Greetings from Lockdown

On Wednesday I was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. I was told by my doctor that if the symptoms did not go away, that I should go get tested. I did not want to be tested, but I did not feel well at all the following day. So I made a field trip to the testing site after going through a telephone screening with a local health professional.

The clinic had me wait in the nearby Wendy’s parking lot. I then called their number and awaited further instruction. I was told that when signaled by the traffic guard, I could move my vehicle into one of the marked stalls. I noticed that everyone else had their driver’s side windows down, so after I was assigned a stall, I also rolled my window down.

That may have been the longest half-hour of my life, waiting to be tested. The doctor and his assistant were extremely pleasant and even gave me an extra mask. I had worn a bandana, but they needed to take more stringent precautions. The doctor explained that some of my symptoms (namely, my hands turning cold and numb and blue) were likely symptoms of Reynaud’s syndrome and not COVID. Out of an abundance of caution and probably due to my being diagnosed with asthma the day before, he proceeded with the test. He listened to my breathing, took my oxygen level, and then told me to tilt my head back. He said, “It’s going to feel like I’m tickling your brain.”

Indeed, it did, though the test was not as bad as I had imagined. I do think they may have accessed my Matrix switch, though. I would not be at all surprised if I suddenly acquired the ability to fly a plane. I did have a bit of a lasting headache afterward, but I can say the test itself is nothing to be afraid of.

Now I am awaiting the results. I feel a great deal better today, despite the shoddy stomach. The sinus pressure and pain are much better, and my hands have not gone numb recently. My son and boyfriend, however, have been coughing.

According to my boyfriend’s doctor, they will only test one person per household and wait for that result. So we are all waiting for four to seven days. We cannot go anywhere, not even out for groceries. We did bring the indoor/outdoor cat, Frank, inside, so he could not potentially spread the contagion. We are staying six feet away from each other, but the doctor’s office indicated that if my test is positive they will assume we are all positive. We continue to sleep in separate rooms.

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I was going to continue completely isolating myself, but I had to weigh that against my son’s mental health. Because of this quarantine (and my boyfriend and I working on-site), my son has been all alone during the day here. His sleep patterns have been disrupted and in general, he has not been doing well emotionally. After just a day of complete isolation myself, I can see why.

So I’m scared that the result may be positive, but my rational brain says that it’s probably negative. I decided that I couldn’t live with not knowing and potentially spreading the virus to others at work. At least with a negative result, I will know for sure that the symptoms are from some other bug.

If it’s positive, I will be upset. Because I wash my hands, I avoid touching my face as well as I can. I use hand sanitizer. I’ve done everything right, and yet, with this virus, it doesn’t necessarily matter. And it makes me frustrated and upset. I know of other people who are in isolation from suspected COVID right now, and I don’t normally pray. But I am praying for the mental and physical health of every one of them.

And I try not to pass judgment but our neighbors on either side of us have frequent visitors. They may have legitimate reasons, but it seems very business-as-usual for them. It upsets me because we even had an invitation to Easter dinner that we refused, just because I have a higher risk of contracting the virus through going to work every day. Am I glad we didn’t go? Why, yes, I am.

And now I get to sit around and try not to lose my mind. Work has been understanding, which is nice. But it’s becoming harder and harder to see myself working on-site every day when fear of this virus is out there.

Stay safe, folks. Stay inside unless going out is absolutely necessary. Listen to the scientists. Think about the at-risk portions of the population before you act. We can get through this, but we all have to do our part.

Birthday Blessings

So I do love my job. And I’m somehow considered essential. But I really wish I could be at home with my son, as he is going through a lot right now. I considered quitting a few weeks ago but knew I could not reasonably afford to. Now, with the advent of COVID-19, my options are extremely limited. Not a lot of places are hiring for permanent positions right now. The places that are hiring are more on the front lines of this thing than I am comfortable with. So I’m going to have to wait out my term, but I am terrified.

I wish I didn’t have to choose between barely scraping by financially and my health. I already dropped 10 hours a week to help care for my child. And I’ve been doing my best to manage his care, through telephone interviews and web appointments and all the forms that have come in the mail.

But let’s ignore my stresses for a moment because today is my birthday.

Let’s start at the very beginning, with the coolest parents ever.

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They had my lovely sister, Heather, and then they had me. I was born with a football-shaped head. It might explain a lot. Here is a picture of me with my father.

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I have been blessed with two wonderful sisters. Here are some Halloween shenanigans.

My dear father passed away in 2002.

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I am so grateful to have these ladies.

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And of course, I have been blessed with wonderful aunts and uncles, and many lovely cousins to boot.

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And then there are my friends, as intelligent and creative as they are strong.

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my niece and my own wonderful child.

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Vi is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

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More recently, I have been blessed with an amazing, supportive boyfriend. His art continues to inspire and amaze.

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So I would count my blessings on my birthday, but I don’t math and can’t count that high. It’s a quarantine birthday, but the way I figure it, I got a bonus decade. So I can’t complain. I love you all, and thanks for reading.

History of Illness

Hi all.

With the dramatic turn of world events, I’m surprised I haven’t completely gone mad. When I go mad, I go all the way. I’m worried that I’m not sleeping but it’s likely because I may already have been laid off. But I don’t know for sure because I never got a text from my boss. So I’ll go in with the full expectation of being let go.

Everyone is hurting. I know a lot of people who weren’t in as good a place financially as I was up to this point (blatantly ignoring my mountains of debt). I’m so scared of what is to come but I also want to help where I can.

Mentally and emotionally, kiddo and I are not well. We weren’t well, to begin with, but the global crisis has made things exponentially worse. If I’m not responding to your snippy political comments on Facebook, it is because I am beyond blaming anyone for this crisis and also, I have far bigger fish to fry. If I block you, it’s because I need to do so to preserve my sanity and/or our friendship in real life.

In the end, when we die, it won’t matter whether we were Democrats or Republicans per se. What will matter, I think, is if we tried to be kind to one another. I’m trying the best I can and hoping that it’s good enough. I’m sending virtual hugs and moral support in lieu of germ-ridden real hugs and monetary support. Because that is currently what I have to give.

Also, hating one another for their sexual identity or the color of their skin or their religion has never been the answer. I don’t know why some of my relatives and friends think it is. I will never understand it. If that makes me a bad person, I guess I’ll see you in Hell. I’m bringing the margaritas.

Oh, holy moly. Lack of sleep is very bad for people with bipolar disorder. It is making me wax philosophical, but if I start sounding delusional, let me know. My Grammarly mood indicator is a little frowny face right now. Instead of saying no s***, Sherlock, I think I will say, no poop, Plato.

My history of mental illness has inadvertently affected my child. However, it also makes me his best advocate. I will still fight for him and his rights, no matter what. If that makes me a looney then put me in a straightjacket right now.

It may be the only thing that prevents me from touching my face.

Speaking of touching your face, I have a history of germophobia because of my OCD. Y’all suddenly becoming hyper-aware of germs was my everyday reality since I was five years old. Welcome to my world. Now, do you understand why I wash my hands fifty times a day on a good day? Uh-huh. I thought so.

Mental illness vindicated! But I digress.

Seriously, take care of your mental health in any way that you can during these times. But don’t visit your much-needed counseling center because, like my son’s counseling center, it is likely closed until further notice.

I have had this song stuck in my head for the last few days. Hair metal fans, rejoice.

Anticipating Introversion

As an insomniac introvert with OCD, you would think I’d been planning for quarantine my whole life.

Not true.

I was just starting to get on my feet again when we were floored for a time. I didn’t work at all last week, because my child was not at all well. No such thing as paid sick leave at my temp job. So we were already in a rough spot with money and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in weeks when the panic hit Idaho. Thank you, my heavily weighted credit cards. I owe you a debt (ha! I kill me).  I managed to hit up Fred Meyer for about an hour or so before I started to have a panic attack and needed to check out. I have never bought such random food in my life, I sure hope my little family likes Italian sausage.

To make matters worse, V, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), is worried about my mother and grandmother in light of the pending pandemic. I am worried too. I am trying very hard to keep my own anxieties in check. But it’s 6:30am on Saturday, I’ve been up since 4:15am, and I have already finished laundry and reorganized my closet.

The cats woke me for breakfast this morning. Starlight, the striped one, likes to knock pens and other random objects off of dressers and desks in order to wake me up. It works. She is a smart little bugger.

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Starlight, keeping the bills warm until they hatch and (hopefully) fly away. Joke credit: Jim

Mona Lisa, the tuxedo kitty, goes for a more subtle approach, she hogs the pillow on which I lay my head and purrs loudly. Note her lovely white “smile,” due to which her rescuers named her after the famous painting.

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That smile knocks my socks off. Her toe beans are pink AND black, btw.

Frank, the 22-lb orange tomcat, simply gets up to bully the girls after they’ve already woken me. He is large and in charge. An interesting fellow, quite possibly the nastiest cat I’ve ever met. He purrs while he chomps at you.

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Frank is the illest

Frank is currently scrapping outside with another cat. I tried to get him to come in. He refused.

So what will I do while housebound? Vi and I plan on singing on YouTube. Our voices blend well. A gentleman in a group online said he might do a podcast with his son. My Vi is an experienced YouTube and TikTok user so perhaps we will follow suit. I already have a Facebook page called “V and C TV” dedicated to this very idea, perhaps we will update it. We can also chronicle Frank’s weight loss journey and the nonexistent love triangle going on between the cats.

Also, my love gifted me the David Sedaris MasterClass for Christmas. I need to finish that up and read all the books that I’ve been accumulating since my divorce. I also need to keep up with all of Vi’s appointments. We have an in-home assessment coming up Monday that I really should clean the house for.

In short, we will stay busy. And try not to buy into the growing panic by taking common-sense measures. And we will feast on Ramen noodles, which never meets objection from the child anyway.

 

 

The Art of VS

My kiddo is an artist through and through. He will be opening up an Etsy shop as soon as I have a steady income again. Here are some of the amazing works V has come up with so far.

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Mini Jack Skellington
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Wicked
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Dino mask reimagined
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Cityscape
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Pennywise
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Sloth advice
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My favorite animal

The Art of JB Daniels

We are all creatives in this house. I like to write, and I used to sing and act. My kiddo sings and acts and writes and does all kinds of art. My boyfriend makes amazing animal art. He was recently a featured artist at JUMP in Boise, for their wonderful Illumibrate event. Here are some of the amazing projects he’s worked on. There are the fish in our living room:

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Then there was the elephant puppet he made for a circus-themed dance show a few years ago…

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He made a swordfish with Billy Edney for JUMP’s Illumibrate festival last year.

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And here’s the latest, the installment that is currently in JUMP’s lobby. Many artists collaborated on this and I find it so amazing. Jim works so very hard on all of these projects. Not bad for a guy that started making art five years ago, eh?

What amazes me most is how he takes an idea and makes it a reality. I leave you with my amateur video of his elephant puppet. Enjoy.

Hitting Reset

I wish I were a modem. You could unplug me, plug me back in, and I would work just fine. Provided you managed to pay my outrageous internet access bill. But that’s an entirely different ball of wax.

So I haven’t been on here blogging in months. I was afraid potential employers would see this and automatically deem me unstable. But trust me, I’m well medicated for my conditions. My child, on the other hand, has had a difficult time with some med adjustments this week, and my heart goes out to him. You see, when you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder the week before your fourteenth birthday, you have many questions.

Why do I have to be on medication? That’s one question. Why can’t I focus? There’s another one. It could be racing thoughts, it could be the ADHD you were diagnosed with two years ago. Will I ever be normal? Trust me, sweetheart, there is no such thing as normal.

You may have questions about my pronoun usage. You see, my child prefers he/him. I love him with all my heart.  Wouldn’t have him any other way than the way he sees himself. I understand that you may have moral or religious objections to his state of being. And as much as I love you, I don’t care. Not supporting his journey would only make things awful for all involved. And I choose to support him, no matter what, for the rest of my life.

Have I been worried for the past year? Absolutely. Being a transgender kid in a very red state has its drawbacks. I was already worried about the risk of bullying and suicide, and now we have at least two diagnoses to contend with on top of those potential issues. I also see, from my observation, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. We have a mental health assessment on the 16th of this month to see what other official diagnoses we have been blessed with.

I keep trying to explain to V that you can see your mental illnesses as a blessing or a curse. There are plenty of historical figures and contemporary artists diagnosed with bipolar who thrive creatively. Hugo Wolf, for example, was arguably the greatest composer of German lieder in his time. Halsey’s latest album is entitled Manic, and let’s not get started on the genius that is Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. He’s utterly brilliant.

And my child is brilliant artistically and intelligent beyond measure. We just have some head/mood wonkiness to contend with. And med adjustments have been multiple and extraordinarily rough. And the diagnoses are constantly evolving. And I’ve had to take unexpected time off from work in order to help. I love working for my company, but I love my son more. I need him here with me. And I will do whatever it takes to see him through this.

So since November, there’s been a lot going on. I’m in the process of narrating our Christmas crisis, but it’s turning into a little book. Trying to get this poor child help was a nightmare, in a nutshell. Boise’s infrastructure has not kept up with the need for mental health services. And because we are just above a certain income level, we did not qualify for any services offered through Medicaid.

That may change soon, however. I am a temp agent and my job status is up in the air right now, adding to the stress. I just realized I started grinding my teeth a few sentences ago. I am looking for something part-time and flexible, but more immediately, I’m trying to focus on what’s best for my child. I could get up on my soapbox about the evils of capitalism and how there’s no adequate social safety net for folks like me and my son. But that would take a while, and I need my OTC drug of choice (namely, coffee) so I can get through the rest of my day.

My child, however, is a sleepyhead. Dreaming dreams only those on medication can dream. I leave you with a song.

Worthy

It’s been a few months.

This may have been the longest hiatus I have taken from writing. It has been a tumultuous time since July. I started off with being physically ill from one of my medications. That turned into resignation from my long-term job and a short foray into a job that was simply not right for me. I kept a brave face but inside I was failing. After seeing how my stress level was affecting my child, I decided to take the leap and look for an alternate source of employment.

Long story short–being disabled sucks at times. And there was a level of constant chaos in my most recent job that I simply could not handle. So, here I am. Temporarily unemployed and wishing that the reportedly uncomfortable state of being on disability was a possibility. I’m told that it’s not. I’m told it takes years. I’m told you lose your car and any semblance of your once comfortable life. I don’t really want to do that, especially considering that I have a child to help provide for. A child who, incidentally, goes to school on the other side of town to grow up with supportive friends.

So I soldier on.

And Christmas is coming. With Christmas comes the usual, additional bills. I’m still playing catch-up from being on leave in July. But my car registration will soon come to haunt me. As will my AAA bill, which I depend on in case said car decides to break down. And soon I will need to get the issue of my squeaking brakes addressed.

Then there was the unexpected $500 worth of vet bills I incurred when the little cat decided not to pee for three days. At least some of that I should be able to recoup through pet insurance. But it’s hard to keep your self-worth up when your net worth seems to be dropping steadily by the day.

This idea of worth. What am I worth? More than the sum of my bills. As you know, if you’ve read the blog, I have waxed suicidal in the past. The idea that I am worthless? Well, I’ve flirted with it from time to time. But that idea is completely invalid. I know that I have something to offer. To my family, to my friends, to the community.

Society has other ideas sometimes. It wants to reduce you to a bank balance. Capitalism is a mixed bag for artists and creatives. Yes, I want to be myself. But well, food is kind of important. So is a roof over our heads. And running water. Will I be unwillingly forced back into the service industry? Most likely. But in reality, I’m happy to do it. Despite the social anxiety, I do like most people and enjoy at least trying to make their days a bit brighter.

Would I prefer a quiet office job? Sure. It is what I am best suited to despite a lack of recent experience. I am trying. I know. Most people are like, hey, you should try for one of those state jobs. I’ve tried. I fail every examination due to a lack of recent experience. I know I could do any job if trained, but a lot of jobs these days require familiarity with programs that I’ve never even heard of. I’ve heard, hey, you’re an educated woman, you should get a better job. I know. Trust me, I’ve tried.

I know my worth, but also my limitations. Being chronically ill is also a mixed bag. Does it make me tough? Sure. Does it make me more vulnerable and prone to failure? Absolutely. But I cannot, and will not, let it take me down.

Bellyaching Part Trois

I really need to get a new gig writing about puppies and unicorns. Alas, I am still sick. Not much to say about my exciting adventures this week as they have mostly taken place from a couch or a bed. I’ve seen a lot of excellent TV, perhaps I’ll write about that on the other blog. I’ve been a useless turd around the house. I can’t say that this has been fun in any sense of the word.

But I did lose five pounds on the nausea diet. Yay me. I was expecting 10 but I’ll take what I can get. I’ve never had a medication make me this sick before. To where I can’t reasonably function. And the anti-nausea medication gives me a terrible headache. This does beg the question–what do you do when the cure is worse than the disease? Well, I’m on another mood stabilizer so I’m dumping the pill that makes me ill.

It might not be the smart thing to do. I could potentially go manic. I’m going to request a mood stabilizer other than the one I’ve been taking and other than lithium. God love you, lithium, you’re a classic drug but you make me feel so heavy.  But the real question is, can I afford a different mood stabilizer? That remains to be seen. I’ll have to discuss options with my provider. I really want to try to go back to the clomipramine but it’s also too expensive. And it did seem to make me tired all the time.  But man, I’ve got $250 of it sitting in a drawer like untouchable gold.

Why are the good drugs with fewer side effects so damn expensive? You would think someone would have fixed this glaring problem by now. For example, having diabetes should not be a death sentence since the medications to treat it exist. This is really obvious. Healthcare is an outrageous scam in this country. Why aren’t more people outraged? Oh yeah, that’s right. We’re too sick to fight back. Or we’re dying. Or we’re simply flummoxed by our own problems, receiving substandard care for a huge price tag. Trying desperately just to manage.

I feel like since going off both old drugs I’ve been in choppy waters. SSRIs traditionally do not work for me. They make me fly into mania. Lithium is like taking a lead balloon. And then we’ve got the generic Geodon in there making me feel like I’ve swallowed poison every night for the last month or so. All of this is making me feel very tired of being on drugs at all. It’s no wonder people like me go off their meds. And let’s not forget the two as-needed antianxiety meds and the antinausea. That’s a total of six drugs and that’s just too many.

Do I want to go off my meds? Yes and no. I just remember the suffering before and it’s enough to keep me swallowing the pills and feeling like crap otherwise. I’m terrified of losing control. I’ve been moody and anxious even on the drugs. Can I really survive without them? Would it be better or worse? Can CBT help more with the OCD? I seem to recall having a CBT for Dummies book around here somewhere. If I can treat that part of it I’m halfway there. Then we would just have to worry about that mood stabilizer.

Basically, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and am grasping at straws. Wishing I could afford a CBT certified therapist instead of using an SSRI. I just feel nasty. And not nasty in a good, Janet Jackson kind of a way.

Bellyaching Part Deux

I am so sick. I can’t eat without feeling horribly nauseated. I went to see my med manager, who prescribed low dose lithium and some Zofran to control nausea. In addition, I am supposed to up the dosage of my SSRI to triple what I’m currently taking. Hoping this balances me out.

I’ve been forgetting things within moments of thinking of them or doing them. Like with my pill earlier, did I take it, or did I just think about doing it? Since we’re going to triple the dose I figured one more wouldn’t hurt, so down the hatch it went. I’ve been stopping at imaginary stoplights and missing turns on the way to work because I’m so preoccupied. I even had a doozy of a dream where I was driving down the highway at night with no lights on.

I’m seeing three people for my medical conditions which hopefully will help with all the paperwork that needs to be filled out for the time I’m missing from work. When the meds are on, I’m on, and when they’re off, I am hopelessly off. I am panicking. I am not financially prepared for this but here I go. I have a little in savings which will help soften the blow of however many days I am out. They wanted me to give them an exact date range. I don’t know people, how about when I feel better?

Kiddo is over at grandma’s for the week which is likely a good thing. I am too anxious to do much. Getting gas today was a struggle. Going to my med manager was difficult, I got there super early because if I didn’t leave my house right at that time I wasn’t going to. I’m hoping desperately that the adjustment to the new meds and dosages happens quickly so I can go back to work.

This country’s healthcare system is broken BTW. It needs an overhaul like, yesterday. I am a good person and I do what I can but ultimately I am disabled. But I am stuck working 40 hours a week. 50 in the winter when they need people. That’s crazy. That’s crazier than I am. It shouldn’t be so hard for people with disabilities to receive the healthcare and support they need. And forget about applying for actual disability, you need years and a lawyer and I don’t have the time or the funds for either.

I guess I could go off meds entirely and end up institutionalized but that doesn’t seem like a viable option either. I have a kid and kitties who depend on me. I’m doing my best with what I’ve got to work with even if my wiring is messed up through no fault of my own. I’m worst-case-scenario girl again, I know. Print me a T-Shirt and get me a Twitter following, lol.

I need to make lists of things like medical appointments I’ve had recently. I need to bring a little notebook to appointments as suggested by my med manager. I need to quit with the explosive bum, let’s put that on the to-do list. I need to take action because inaction is getting me nowhere fast.

But again, I am so sick. Maybe I’ll just take one of my controlled substances and a much-needed nap instead. Which will win out? Anxiety or the exhaustion? Tune in next time, same batshit crazy time, same batshit crazy channel.