Monday, December 29, 2008

Why Do I Bother?

I hate doctors. Not personally, not as human beings, just in general. I hate calling to make an appointment. I hate to go. I hate to be there and in most cases, I'm annoyed when I leave. And that's even before the bill arrives in my mailbox.

Today was double whammy doctor day. If you recall past musings, I have this rash. It's reached the point of covering the bottoms of both of my feet and itches like hell so I finally made an appt with my friendly NP. I rather like her - for a medical type person. She asked pertinent questions, looked at the bumps on my forearm and then got out her magnifying thing and looked at my feet. Contact dermatitis. My sister had already assumed that, as had I due to the whole laundry detergent change thing. Now it's confirmed, mostly. So I have a nifty new cream to put on that's supposed to effect some improvement in 3-5 days. I'm hoping it does cuz it's getting pretty irritating, no pun intended.

That having gone fairly well, I went to lunch with a friend while waiting until the second appt. This one with my shrink. It's not that I don't like my shrink. She seems to be a lovely person and we've had some interesting chats about Hinduism; by all accounts she's a Hindu, however she doesn't seem to listen very well. Or maybe she thinks I'm a pain in the ass or full of shit; I'm not sure, and frankly, it doesn't matter. I pay her, she writes scripts, that's about it.

My drugs aren't working very well lately. That may be the drugs or the weather or my particularly bizarre metabolism and brain chemistry but regardless, they aren't working very well. So I went in, chatted about what might be done about that and she put me on a drug I've been on before. Twice. It didn't work then. So....hmm.... Now her logic isn't all bad. It did work for a while the first time I was on it way back in the stone age of my psychiatric experiences. It worked for about 6 months. Then it didn't. She put me on it a year ago thinking since it HAD worked briefly at one time, maybe it would again. Some miraculous change in my chemistry had perhaps taken place in the interim. I dunno what the hell she was thinking but it didn't work so we moved on to other fascinating examples of pharmacology.

So now I'm supposed to go back on this one. Theoretically, it'll work now because I'm on something else as well. I get that logic but still...is something that doesn't work supposed to work just because I'm taking something else that isn't working? Obviously, psychiatry is not an exact science.

She tends to do the shrink equivalent of rolling her eyes at me when we talk about meds. Been on this one; been on that one; this one made me comatose; that one made me barf for three months; this other one made me want to climb a tall building with a high powered rifle. This next one made me gain 60 lbs and yet another one dilated one of my eyes for a couple of months so I got to sit in a darkened living room with sunglasses on until it righted itself. All the fun stuff that accompanies the introduction of psychotropic drugs into my bloodstream.

In order to get more bang for my buck, I like to cover multiple things while at the doctor, any doctor, so while there, I asked her about memory loss and the medication my husband is taking. Now I know it can cause memory loss because I've read about it and confirmed it with my sister who knows such things. So the stuff can cause memory loss and it's really not that uncommon for it to do so. Since my husband can't seem to remember things I've told him only hours or a day before, I asked her about it. In the most benign way. Like, "Can such and such cause memory loss?" She said, "Yes, it can but doesn't normally," so I told her hubby can't remember anything and she said, "he drinks wine", to which I responded, "yes, he does". She decided he can't remember a fucking thing because he drinks wine. I couldn't think of anything to say to that because although I know excessive drinking can lead to blackouts and memory loss, in addition to alcoholic psychosis and other lovely things, he doesn't drink 4 bottles of wine a day and his memory was fine until a few months ago. He actually imbibes less on the medication than he did before he went on it so why can't he remember anything all of a sudden?

I'm sure someone will pipe up and say that it's because the effects of alcohol can be cumulative, which we all know since it trashes your liver over time, but...but...I'm still not buying it. If drinking wine causes a person to lose their memory, why aren't the vast majority of Europeans walking around looking for their car keys and forgetting where they live? How does anyone get anything done? Does everyone have a pocket tape recorder that they glue to their foreheads so once they've recorded what they need to remember, they'll remember they recorded it when they look in the mirror and find it attached to their faces?

And here's another thing while I'm at it. I quit working about 9 years ago. It wasn't something I wanted to do but employers tend to frown on their employees bursting into tears for no reason, so I quit. I went on disability because my docs and social security all decided I was disabled enough to not be able to hold a "real" job. Why doesn't my current shrink get this? She keeps thinking she's going to "fix" me. It'd be cool if she could/did but I'm not holding my breath. I've been down that road. So today after all the rigamarole, she asked if I've gotten a job yet. Um...NO. And let me say, NO GODDAMN IT. And thanks so much for making me feel like a total useless loser piece of shit right after I told you I feel like shit and the drugs aren't working. This time I'm sending her a fucking bill.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Sister


My sister had beautiful hands. Like my mother. Like mine when I was young. Long, narrow fingers, delicate wrists, nails that needed no polish just a quick file now and then. My sister had beautiful hands, and now she doesn't.

My sister had a young woman's feet. Shapely and feminine. Always ready for travel. In moccasins. Carrying her into her future with a grace she never knew she had. My sister had a young woman's feet, and now she doesn't.

My sister had a sparkle in her eye, a zest for life, dreams of a bright future. She had fun. She was fun incarnate. She drew others in with her humor, her willingness to play, the effervescence that emanated from her when she was happy. She looked to her future, her potential, her possibilities and they were endless. And she knew she could, she would, reach them. And she did. And now she doesn't.

My sister was my hero. My hope and dreams for myself. My desire to be fun, charming, witty, loved and desired. My sister was all I wished to be and wasn't.

My sister is hurt and hurts and still she smiles and looks forward and shares herself. And gives and loves but now she cries and breaks my heart. And makes me wish that I was the one. That I could take the pain and sadness and loss. Upon myself and leave her whole. Once more and joyful. With all the possibilities before her. To once again share her charm and vibrance and zest. All the things that she is. And was. And is. And she is my hero still. And more.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Bane of Driving

It continues to be winter here in the arctic tundra and with glaring clarity it came to me today that I must be getting old. I've never been particularly fond of winter but every year I piss and moan as the season approaches and every year I think the pissing and moaning gets louder and more maudlin. The cold, snowy, freezing rain, toe bump, cold fingers but still have to feed the animals season. And I still have to drive.

When I was younger I just got in the car or truck and went wherever it was I was going. I suppose it didn't occur to me to just stay home when there was a snowstorm in progress or when there was 8" of snow on the roads and no plows in sight. It just didn't matter because I knew how to drive. I knew not to go 75 mph on icy roads. I knew to start hitting the brake a bit sooner. I knew that if the car started to slide I should take my lead foot off of the gas so as to not further encourage said sliding. And it wasn't a big deal. It wasn't even annoying. It was just winter.

I've put several vehicles in the ditch during winters past. It was, again, annoying but not a big deal. If I couldn't get out of the ditch myself, I'd go back to the side of road and catch a ride to the nearest gas station to call a tow truck. Truck would come, guy would yank my sorry ass out of the snow bank and off I'd go to my destination. No big deal.

I grew up in Iowa. It snows a lot in Iowa. It blows and drifts and is generally miserable in Iowa. I don't recommend going to Iowa between October and March; trust me on this one. My father taught me to drive in an old Ford F-150 with a 3 speed on the column and a clutch that slipped. I believe he did that on purpose. He took me to the top of the steepest hill in my hometown and had me get the truck to go forward without rolling backward first. We did it over and over until the truck went forward without going backward and that's when he decided I knew how to drive. When he taught us to drive, he really did teach us to drive. I could drive anything. In any weather. And it was no big deal.

On New Year's Eve 1984, I decided to go out drinking so I hopped in the Pinto (yes, I admit it, a Pinto), ran down to the bar, had a couple beers (I drank beer back then), hopped back into the Pinto, entry into which by the way was either through the passenger door and shimmy over the shifter or through the driver's side window, and headed back to the apartment. I made it within a couple of miles before getting stuck right smack in the middle of the busiest intersection in Davenport (yes, Iowa). There I sat. Stuck tight in 10" or so of snow and more coming down. You could say I was an optimistic 18 year old driver or you could say I was just plain clueless but it never occurred to me to stay home like a rational person. So I sat in the intersection spinning my tires until two good-looking, strapping, young Iowa guys came, grinned at me and pushed me out. They didn't think I was a moron because they, too, were driving around in a miserable snowstorm in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve. No big deal.

When I moved in Indiana and the powers that be would close the interstate, I'd still hop in the Firebird, by then I had a Firebird, and go to town to drink tea and read the paper. Everyone I knew thought I was nuts but 3" of snow is nothing when you're from Iowa, whether they plow or not. That's, like, October in Iowa. No big deal. Put 100 lbs of sand or cat litter in the back and off you go.

So what happened? Now I'd rather stay home with no groceries than drive around in this crap and I have 4 WD for crying out. Or I did anyway until a recent trip to Green Bay, WI during yet another snowstorm when it was discovered to my dismay that 4 WD wasn't working. Egads! Oh My! How can I possibly drive in the snow without 4 WD? We'll slide off the road and die a horrible death in the blasted snow! I'm old and spoiled, I suppose.

Have I just gotten old and imaginative enough to realize that it's dangerous to drive around in a snowstorm? Or have I figured out that other people are stupid and don't know how to drive in the snow? Have I turned into a complete winter-weeny? My husband barrels down the road at 75 mph sun, rain or snow and he doesn't even blink. He slides around a bit and never gets the least bit nervous unless I start sucking air - you know the air sucking thing....then he gets pissed at me. Oh well.

So now, apparently, it's a big deal. Why is that? It's not that I thought I was invincible when I was younger; I wasn't one of those kids. I knew I could die and I was pretty much okay with that anyway but snow wasn't a cause for alarm. Now I find myself asking myself, as well as most people I come in contact with, "Why the hell do we live in Northern Illinois?" Interestingly enough, none of us have a good reason and we all think we're nuts to stay here. I can't imagine living in Canada or Alaska or even Minnesota during the winter. THOSE people are nuts.

Bears have the right idea. I'm tellin' ya. Fatten up on berries and small children in the sunshine and then take a nap when it sucks outside. I'd much rather be a bear.