensure his comfort, and to care for us as well as our cat.

I will be telling all my friends about your facility, and have posted at least one positive online review. If my other cat ever has a health crisis, I feel confident taking him to you.

Thank you for having such a wonderful staff.

With Gratitude,
Heather and Ron B.

(We took him to the Animal Emergency Clinic on 249)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I always ask God for help in my life, and I always ask him to make His will obvious to me,through signs the size of billboards. Today I got a billboard.

Frosty is dead. He was sick yesterday, and worse today. I took him into the vet, they took him and sent me home. Ron called to check up on Frosty and they told us the bad news. Here's the billboard: kidney and liver failure, major systemic infection, no hope of survival. Pretty obvious.

We only had one question, could we come in to say goodbye? We called yet another cab, and went to the clinic. We went into a small, quiet room. Frosty was resting comfortably on the table, with his front paws tucked underneath him. An IV port stuck out of a back leg.

We said our goodbyes, and I got my last petting and kisses. He flicked just the tip of his tail, like he does when he's in my lap. I stroked him gently as the shots were administed, and he was gone.

Fortunately for us, our job was obvious. The vet guesstimated Frosty at about 13 years old. That means he was an old man of 8 when he came to live with us.

When we first met him, Bubba had brought him home. Frosty was completely unsocialized and ran away from me as I brought him a can of tuna. It took a month or so to teach him that we were "cool", that petting was fun, and the interior of a home had delicious climate control!

We spoiled him rotten. Daddy ordered him special grain-free treats off the internet. Mommy bought him Wellness Core cat food, also grain free and over $4 a pound. MY food doesn't cost that much. He had soft laps, warm beds, wonderful spots all over the house, cat doors, open windows, a garden, and loving family to indulge his every whim.

I knew he was sick when he stopped begging for cat treats. I hoped, as everyone does, that whatever was wrong could be fixed. However, he was so miserable this morning I knew he needed help.

The vet was wonderfully compassionate and merciful. Frosty's passing was very peaceful and pain-free.

I had my hysterics at home when Ron repeated the words "Kidney failure" while talking to the vet. I've cried quietly, off and on today.

God, I miss that cat. Bubba's a wonderful boy but he'll never be my lap baby like Frosty. Maybe he'll bring me another cat someday.

If I can trust God with the care of my soul, I can certainly trust him with the soul of my cat. I know he's in heaven right now, eating his way through a mountain of cat treats, while my deceased mother and grandmothers spoil him.

I still miss him, but I have no doubts that he needed to be euthanized. - Link to Frosty photos slideshow

Saturday, March 7, 2009


It took me a little while to figure out I'm mixed today - up and down at the same time. The treatment is the same - more lithium, regardless.

I'm going to take a nap, even though it's early, and let the lithium do it's thing. I ate a good, nurturing meal - sausage patties with grated cheese, green beans with butter, and my favorite diet soda. It's a beautiful day, later on I'll go outside and have fun in the garden.

I've gotten a lot accomplished today in spite of my illness. What made me realize I was mixed? I read a post where a woman talked about "I used to be depressed but I fixed it by eating low-carb".

It made me feel inadequate. Here I am, and I have to take a handful of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics every day. I guess she's "better" than me.

No, my illness is more severe. Eating carbs can make average people depressed, maybe she was simply average. You know my opinions on trying to manage severe mental illness with dietary regulation - it simply doesn't work.

I tried all the holistic, cute and cuddly remedies for my illness for years, and did some damage to myself in the process. I suffered far more than I needed to.

I don't like being dependent on the pills, but I accept it. I may always be sensitive about people who say stupid shit like "Fast and pray" or "You don't want God to take it from you" and "I can control it with diet". I am. I tend to feel inadequate, having brain damage and mental illness on top of it. I make it look easy, Ron said.

Sometimes I think that's part of the problem, I don't often show my scars, so people assume it just isn't that bad. Nothing's farther from the truth.

Maybe I need to be more vulnerable - I tend to really isolate myself.

I'm never like this

I'm very glad I have my blog. When something weighs on me, I can come here and type it all out.

Today I really have a glimpse of "normal" - what normal would be for me, if I didn't have my disabilities. I woke up at a reasonable hour. I had lots of energy, because I'm still slightly manic. I ate a good breakfast and took my pills (even if I were "normal", I'd still take supplements). The sink was full of dirty dishes. I started working on them, then I cleaned out the fridge. As I was pouring some leftovers into my trash bag, icky meat juice splashed on my shorts and the floor. Looks like I need to mop and do laundry!

I went around the house, picking up dirty clothes. I sorted them and started a load, then I swept the tile floors and mopped them. I poured the mop water into the toilet and got the toilet cleanser started (I like to let it "cook" for a bit before scrubbing, even though the toilet isn't bad). I opened the windows to let in fresh air.

The house is filled with the scent of citrus cleanser, the sinks are empty, and the floors look great. I don't have any wierd leftovers in the fridge. Later, I'll cook up the meat I bought yesterday.

It was obvious to me - what items needed tasking, and what didn't. "Normally" I don't even think about it, literally, until dirty dishes are on the verge of falling out of the sink and I've got new life forms in my toilet bowl. Today it was all so clear, and so easy to do. Normally, it feels like climbing a mountain.

I'm never like this. Never. It makes me sad today. This is what my husband talks about wistfully when he says "I knew you were messy when I married you".

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why are we so easy on drunk drivers?

If your city is anything like mine, you can discover something horrifying by going to your local news site. Type in "DUI" "Drunk Driver" or "Driving drunk".

If it's anything like the Houston Chronicle website, you will discover a horrible litany of slap-on-the-wrist punishment, repeat offenders, permanent disabilities, and destroyed families.

Why are we so easy on drunk drivers? While speaking with a professional driver recently, I mentioned I felt first-time offenders should lose their license for 6 months. "Why six months?" the driver replied, "I'd say at least a year!"

I agree! We have at least one case, a woman killed someone while driving drunk. She got 4 months in jail. For killing someone. Someone died, and she lost 120 days of her life? She can drive? WHY is this considered OK?

As far as I know, no one in my life has been affected by a drunk driver. No one is driving drunk and no one's been affected. My husband's accident was caused by a night-shift-zombie on a cell phone, and in a hurry. Don't get me started on cell phone drivers; I'm a firm believer in "Hang Up and Drive!".

But I don't understand why society is so forgiving of drunk drivers. You are operating a dangerous machine, while impaired. You don't need to be impaired. You don't need to operate the machine - I don't drive anything and I have a full life. Why do they get tiny sentences and why, in God's name, are they allowed to continue to drive?

Don't feed me that "I can't have a life without a car" crap. I've never driven a car. I work, play, and live a productive life without a car. When I'm in a car, I'm the passenger and someone is etiher paid to drive me, or getting gas money for doing me a favor. I'm fine with that.

I made a deliberate choice not to drive, because I can't process the necessary information fast enough to be an adequate, safe, driver. Since I can't drive safely due to my disabilities, I don't. Why? Because I don't want to kill or maim an innocent person, myself, or my husband. It's simple and selfish. Let someone else have the worries about safety, while I work on my knitting or read a book.

I truly believe we need to get "meaner" with drunk drivers. First time offense? Take the license for 6 months to a year. They'll live. If they're caught driving in that period, they lose the license for 5 years. Drive drunk while your license is suspended, lose your license for life and go to jail.

Second offense? Lose your license for 10 years. That's a long time for someone to grow up. Throw in some prison time/probation too. If you injure someone while driving drunk, lose your license for life - period.

I have seen many tragic stories of repeat offenders driving drunk, again, and killing whole families, or injuring people so severely they'll never recover. Some of them have injured people driving drunk, went to jail for a bit, got out, and then killed someone while driving drunk again. Driving is a not a right, it's a responsibility. If you're not up for the responsibility then you don't get to drive. Period.

It seems simple to me.

We need to get meaner.

How do I know when I'm getting manic?

It's a good question. How do I know?

I mean, one day I'm at baseline, and at some point a few days down the road I realize "I'm manic, I need to increase my lithium." How do I know? What else do I do to manage my illness?

First of all, let's cover the easy one - the depression. Generally the depression is much more easy to pinpoint. I lose energy. I lose interest in things I love, I feel hopeless and lost in a world of misery, and my "Time to increase the lithium" sign - I feel like taking a shower is just the most difficult thing in the world. The Shower Sign is my clue to do a few things.

* Take more lithium
* Add B-Complex, L-Carnitine, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10 to my supplements, if I'm not already. Doing so has actually whacked a depression in the burgeoning stages.
* Sit down and figure out what I love to do, and start doing it regardless of "feeling like it". I do the things I love, and as I do them I feel better, even though I didn't want to do them to begin with (Thank you Bipolar Survival Guide).
* Make sure I'm eating and resting properly.
* If it's really bad, I add in some mild exercise every day if I didn't work that day.
* On my off days, I GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and do something, anything, away from home. It keeps my mind active. If I'm idle, I'll just brood and get worse, if I'm "out" I automatically focus on external things and feel better as a result.

So, when I'm manic, what do I do? Here's a pretty good link on signs of mania:

But what about me? An abstract list of symptoms and a mania are pretty incompatible.

Yesterday morning I noticed I felt unusually energetic. I had trouble getting to sleep the night before (*), but I had a lot of energy the next morning, far more than usual (*).

I felt restless and hyper at work(*). I wondered if I was getting manic (*). I repeatedly wondered if I was getting manic. (**) When I got home, I did active yardwork things - I wanted to do something physically taxing to "burn it off" (**). After doing so, I still had lots of energy. (*). I wanted to talk to everyone in the world yesterday and today (**) but I could shut up when needed (not too bad, then).

Last night, again, trouble falling asleep. (**) Today I felt kind of restless and invincible, "I'm on top of the world!" (***) I had an unusual amount of energy. I continued to wonder if I was manic. Ron reacted to things I said as if I were getting irritable, even though I felt fine. I was VERY impatient. My thoughts kept jumping around in my head, like a flock of flapping birds. That's when I realized, I'm getting manic.

Other times, I can't shut up talking. I want to spend all my money on oddball items I'll never use. This week, I did a good job budgeting my money. I didn't let my mania affect anyone but Ron (sorry, Ron), and I caught it pretty early. I still feel like "I don't need this illness label" - BAD THINKING. My typing is worse, and I almost feel a little high.

That's why, as soon as I publish this post, I'm going to eat something and take an extra lithium tablet. I will continue to take an extra every day until I get toxic (another post). Then, I'll reduce it back to my normal level of 2 tablets a day.

I think the hardest part of the illness is realizing - I'm getting sick again, I need to stay on top of this. I need to STOP this, and I need to do it now.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I don't want to!

I almost did it again... I've been so busy taking care of Ron, taking care of the business and household, that I'm neglecting taking care of myself.
I guess part of it's the fact that I get tired, lots of fatigue due to my medication. Yesterday I screwed up and took the morning pills at night - and woke up to hallucinations. I heard things that weren't there, and then today I was "off" - paranoid, but not enough that anyone noticed. I had "Bad Thought Patterns" manifesting. I took the proper stuff tonight, and I already feel better.

Last week Ron and I donated blood - I found out we were donating when I checked my email. I got an email "Thank you for making an appointment". I asked Ron about it, Oh, yeah, Heather they called so I set us up. OK.
Since Ron has needed multiple units of blood, my uncle got over a gallon, and my Dad needed platelets last year I will NEVER say no to donating as long as I'm healthy and my P-doc says it's fine (he's thrilled I'm a blood donor, and we secretly hope that perhaps my lithium-enhanced blood might go to someone with bipolar disorder who's short on blood due to a suicide attempt). The blood bank says my meds are fine - I can donate. So, we donated.
It was a long day but I'm glad I did it. I know how I felt when my loved ones needed blood - and having encountered a lot of blood donors at the center I have no qualms about getting a transfusion.

Lots of long, busy days, taking care of business. Then I got a migraine on my day off. That day was a loss, and so was the next day - work and rest/recovery from migraine. Monday? Well, Ron needed some new clothes, we got clothes, and I did housework and some garden chores.
We had a nasty cold front, and I had to cover and uncover the plants. Lots of watering, weeding, picking up in the yard. I forgot to wear a hat or sunscreen when working in the yard, so in addition to tanning my nose, I got a sunpimple - I can get pimples from sun exposure due to my antidepressant. Ack.

Chores, chores chores. Doesn't everyone? Caregiving, helping Ron, taking care of the business, managing the household... getting enough rest so I can function (I need a couple hour nap, plus at least 8 hours of sleep every night).
This evening I was out in the yard thinking about all the things I "should" do tomorrow. I then thought how I don't really want to do any of them. I don't want to mow the yard, paint the trim on the garage, put down my weed-blocking edging after mowing, or any of that. I don't want to mop the floor, get groceries, or clean out the fridge.
I don't want to! Well, I thought, I don't have to do any of it tomorrow. What would I like to do? Remember the nice nurse aide who insisted I take at least one day for myself every week, or I'd be "no good"? Ron's been awesomely appreciative, and does everything he can for himself to help prevent caregiver burnout. I love taking care of him, but it's a big load off my back if I know he can stagger up to the kitchen and microwave a TV dinner if he's hungry, or eat some fruit salad out of the fridge.
I can certainly go out and have fun on my own. Ron begged me not to make any trips on Metrolift if possible. I was happy to oblige. Personally, I prefer riding the bus, it's more predictable. I don't have to adjust my schedule to them, when I'm ready I just go out and wait for the next one. I'm never crowded in the back with someone I'd rather not, and everyone is polite on the bus. Some Metrolift clients are not polite.
So what do I want to do? I don't know. I "should" go to Foodtown and get groceries, but I have food. I "should" go to Walmart because I need some paper plates and cat food. If at all possible, I eat off of disposable paper plates so I can throw away my dishes. Ron and I started that when I was depressed. The paper snack plates work great with his Hot Pockets, when I heat them in the microwave.

I "could" go to any one of 4 garden centers, on the bus. How wonderful to know that they're all so close! I plan on expanding garden bed 1. I'll need some kind of organic matter to work into the soil. What could I get? Hmmmm. Sounds fun. I also want to look at some kind of brick edging for my area. I plan to put down weed-blocking fabric between the garden beds, and top it with that shredded tire mulch. It doesn't degrade and I'd be a recycler by using it. I like that. I'll need something to contain it in my area, though, so I envision some kind of brick edging, like this:
I also want to modify the compost area and turn it into a garden bed, but it'll have to be raised because it's near 3 trees - trees are hungry creatures and will invade the garden bed, and odds are I could kill at least one of them digging up a garden bed in the area. Even though it's MY yard, I have to respect the roots. If I have a raised bed, MY babies can play in their own soil. When they're big and tough, they can dig down and compete with the tree roots for nutrients.
I have no compunction about making a "lasagne" style raised bed - where I layer organic material on top of the soil, inside some kind of border, to make my raised bed. Obviously I need to research making a raised garden bed, too.
Maybe tomorrow I'll go to some garden centers and research edging and raised bed options. Maybe I'll go to that new thrift store. Maybe I'll stay home.
I'm not sure yet, but I'm going to focus on what's fun for ME, and not "what needs doing".

A visit with the parents

So, my Dad's in town.  Along with my adoptive Mom.  Say what you will, she did raise me.  I slept pretty well last night - no noise.  ...