Posted in activism, anxiety, C-PTSD, chronic pain, community, depression, disability, domestic abuse, gender, health, history, life, medical, PTSD, semicolon, sexual assault, society

1/20/18: March For Me

March for me.
I survived.
But still I live
In fear of
Repercussions.

March for me.
I am disabled
And cannot walk far.

March for me.
I am anxious in crowds.
And my voice wavers.

March for me.
I have C-PTSD.
I cannot stand being
Touched by men.

March for me.
For walking is too much
For me to handle.

March for me.
For I cannot
March
For myself.

~A

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Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, chronic pain, depression, disability, domestic abuse, friends, grad school, grief, health, homeless, life, medical, PTSD, sexual assault, society

1/10: #PTSD Frustrations #lifeĀ 

I can see where my life took a detour. Almost two years ago, I started noticing a fogginess in my mind. I couldn’t focus, days flew by and I missed deadlines for everything. 

Especially school.

For a few years now (maybe 6-7 years), I’ve noticed this getting worse. I kept struggling, fighting it whenever and however I could. My anxiety around crowds and people in general kept inching higher and higher. Even whe. My dad died in 2014, I noticed that the hugs I received from male friends (most of them) felt uncomfortable. 
I didn’t understand why. 

Then when the one friend triggered flashbacks in November 2016, it dawned on me that there was more to this. Over the next few days that weekend, I struggled with what was going on. I had PTSD. I actually had to google “can rape survivors have ptsd?” because I, like so many others, thought it was just for soldiers.

It isn’t. 

I feel that, over this past year or so since realizing this, I have disintegrated even more.

I can hold conversations with people. But getting things -anything- done is proving extremely difficult. 

This affects school. As my being homeless and in an awkward living arrangement certainly hasn’t helped my PTSD, I’ve struggled with finishing school. I swore I’d make it this last term. 

I didn’t. 

At this point, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to. I’m close, but I can’t seem to get myself sorted to where I can finish. 

I want to. I intend to. I need to… if only for my sanity. 

But I struggle with the effects of an illness no one really understands. At least I don’t believe they do. Hence my frustration. 

I feel lost at sea. In a dark void where I know others are, yet I can’t see them. I am alone in a crowded room. I don’t feel normal… even by my own standards of normal. 

I want to know when it will end. If it will. When can I return to some semblance of a life I’m familiar with? 

~A

~~ trying to get ahead. If anyone can help with storage this month so I can get a teeny bit ahead of the game… I’d appreciate it.

Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, chronic pain, depression, disability, dragon, health, life, medical, PTSD

1/4: Dragon: #Medical Fuckery #backinjury

I’m no stranger to exam rooms and new doctors. When I was 17, I injured what I later found out to be my low back. It took a year and around 8 doctors to finally find someone who knew what the fuck they were doing and not just verbally “pat me on the head and tell me I’m imagining things.”

I wasn’t.

I’m still not 28 fucking years later.

At 17, I fell and slipped two lumbar discs out of whack. At 18, I found out what had gone wrong and was able to move forward. By 23 or so, those discs were back in place, although the nerve damage was still there and always would be.

About 5 years ago, I lost my footing on some painted stairs in a house and first landed on my tailbone, then shifted my weight so I could try stopping my descent with my feet and hands on the walls. The remaining hits were to my right hip.

Oh yeah, that’s the same side I landed on at 17.

I went to the doctor, they did a lone x-ray of my tailbone. Nothing wrong, so I went on my merry way. Except for that ugly pain in my hip. You shoulda seen the bruise. It was a sizable crescent moon on my right ass-cheek. It took weeks to go away. I’m good at making bruises. In fact, I have several on my arms that I don’t remember where they came from. PT told me to stretch the muscles as it “must be” a deep tissue bruise.

Gee, thanks.

Fast forward to December 1st, 2017. I was at a client’s house (before you ask, as an independent contractor with TR, we do not have things like worker’s comp), stringing up lights and I slipped in some mud and down I went. The landing seemed soft, but my back doesn’t agree. Since then, my right SI (sacroiliac) joint has been popping. To the point where I can not only feel it, but hear it.

When I messed up the left one earlier this year, I never had that. My left one, by the way, corrected itself while I was at GearCon in July. One step and I felt a searing pain. I couldn’t move. I was helped back to my chair, and then moved to the couch in the room I was working. A couple days later, all pain on that side was gone.

I finally caved and saw a doctor in my usual clinic today. Not my normal GP. I thought (hoped) she would be open and would listen…

HA!

Not a fucking chance.

No matter how many times I told her I wasn’t looking for a quick way to fix this. I just wanted some fucking answers and to figure out what the hell was wrong. She responded each time with “There is no one who can give you an answer and a quick fix…”

GGAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM ASKING, YOU FUCKING DINGBAT!!!

All I want is a scan/x-ray/etc to look inside and see if there’s anything that stands out as damaged.

Why do I ask this? Because I know it can be done, dammit. I know there are humans out there who have graduated from medical school who can do shit that helps solve the mystery. Dr. Nolan down in CA was one of those humans. He’s freaking awesome. He’s also retiring and 600 miles away.

She relented on one thing and ordered x-rays for my low back and right hip.

She handed me my visit summary (complete with some exercises that may help, but I’m not counting on it. I’m still fairly flexible from my dancing days). I got on the elevator and stopped off at the 3rd floor for x-rays.

Here’s where shit gets interesting.

I’ve had enough x-rays in my lifetime to make anyone glow. I have never, in all my years, had a tech look at my first one (these are digital now) and tell me I really should see a spine doctor. For starters, the techs don’t have enough training to diagnose. Yet they see enough ‘films’ to know when shit is bad.

My first one, she came out from looking at it and said flat out I really do need to see a spine doctor. She said my right SI joint is bad… and there are likely other things.

I have to wait for the radiologist to do a final report/reading of the x-rays. I see my primary GP next week. I’m gonna bug the ever-loving shit out of her until she refers me to Ortho. The pain is getting worse. By the time I had picked up my mail after my errands today, I could barely walk five steps. I was in THAT much pain. Right around a 9 or 10 on the pain scale. At a point on the scale where I’m holding back tears from the pain.

When I get to that point, shit is bad. As in “most people would be curled up in a fetal position in the corner because of the pain” bad. But me? Still trying to function. Why? BECAUSE I FUCKING HAVE TO!!!

The doc brought up Degenerative Disc Disease. Something my dad likely also dealt with. I know he had surgery on his back several years ago. I know it was before 2009, as my mother was still driving… even though she shouldn’t have been. This doctor also had the cohones to bring up losing weight.

Bitch, please.

For one, I’m not at my highest. Secondly, I’m trying to lose weight. I have about 45-50 extra pounds I’d love to lose. But my eating habits are fairly healthy (not perfect, but not horrid), and exercise is minimal due to this thing called back pain. Walking for weight loss ain’t gonna happen when I can barely walk three fucking blocks. And unless you’re going to pay for my gym membership to a place fairly close to me (Planet Fitness is NOT close to me, for the record), then zip it about joining a gym.

Anyway… so I’m dealing with PTSD/C-PTSD and now likely Degenerative Disc Disease.

I’m beyond fucking done. I am tired of pain and panic attacks. I’m tired of doctors or other people telling me that losing weight will solve ALL my problems. Umm, y’all may not know this, but I was about 110 lbs when I first injured my back at 17… so no, it won’t solve a damn thing. Help a bit? Sure, possibly. But not solve.

I’ve dealt with way more than my share of idiot doctors. I’m sick of ’em. I can count the good ones on one hand with no repeats. Yeah.

I also am at this point where I hate saying I am well and truly disabled… I want to still take day hikes and be active, but my body and my anxiety won’t let me. It sucks.

So, I’ll meander off and try not to focus on the pain.

Much.

~Dragon

Posted in birthdays, chronic pain, depression, disability, family, friends, grief, health, life, medical, music, Personal, Science Fiction and Fantasy, society, writing

11/27: Dad, #NaNoWriMo, and Life

So, today is my dad’s birthday. If he had lived, he’d be 91. I had all these ideas for honoring him today, things I was going to do on the anniversary of his passing, but then decided to do them today. Namely, I was going to go to Ace Hardware and the music store to get some sheet music. Those things primarily because going to Ace was a tradition when I was a kid. I followed my dad everywhere. Especially when working on the house and getting supplies for working on it.

The music store because he was so excited when I said I wanted to save up for a piano. He really wanted me to get back to my music. He died before he saw me get my piano, but getting some sheet music would be fitting.

But coming out of Safeway, my knee gave out and is still hurting an hour or so later, so I need to do as little walking as possible the rest of the day. I figure the honoring will be in doing the two tasks I have that are finishing items the clients couldn’t do. And writing. No matter what we talked about, he always asked about my writing. If I had stalled, he always told me to never give up, to never stop writing because I was too good at it.

This year, for NaNoWriMo, I’m struggling. Maybe it’s from the stress of my current life situation, but it’s been difficult. I can still do it, but it’s going to take a lot of work the next few days. Right now, I’m sitting in a Starbucks downtown with a couple more hours to kill before I head to my other task today. Oh, and a knee that’s swearing at me for existing. I need a gym membership but can’t afford it. I know there isn’t much they can do for my knee. I need to strengthen my leg muscles, especially my thighs where the muscles/tendons connect to my kneecaps.

But enough medical/health crap…

Back to writing and general stuff…

~A

Posted in chronic pain, community, disability, health, homeless, life, medical

11/15: Back Down

Recent pic of Portia begging for a tortilla chip. No, they are not cat food. (Didn’t give one to her)

I’ve lived with sciatica over half my life now. I know when I can “power through it” and when I need to stop and rest. Today is rest. I was on the NB yellow line MAX train that couldn’t continue because of the stabbing on a SB yellow line MAX a few stop north of where I was. The stabbing happened at the Denver stop, but the assailant jumped on the SB train and was apprehended at the Rosa Parks stop. My stop. I was two stops south. There were police, etc at the RP stop. Instead of waiting for the bus bridge to show up, I hoofed it. I regret that now. I didn’t have a lot on me, but that much walking, on top of what I’d already done earlier, my back said, “NOPE! Not gonna do anything today.”

I had an off-book job with a return client set for today. But my back -more precisely my sciatica- said otherwise. If it’s just hitting one spot, such as my hip, I can adapt and work through it. Today, however, the pain is up around a 7 on the scale and it’s radiating down to my knee. 

No bueno.

So, pain meds and rest. Rescheduled for tomorrow. There isn’t much else that can be done for my back and the sciatica. I would like to join a gym and work on the machines to strengthen my back muscles. I proved that I can get the slipped discs back in place with work on the machines. I did that over 20 years ago. Slipped the same discs at 17. I continued to dance and started lifting weights and by 22, the discs were no longer out of whack. 

Sciatica is still there and always will be, but I know I can bring the pain levels and recurrence of severe days like today down… I did it before, I can do it again. No space to dance, but if I can find a close-in gym that’s really affordable, I need to carve out some of my meager income and go.
For now, I rest. My back has informed me that I need to do this. I listen.

~A

Posted in cats, chronic pain, community, crowdfunding, disability, friends, health, homeless, housing, life, medical, Personal, storage

11/12: Pain, Storage, and Life

This has been a weird, wild, crazy, fucked up year. One lesson I’ve learned is to not the universe… because it will come right back and smack you down… hard. I am, reluctantly, asking for a teeny bit of help. I don’t expect miracles.

I make as much as possible from tasks, but as anyone else in the ‘gig economy’ can tell you, it could be booming one week and dry the next. Two weeks ago, I had a handful of tasks. They paid out, I took care of a few bills, but have come up short for storage.

I also want to get ahead of the game for December. I have some empty boxes and a few items to take down to storage, but can’t get in right now due to November not being paid up yet. I may have a task tomorrow, but no confirmation yet. No one task will cover my expenses. Right now I owe 320 or so. I may have half that, but not sure.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep doing furniture assembly with how my back is getting. I have good moments, but the bad moments are getting bigger and more painful. I feel like they missed a lot when I re-injured it in 2012. They only x-rayed my tailbone and the few vertebra above it (which is how I know I re-injured the discs), but there’s pain that doesn’t fit with slipped discs and sciatica. I just want answers.

The pain limits my ability to go on tasks. I’m in the middle of one where I’m just feeding the client’s cat. The walking and bus rides there are back have me down for the count when I get back here to the house.

As for where I’m living… trust me, I’d much prefer to be in my own place, no roommates, no nothing… me and my cat. And eventually a second cat again. But I need steady work first. I met with my VR counselor and she gave me the link for the housing lists. One problem with these: they’re always full and they aren’t always accepting names. This is for low income housing, which is a rare thing here, although more here than other metro regions. In other areas it was either Section 8 or market rate. Here there’s Sec 8, Low Income (subsidized), and market rate. But the lists for Sec 8 are 4-6 years long and low income is nearly as bad.

We will see how things go. Back to stuff…

~A

 

Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, chronic pain, creativity, depression, disability, dreams, empath life, eviction, faith, friends, grad school, grief, health, homeless, housing, insomnia, job hunting, life, medical, Personal, writing

10/21: Living Outside My Own Life

More “frustration contemplation” … bear with me.

I’ve chattered on about the various things I do: writing fiction, etc, costuming, grad school, and a bunch of other things. I’ve also talked -at length- about depression, grief, homelessness, being unemployed, being disabled, etc…

Right now, I feel like I’m not living my life. I’m trying to move forward, busted my ass and made promises to get back to school and finish this term, but I’m flailing again… each week flies by me and I look up to find myself even further behind and royally fucked. My own doing. Job hunting is the same. I feel removed from the life I’m supposed to be living.

My health hasn’t helped this, but neither has being homeless and jobless, and … yeah. I know I need to do X, Y, and Z… but I don’t … I… fuck it. This is difficult to put into words on a ‘page.’

I see ME doing all these things in my head. I KNOW I can do them, but I feel like… like there’s a door between the me I am at this moment and the me who can do all those things. That door is locked and deadbolted and can’t be gotten through. And I don’t know where the keys are. I know they exist, but not what they look like or where they may be. I feel as if I’m standing at the window next to the door, looking in. Seeing this other me accomplishing things. But she can’t hear me banging on the window and door to let me in.

Every time I try to jump back in, break down that door, the brain fog returns. The disconnectedness. The feeling like my life is RIGHT FUCKING THERE!!! and it’s just out of reach. I can hear it, smell it, see it… but I can’t step into it and DO it.

Is my being “in between” [i.e. homeless] part of it? Likely. Is being jobless for over two years part of it? Very likely. Nothing like spinning your wheels in a job hunt and getting nowhere. The rare interview I do get, I don’t get hired. Despite the fact that my VR coach has said I interview very well.

I feel as if I can’t fully be ME where I am. Not my kitchen, not my bed, not my bathroom, not my home.

A lot of it started when I lost my dad in 2014. Before I was evicted. My dad was my anchor in life. If I felt lost, I could call him and he’d say what was needed to get me back to center. It’s been nearly 3 years now. A couple of weeks away. I slowly began to slip after he died. I was able to keep shit together to some degree for a while, but over a year later, my own disintegration became more obvious. The fog settled in. It lifts every so often for a brief moment or two, then returns to envelope me, keeping me from my life.

It’s looking -to me at least, from my own digging around- that Chronic Fatigue/Adrenal Fatigue is a distinct possibility. Long term stress makes it worse. Look at my life of the past 12 months… it’s been pretty fucking stressful. But getting out of this mess. How?

CFS/AFS has no cure. Doctors treat the symptoms at best. I’m on Vitamin D (enough to choke a large farm animal), and Celexa, among other meds for things like my asthma and allergies, my tachycardia, and “as needed” pain meds.

Is my current living situation part of the issue? The late start to mornings here… the people I’m staying with are retirees, so they stay up late and get up late. I stay up to about 11 and try to get up at a reasonable hour in the morning (Furry Alarm Clock gives me no choice), but I’m groggy and stumble around. Fall back asleep and wake up a few hours later… late morning. There are other “environmental factors” as well, but I won’t go into those. And no, setting an alarm doesn’t help. Tried that. Keep trying it every so often.

But that brain fog… lack of oomph… standing outside of my life… I don’t know how to fix that.

~A

Posted in anxiety, C-PTSD, cats, chronic pain, community, depression, disability, eviction, faith, friends, gender, health, history, individuality, job hunting, life, medical, Personal, PTSD, sexual assault, society

10/16: Wake Up Tomorrow #metoo

TW/CW: Talk of suicide, sexual assault, C-PTSD, etc…

I’ve talked about all of these things in spades over the lifespan of this blog. With the #metoo tag flying around on FB and Twitter the last two days, I felt like expanding on mine.

Now, I have (at some point) ticked off all the times I was sexually assaulted.

  • At 17, by a 22 y.o. acquaintance.
  • At 19, by a blind date. Tried to force me to perform oral on him, pushing my head down. I broke free and threatened to call the police.
  • At 19, by a guy I met at a Twelfth Night event… friends invited him to our Rocky Horror outing later that evening. While he had been in costume, he was mostly a gentleman (save for trying to un-lace my bodice in public)
  • At 21/22. After 6 weeks in an increasingly abusive relationship, I started to pull away from him, which he noticed. He spent the next 2 and a half months raping and assaulting me (using various areas of my body to ‘get his rocks off’) all against my will. I cried, I begged, I said no every damn time, but even making me bleed repeatedly didn’t matter to him. This happened 2-3 times a week… on a good week.

Those are the major, or most distinctive, events. Getting catcalled, being told by some older guy in Chicago (as we passed each other in the crosswalk) that “damn, you got some bigguns!” … no matter what I’m wearing, what my body language is saying (usually “don’t fucking get near me, asshole”), what I’m doing, I’ve had hands brush against my butt, breasts, etc… hands that should stay up near my shoulders wandering down… at a club one night (partly why I fucking HATE clubs) getting dragged out onto the dance floor and made to dance with some stranger, who kept putting his hand on my thigh and slipping it up to my hip under my skirt (which wasn’t that fucking long to begin with). I was 18, I think. It was an “Under 21” club.

Do I need to go on? I think I’ve made my point.

This shit happens every damn day to women of all skin colors, sexualities, cis or trans… you name it. Fuck, I got catcalled just a month or so ago… wearing all baggy grungy clothes heading to the MAX stop (I think I was going to an appt or something). Me with my mohawk and baggy clothes and beat up sneakers and a cane… getting catcalled.


I’ve also, as I think I’ve said in previous posts, had many phases or short contemplations of suicide. High school, a period in my 30’s when my asshole doctor decided to put me on Prozac, which made me want to slit my fucking wrists so badly, it outdid the suicidal ideations of my high school years. That shit fucked me up so badly.

In the past couple of years, I’ve had shorter bursts of contemplating it. Usually when I’ve been in full panic mode over possible eviction as well as earlier this year with the eviction itself. I lost count how many times I sat on my bed or my couch … or in the bathtub … thinking of why the fuck I should keep living? Then I got either of the girls, Portia or JoJo when she was still alive, just coming up to me and purring and either nudging me or tapping my arm or leg with a paw.


Life isn’t easy. I’m dealing with C-PTSD, my asshole ex cyberstalking me like I’m his damn “internet chew toy” … being homeless in a tentative situation that needs to come to an end, but my means to get back into my own place again are virtually non-existent. Trying to finish grad school, find decent work, organize my stuff in storage, handle medical and dental appts, go on tasks to make some income, and remember to take my meds and eat decently. Some of those, especially the later things I listed, are basic, normal-ish things I can handle… working all the big stuff around them is the hardest part. With chronic fatigue and pain, getting up at a decent hour that isn’t close to noon, but earlier in the day, is not always easy to do.


So, you may wonder what the subject heading of this post means… here’s my lesson and philosophy behind it:

Look back up at all the shit I’ve been through. Add verbal and emotional abuse by some family, used and abused by people I thought were friends, etc… I’ve dealt with a lot.

Wake Up Tomorrow

I adopted this years ago during a bad run… I think it was later in high school. Say you had one of THE shittiest days you can remember in recent months. Everything went wrong and in some seemingly catastrophic way, or at least that’s how it feels. You may already be battling a period of depression or severe pain. You contemplate ending things. You’re absolutely SURE tomorrow is going to also suck and you can’t imagine things getting better any time soon.

So you think about it.

But you can’t guarantee tomorrow will suck. Shit, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. Maybe it’ll suck, maybe it’ll be awesome, but you won’t know unless you wake up tomorrow. And the days following it. You can’t know for sure that it’ll be horrendously awful. Unless you wake up tomorrow. Go to sleep, get some rest, cry if you need to (man, I’m surprised the tear stains aren’t permanent on my face by now), and wake up tomorrow. Sounds simple, I know. Take each and every day as it comes.

Will that work for everyone dealing with shit? No. I know it works for me. I’ve had friends and a few strangers, in the past 24 hours or so, call me brave. I’ve done therapy off and on since I was 16. I understand so much about my past, but I don’t really know how I’m getting through it… except for one thing:

I wake up every day.

I’ve had close calls, due to medical stuff, not attempts on my part, and they’ve taught me this: Not everyone gets the chance to wake up the next day. No one knows when they’re going to die. The fact that, despite pain and all kinds of other things, I wake up every day and am able to feed my floofy monster kitty, that my heart is still pumping blood, my lungs are still taking in oxygen, my legs work… mostly. I have those days when my legs/back/feet/hips/knees/etc just rebel and go, “nope!! what was that about going somewhere today? yeah… not happening, bitch.”

Life isn’t easy. But I figure that as long as I keep waking up every day, I have a fighting chance to make things better. Never know unless you wake up.

~A

Posted in bugaboos, chronic pain, disability, health, life, medical, Personal

10/12: “Back” History

Me doing a few dishes is another reminder of how fucked my back is and yet how little can be done medically… ten minutes rinsing dishes and such… just… ow.
For those who may not know my “back” story:
I first injured it slipping and falling on ice when I was 17, halfway through my senior year of high school (this, for those who know me from high school, is why I started using a cane after Spirit Week).
It took a year and going through about 8 docs to find one who didn’t look at my age and dismiss me. Dr. Nolan. Best damn Ortho in the region (SF/Bay Area) He found the two slipped discs in my low back. These put pressure on my sciatic nerve.
Fast forward 5 years and, despite the nerve pain, the discs were no longer slipped out of alignment. I had still been dancing during those years, whenever I wasn’t in pain. The sciatica flared up time to time, but with being active, it wasn’t as severe.
Then about 4-5 years ago, I slipped on some painted wood stairs and first hit my tailbone, then turned to brace my hands and feet against the walls, but still bounced down on my right hip, the same one from when I was 17.
I went to the doctor as the bruising was QUITE colorful and… sizable. I had a massive horseshoe shaped bruise on my right ass cheek. Yes, there are pictures… no, you may not see them.
They did a single x-ray of my tailbone, found no issues and told me to ice it and be more careful. In the radiologist report of that x-ray, I found they mentioned the same two vertebrae from years ago were a bit out of place. Familiar situation…
I asked, and have still every so often, for an x-ray of my hip and right side of my pelvis, to no avail. This pain in that hip is still VERY prevalent, especially when I’m using my cane (which is every time I go out. when I’m at ‘home’ I know there are things I can lean on or sit on if needed, but when I’m out and about, I can’t be sure, so the cane comes with me) and carrying nearly anything more than 2 pounds in my left hand (because of the most recent SI joint pain, the cane is usually in my right hand, but I will switch when needed as both sides are pretty fucked up).
Hence part of my post from last night about my tools and tool box. That fucker is heavy. Likely closer to 10-12 pounds when loaded up. My new mallet doesn’t help that, as it’s not a lightweight itself.
I’ve put up with it for almost 28 years (February will be the actual ‘anniversary’ of the first injury). There isn’t much that they can do surgically… in fact there really isn’t anything they can do surgically. I can’t afford a gym membership to help strengthen the muscles. I don’t have the space to try any dancing here. One thing I wish they would do is to just x-ray my damn hip and see if there is real damage. If I didn’t have medicaid, I’d just start doc-hopping like I did that first year.
Also, if I were closer, I’d go back to Dr. Nolan and I know damn well he’d help me solve the mystery. He’s closing in on retirement and mentoring someone else to take over his practice. He’s one of THE best Orthos in the SF/Bay Area. Just wish it hadn’t taken a year to find him. I’ve asked to get a referral to Ortho here, but they apparently only will take cases that have a viable chance of surgery… personally, I think that’s a huge mistake. There’s so much more that can be done.

I’ve injured other things over the years: both knees, left ankle, both feet in some way, had two or three minor concussions… it sucks ass… trust me.

But my back? That’s the one that’s never going away. Never will truly heal. And it makes every day life difficult at times.
Like doing dishes.
~A
Posted in birthdays, community, creativity, depression, dreams, faith, friends, health, individuality, life, medical, Personal, semicolon

10/2: Birthday Post

So, today was/is my birthday. I have never been ashamed of my age. I celebrate each birthday. The main reason is simply because I’ve had far too many episodes in my life where I almost didn’t make it to the next day.

Today, I turned 45.

I also turned 9.

Nine years ago, I was in the hospital fighting this nasty infection called Cellulitis. It’s essentially a Staph infection (there are many types) that comes in through a primary infected wound (in my case, my left ear piercing decided that, after 20 years, it really didn’t like nickel or some other metal) and settles just under the skin. For me, it settled at the base of my neck on my right side

I was sent to the hospital on September 26th with a white blood cell count that was somewhere hovering around the moon. After tests, pre-dawn blood draws, massive doses of the antibiotic Vancomycin, a mild case of pneumonia, and a bunch of things… I was discharged mid-afternoon on October 2nd… my birthday. My 36th birthday to be exact.

So, to grasp how bad shit was, there are three stages of Cellulitis:

  1. redness and swelling in and around the affected area, pain and stiffness, fever in many cases.
  2. if there are lymph nodes in the area, they absorb some of the infection and swell up. the fever tends to peak and then break (I hit 103.2 or so, then 24 hours later, no fever). My lymph nodes were the size of ping-pong balls when I walked into the ER on the 26th. They shouldn’t get that big. Really.
  3. From the lymph nodes, the infection starts to spread, called ‘going septic.’ I could feel it going up my neck to my brain and across to my heart. If it had hit either, I would not be alive today.

I was in 3rd stage.

There. Is. No. Fourth. Stage.

Unless, as I like to joke, you count a body bag as a stage.

So, I almost fucking died. Not an experience I’d like to ever repeat. Until I’m old and grey. I never want Cellulitis again… ever. It is NOT a fun experience.

As I was deemed well enough to leave the hospital on my actual birthday, I celebrate not only the number of years since I showed up on this planet, but the number of years since I had a second chance.

I keep asking for gift certificates to the LEGO store, but no one ever does it… LEGO and IKEA.

But for that one year… I got the gift of a second chance. I’m doing my best to not waste it.

One lesson I learned from that experience is this:

No matter how cliche it seems, you really never know how long you have. You may not wake up tomorrow. So stop hesitating. Go back to school for that degree you’ve always wanted. Save up for that “bucket list” vacation. Make shit happen. Want to learn to paint? DO IT! Volunteer with an animal rescue? Do it. What else? The way I see it is that as long as it isn’t illegal, so way out of the boundaries of morality, or has a surefire risk of death, go for it. Step out of your comfort zone and “learn to fly!” If you’re fortunate to make it to “old age,” the goal is to be able to sit in your rocking chair and look back at your life and have as few regrets as possible. Instead of “I wish I had done ________” you can say, “I did this and it was an incredible experience.”

~A