Dear Dear Diary
Someone asked me about what I mean by flipping the switch from normal to horrifically fucked up/multiple chemical sensitive. It's because I can pin the point it happened to the hour. January 17, 1995, about noon. I worked the noon-8 p.m. shift at the newspaper, laying out the Living section.
I was house painting since I could hold a brush. My parents have a camp in the wilds of the Adirondacks, and we go every summer. I have painted every building, every walkway, every dock, and a couple of boats of the place at least once, some things as many as 3 times. I started painting canvases regularly when I was 20. I *loved* oil painting. The summer of my 25th year, I think I painted a large canvas every weekend with acrylics- out on my porch in the moonlight. My walls are covered with completed canvases. But that's not the only toxic thing I've done. I worked in the nickel plating room at Smith Corona for a summer- no ventilator, gloves, etc- just open vats of acid. At 25, I worked for a newspaper - I was in and out of the press room, the paste up area, and had a desk way too close to the the laserprinter. I volunteered for an animal shelter cleaning cages with the industrial cleaner, Quat. I started dating a smoker and drinking too much booze. I did not take care of myself and thought myself capable of handling anything. Perfume did not bother me, though I still I did not wear it. I adored roses, and would often buy one for myself. I went to a ren fair that summer and chewed on a rose the whole time with no ill effects. I had two kittens and scooped their box every morning.
When they redecorated the office in vinyl wall paper and put in new formadelhyde soaked (for fire-proofing) carpets, that was the final straw. Something clicked off. I could no longer stay in the building longer than 15 minutes without experiencing symptoms.
I could not do *anything* that I used to do. I didn’t know what I could even eat without fearing setting off a reaction. My reactions vary widely - from joint pain to gastrointestinal cleansing (with or without serious crampy pain) to simple inability to breath (which starts with coughing, goes to hyperventilating, and then I pass out from lack of oxygen- a state I have fortunately only reached once). My physicians were of no help and did not believe this was real. I was treated as a nutjob. Therefore I was fired from the job for inability to think or breathe in the building. I did not get a lawyer. I should have. I am completely fine in a controlled environment. But I can’t live in a cage, so I dance along the edge of controlled and uncontrolled. The depression and paranoia are just side-effects in trying to cope.
So if I vent here about being depressed, it's mostly just venting here. This whole mess is very frustrating. It's been more than 10 years, and I am NOT better than I was. I have found many things that set me off, and yet I still have unexplained things happening. It's very hard to say if a symptoms is caused by a disease or by a reaction and the line is very thin.
Positive note: I finished my entry for a quilt contest and got everything ready for mailing.
Negative note: Instead of mailing it, I am sitting on my ass in front of my computer waiting for something to happen with work that doesn't involve me yelling obscenties, pounding my head against a wall, or other bad-tempered pointless behaviour. I hear crickets and one long anguished scream in my head. Because of course, I would not actually give vent to my feelings with such boorish behaviour, I'm sure.
The first thing she noticed was the odometer was busted. She could not tell how old the car was. She couldn't even say if it was a Ford or a Chevy or some other model. It was kind of early 70s, but she had never been a car buff and never bothered to learn what kind of car looked like what. It wasn't important to her. All she knew was the car was in fairly good repair, ran well, and was cheap. She could afford it, so she bought it. She almost missed the anxious look in the former owner's eyes.
"It belonged to my uncle. He was a wizard with cars, but he managed to get into a stupid bicycle accident. I wouldn't sell it, but I need the money," the owner told her and handed over the keys.
I can think of a car that won't break. Won't run out of gas. Doesn't need the oil changed. Etc. And now it's depressed and suicidal. Not Carrie. More comedy/antihero. But I'm weird like that.
When I hear the silence, I have to assume that everything is okay.
If I know too much, if I cling too much, if I ask too many probing questions, I only hear what I don't want to hear. I'll say what I don't want to say if you ask me too much. I hate lies and lying, so I err on saying nothing at all. I give the impression that everything it is fine because nobody wants to hear everything about my headache or what hurts this moment. Pain passes through- it changes. Everything changes. All that remains is a lot of whithered dreams, an iron core of will to remain who I think I really am, and a growing pool of silence.
I'm a little nervous and excited. I'm off to see Suzi's summerstock production of "Grease." Being in a theater these days makes me nervous - what if I am surrounded by people in perfume? Breathing may be a chore and I won't enjoy that. Riding for a long time in a car with someone who hates to be in a car is not fun either. But those issues aside, that person in the car with me is the one person I really want there when I go see a play- I know we will have a long conversation on the way home about the good points and the bad points of the play, regardless of how my niece does.
My niece, Suzi, is the costume mistress for the theater this summer. On a budget of $200, she had to produce costumes for 4 shows, including Instant Shakespeare. I can spend that much on two full Elizabethan dresses. I can't imagine how to carry this off. She will be ushering for the play and stage managing. It's a tough gig, but should break her in well for her next job, and give her a real taste if she wants to be in theater for the rest of her life. I hope she likes it a lot. She's doing something I wanted to do and didn't have the bravery. So I'm very proud of her, as much as I am worried.
I don't smile enough.
Those who know me personally or just well enough to recognize me on the street are now objecting. But Georg, you say, you smile all the time. I'm smiling because I see you. Feel better?
It's when I'm alone I notice I don't smile much. The wrinkle in my forehead that I make while I work or figure out a small problem is growing more than my crow's feet. I remember finding someone attractive just because of of the happy wrinkles under their eyes when they smiled. I wanted to grow up to have happy wrinkles so I look like I'm smiling even when I'm not- not relax into a sad worried look.
There's nothing wrong with wrinkles or age spots. We're all going to get them, should we live so long. It's natural. So is my gray hair. I welcome it. I've grown and I've changed, and there is nothing wrong with being proud of that. I still get a little creeped out by faces that aren't natural- the botox or face-lifts that pull the skin tight they don't even look completely human any more. Laura Bush's eyes are a great example of this. I can't bear to look at her- I feel as sorry for her unnatural face as if she had been born without a nose. And I have known someone my age who was born without a nose. It was hard to become friends with her, but I did my best. I loved Gram's wrinkles. They were definitely well earned, and she had so many they could not be happy or sad- her wrinkles had wrinkles and it could have been a map of blue roads and country lanes anywhere. But when she smiled, she smiled with her whole face and her eyes just glowed from the joy in her heart.
I like to think I have her smile. So it's sad when I think I don't smile enough.
I had a good chat last night with my semi-adopted son, Kirby. Since his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, he's one of the few people I feel comfortable having frank discussions about symptoms, his and mine. I can actually give an honest answer to "How are you?" because really, no one really wants to know exactly what hurts at any given moment, where the rash is, and how many times your orfices did things they aren't designed to do in healthy persons. I have to be optimistic about my prognosis however, because if I am getting worse, it's so slight I can't tell, and I don't have anything fatal. Kirby, on the other hand, is getting noticably worse. He can't feel parts of his anatomy and loses fine muscle control on a regular basis. I worry, but really my best role is being ears and shoulder, as his is for me. It's just nice to have someone to unwind and share beer and sympathy.
There's a lot of things I love about my job. Late August is not one of them. For whatever reason, there seems to be a lull in people going to hospitals. I guess not as many people vacation then, or are just less active the last few days of summer before school starts, perhaps out of boredom. Perhaps those who are inclined to shout, "Hey, y'all watch this!" have already been injured or grounded. Maybe it's just too hot to do anything. But I now type for a hospital emergency room, and I've had nothing to do for 3 days now. This sucks mainly because if I don't work, I don't get paid. I rather like getting paid. There's another minor slow down in December, as people are trying to be good for Santa, but it's not as extreme as this.
On a completely different topic, I carved the styrofoam yesterday. Today, I'll try mixing the plaster of paris and pouring one of the forms.
Maybe I'll also work on a small quilt for entry into an abstract quilt contest. I hate not sewing, but it's been too hot to wrestle the anaconda of a rolled up quilt, and I'm trying to make myself finish the two quilts I started this spring before jumping into other projects.
Yesterday, I came home from the meeting and Jazz brought up headstones for cats in our yard, George, Rags, and Colin. There was no work this morning, so I went on a quest.
I went through Home Depot, Lowes and Wally World looking for feline lawn art and found none. Pesticides and fertilizers are the root of the migraine.
Then I went through Michaels, which always sets me off with the perfume. I acquired plaster of paris and large chunks of styrofoam. If I can't buy easily ready-made feline lawn ornaments, I guess I'll carve out headstones. I haven't tried this in a long while. I don't think I have carved styrofoam for the purpose of molding anything, but the theory is sound. Bamboo skewers should hold the styrofoam blocks in place as the plaster cures. Then Jazz can spray seal them when cured, and probably even use the dremel tool for polishing. It won't be easy, but few things worth doing are easy.
Speaking of memorials, that's Colin's Quilt with Sassy, our diabetic cat. Or as they call them on the internet on various messageboards, our sugarcat.
Sassy Fat Cat became rather abruptly not so Fat. I thought she was slimming down lately, but I thought it was because of Tyson Hyper Dog. Certainly an aggravation of her reaction sores on her face were likely caused by him as where possibly some of the fighting wounds on her neck. So I had taken her in last week for a steroid shot and reassurance that it was just the allergies and stress that caused the flare. This week, she went in for confirmation of the above and that she was all better. She dropped a pound in that week interval. Not Good. The red flags went off. I agreed to blood work. Within an hour, it was confirmed that she had diabetes. Her blood glucose was 441, and if she were a human, they'd be on the edge of forcibly admitting her. 500+ usually means mandantory emergency room admission.
In human diabetics, this far off normal can take years of delicately balancing the medical records, medication, and monitoring food intake. The goal is to get where she can just take a simple medication instead of insulin. But right now, she's going to have insulin injections twice a day, and possibly for the rest of her life. Plus regular blood work checks and vet visits- like for the first 3 months, I might be seeing the vet every other week with her. But the alternative is unthinkable. She is otherwise a very healthy cat, albeit much skinnier than she was at 12.1 pounds. I'll weigh her next week and see how she does. Current dose is 2.5 units b.i.d.
She's very good at receiving a shot, thankfully. However, she's very lethargic by nature. The hard part will be to watch for hypoglycemic comas in a normal rather comatose cat.
Today I put down the nintendo DS and did something useful. I've already made a pillowcase for my spare pillow. All other pillows have at least one pillow case- older pillows may have more than one, but they need that other pillow case for holding the pillow together. Somehow, I've run out of pillowcases after putting my hand through the one on the spare pillow. I could darn it, sure, but then I'd put my hand through a different part. It felt good to turn on the sewing machine, and it's been too long since I've done that.
I've been reading the software for the embroidery module of the sewing machine. It's not that complicated, but every time I try to do what is implied as the most elementary of things- draw a circle- it dissappears off the screen as soon as I do it. I'm missing something. I may have to resort to drawing my lace pattern in Paint and then transferring that over to the embroidery software. It truly makes me long for Corel DRAW! but I don't have a copy of that any more, and it's really expensive. I'm not sure what I'll do, but I may make an appointment with the ladies at the LQS to help me start with the digitizing. I want to make a lot of lace, and I think I could set up the sewing machine on the kitchen table to run while I work.
I packed up my yarn to sent to Tata. Hidden in the pile was my Barbie-size knitting knobby and three balls of eyelash yarn. I think I may make a scarf. Or a really long duster. Who knows? Took a while to remember how to use it perfectly because of course I forgot to keep the instructions because I believed I'd never forget how to use it. Ah vanity.
But I'm off to mail the yarn, finished with today's work, and gee, it's not even noon. It's amazing.
OTSusan over at Wildrun pointed this out to me, about National Homeless Animals' Day this 19th of August. This is a call out for candlelit vigils to be held for homeless pets every where
(her blog is very cat centered, but dogs and other pets are welcome). Susan is willing to coordinate a blogged candlelit vigil, so please consider sending her a link to a pic of your candle and/or rescued pet or pets posted on your blog, so we can remind everyone about the homeless animals every where that need our help.
This is of course especially true in the areas hit by Katrina, and by the hard flooding this spring and summer. Even though it's been a year since Katrina, the area still needs help. And certainly who knows what will happen this hurricane season.
As many of you know, Jazz and I met while working for an animal shelter, so this issue is very dear to our hearts. I will try to post photos and hold our own vigil. Or at least, I'll post a photo over on Running Scared and mention it here.
Couple of random things:
Halloween costumes are already in stores. WTF???!!!!
As I promised, I would find Marty Casey's album when he put one out. I have learned very recently that he did, with a band called the Lovehammers. It includes "Trees" of course, but the tunes Casualty and Rain on the Brain may actually be better. I was not dissappointed by this. "Persistence. Resistence. One man can make a difference." Sounds like an anthem for Poor Impulse Control to me. ;)
Few things are a simple piece of happiness as a balloon, or blue frozen flavor ice.
May all the gods bless the inventor of unscented baby wipes. I love you.
Few things add perspective to having a great day as dramatically as realizing today you will not be cleaning up any puddles of urine, vomiting, &/or poo. Don't get me wrong- I'll do it when it's needed. But... sometimes it's just nice to know you won't be doing that today.
This is turning into more of a blog about my pets than anything else. I don't think that's a bad thing, but it's a very circular shift in my thinking. I don't like whinging in public and my work
, my research, and politics appear on other blogs. This is for the rest of me.
I talked to Jazz about what we ought to do for our 10 year aniversary. He wanted to do something like go to the Keys like we did for our honeymoon, or maybe take a cruise. But there is no way in hell we could afford that. With the current way taxes are increasing, gas prices going up, grocery costs going up, etc, we can barely stay solvent as it is, and my paycheck is no where near large enough for much of anything but to keep treading water. It's not like we are living on minimum wage either. I've tried to cut back on the budget, but damn it's hard to find things to cut! The way prices are rising, it's as if we have taken a 25% pay cut.
Thanks to Tyson, we are more interested in dog rescue. It's something we tried to help with while we were at the shelter. Whenever a dog came in that looked purebred, we called the rescue groups (we also called Canine Companions, and they take dogs for companion animal training for handicapped folks). It felt good to let them take animals because they guaranteed happy endings for all of the dogs they took. The gist of it is that we will likely agree to foster basset hounds, which are lovely couch potatoes. And we'll probably try to adopt one for our aniversary. Because, I can afford a dog. Over the life of the dog, sure, I'll probably spend more than I would for going on a cruise. But it won't feel like it, and all of the happy memories will last much longer.
I've been switched to QA for another week at work. I expected, my boss expected, and certainly the pay check expected me to be off QA after one week. But I'm looking at week 3. That's 1/3 the normal lines I do. That really hurts the paycheck. And it hurts the ego. I thought I was much better than that. My ego may be getting in the way of learning to improve. This account wants 100% to 99% accuracy, and my 97% isn't good enough. So... I got to keep improving. I am trying to learn more. I am improving. I can do this. Because if I don't I gotta look for another job, and criminy, I don't want to even *think* about being unemployed. My friend has offered to get me into her current company, but she's doing voice-recognition editing, at half the line rate. I think that's criminal. VR isn't good enough yet. We still have to correct more than half the report, and it's just as fast to type it from scratch as it is to edit that much of the report. Really, it is a glorified sweatshop, because we are paid piecemeal - by the line. But what else can I do from my own home for money? I'm not writing enough to make that viable, obviously, or I'd be writing more here. My health issues do not permit any sort of office or selling job- I'm far too allergic to perfumes. So I concentrate on studying to improve my transcription skills. I have no idea what else I can do.
Happy ending for Tyson! I'm positively thrilled.
I took him to the vet's office for his initial shots and an exam. They admitted him to do the surgery this morning- his neutering. I was to pick him up tomorrow and take him to rescue. At the vet's office, I did make it very clear that he was off to JRT rescue when he was done with his surgery.
I got a call this morning from one of the vet techs there. She said her mom had a Jack Russell Terrier and would love to have another one. She called her mom and invited her to meet the dog. The mother went. They both decided that they loved the dog and wanted to know if they could keep Tyson. They would happily pay for his surgery and his medical fees. I said that would delight me.
I did go to the vet's office just now. I met the vet tech, and got to see Tyson as he was recovering from his anesthesia. We let him out of his cage, and he did crawl up into her lap and cover her with kisses - certainly more than he gave me. So I handed over his papers without a qualm. I did tell her that I would be happy to put her into touch with the local JRT rescue gentleman should she find Tyson too much to handle or if she wanted more JRTs. I invited them to call me for any reason about him, and they have my phone number. The mom is out shopping for a dog crate and a nice pillow bed for him to sleep in.
I'm positively thrilled at his happy ending. I wish all dogs could be so happy.
Poor Tyson, the Jack Russell Terror. Jazz and I have agreed, he's too much for our house. Part of me feels like crap, because I've never given up on an animal I've commited to. But then. I admit, I never committed to Tyson permanently. The owner gave us his paperwork tonight, surrendering the dog to us and our best judgement for him. I know, in my heart of hearts, that our decision is what is best for the dog.
No, we aren't doing anything irrevocable like taking him to the vet to be put to sleep. I'm not *that* bad. Nor is he going to the pound. He is going to the vet though- he's going to be fixed ASAP. When he is done at the vet's office, he's going to be surrendered to Jack Russell Terrier Rescue. These wonderful people have agreed to take Tyson on and give him a home, and ideally find him a forever home. This is very kind of them, because they work almost exclusively with dogs registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club, AKC or the CKC.
Tyson's parents are registered with "APR" or the American Pet Records, but apparently his litter and himself are NOT registered with APRI or any other registration. APRI (American Pet Registry, Inc.) itself does not recognize the pedigree of any dog solely listed in APR, but gosh, they are happy to issue paperwork that may look like certification of being a purebred dog. The paperwork includes the receipt with the price paid for the dog from the pet store, and it's almost $800. I can't imagine spending that much money without thinking about it long and hard. The paperwork lists a breeder name, "Margaret Kerr", but no contact information about the breeder. Nor is the breeder listed on the APRI site (but there is a caveat there saying that listing there is optional).
I've thought pet stores could be shady in the past and I have never bought a pet store in a shop, except fish and a couple of budgies. I know better now even about the budgies. I've helped with dogs rescued from puppy mills. I should know these things. But criminy it's smacked me upside the head this week.
I do resolve here and now that when we find room at the food bowl, we are contacting Basset Hound rescue. This is the breed that my husband and I both adore, with all of its faults and liabilities, and I would so much rather take a dog from rescue if at all possible. It's either that or do what we always do and take one from the shelter. The local dog shelter isn't no-kill. So anyone we can save, we'd feel good about it.
Tyson's owner also possesses a cat, Titan. I'm calling odds about 80% likely that Titan will be dumped in our home within 3 weeks. It's not that I want another cat. 4 cats is a lot, and we barely have Tom integrated fully (the best thing about Tyson is now Tom and Kenya have reached a truce). But shelters only have so much room, and I can squeeze one more in if I need to. My heart always has room.
I've also managed to talk him round about fostering kittens next year. :)
I feel obsessed with bodily functions at the moment. Not only is my work constantly mentioning the bowel habits of people I've never met, but we are housebreaking the Jack Russel Terror. I thought we were doing so well over the past few days, but then when I took the laundry down to the basement, I learned exactly how wrong I had been. There was shit All Over The Basement Floor.
Not a sight anyone wants to deal with before breakfast. I can guarantee you will Not want breakfast afterwards.
To top it all off, I've been fretting over my own. Actaully nerved up to go see the doc about it and she really wants to send me to the gastroenterologist to shove a camera where the sun don't shine. Joy. This leaves me with extra energy to deal with the bouncy beast, not. I told her I'd think about it, and see her next month, unless I keep showing nasty symptoms. She did tell me what symptoms need to be seen in the emergency room, and urged me to go as soon as possible if I get those. I do have the fairly typical reaction to taking care of my health... it's just me. Why bother? And that's a terrible way to think.
We are near the end of week 1 with the little Monster. He simply isn't meshing with us at all, or with our cats. He tries to mount both Spider and Sassy in dominant behavior mode, and neither of them will tolerate it. At least he won't do it to our dog. They still have a dust-up once a day, but fortunately short. There has been no blood drawn, but I worry it's just a matter of time. He is setting off my allergies, which is a rare thing to me. Yet I have a lot of pity for the poor thing. He's only being what he was bred to be. Temperamentally, he's a pure JRT.
In the summertime, I want to be nocturnal. I want to work at night and sleep all day. Being too warm makes me very sleepy. And then at night when it cools off, I am suddenly AWAKE. Sometimes, unfortunately, the AWAKE doesn't hit until I am lying there in bed in my coccoon of blankets and sheets (because the AC in the bedroom makes it too cold otherwise- and I have to be warm to sleep), and I am listening to his snores, as he ever so gently shakes the bed with his snoring. He's not even snoring loudly. And if I were truly tired, I'd sleep through it with no problems.
But right now, I'm thinking of my deaf friend in college and her deaf alarm clock that I got to use and how it shook the bed. She offered to lend it to me to use as a way to simulate the "stick a quarter in to get the mattress to shake" beds, but I never wanted to take her up on it. I know he can wake me up easily by thumping the bed. I know he doesn't mean it. But I still wake up.
And I try very hard to stay awake all morning. I have a deadline to meet, and not sleeping isn't going to help me make my deadline any faster. So I end up going without sleep, and that's perhaps only making the situation worse.
One of my medications is supposed to be helping with the sleeping problems, but I don't take it in high enough doses for that to be an issue. I worry instead about it keeping me up, and then I realize it's the worry that keeps me awake, and the medication is supposed to help with the worry. Criminy. It's all vicious circles, and in the summer, it just means I'm crankier and tired.
And just think, in 10 years, I won't just have slightly warmer summers to contend with- I'll also have those yummy hormones helping crank up the temperature differentials in my system. I may yet long for these productive hot summer nights where I can just stare at the computer until I get tired. I'm not getting older, I'm getting grumpier. What a thing to look forward to.
I was followed home from the bar tonight by a cop. I was rehearsing what I'd say if he did pull me over. I know he'd ask if I had been drinking. I was plotting my answer that would not get me arrested. "Why of course officer, whenever I am cranky and dehydrated from sweating my tailfeathers off in this heat, of course I want to imbibe something that will make me even more dehydrated and cranky. Sign me up!"
Tyson was a quiet and unenergetic companion today. I think the heat index really helped. It's hard to be happy hyper dog in 100+ heat indexes. He likes the cat beds I got for Colin, so we have them lying about, and he's using them. I may give one to Cliff when he takes Tyson away.
I actually want to close my eyes right now. So I'll go try.