Monday, June 11, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: Living With Borderline and Bipolar: No Sex or Romance

The person I was when I was younger had a tendency to choose extremely toxic "favorite people." This was a double-edged sword because I tended to be drawn to men who were "broken" in a predatory and abusive way and would try to fix them. I would end up badly hurt and would turn the anger inward on myself, hurting myself even more.
I have a lot of trouble forgiving my younger self. She did a lot of stupid, self-destructive shit and put herself in a lot of bad situations. It wasn't until I was in my forties that I finally started working some of the issues out. Hey, lo and behold, that was after I was finally properly diagnosed with type 2 bipolar. I was able to start working on some of the issues that were causing me misery and to heal the most important relationship that I will ever have: the one with my son.
When I write, romance is still a part of my stories, but I have no desire for a romantic relationship. It makes me angry that we women (and, to some extent, men too) were fed the bullshit that we have to be in a romantic relationship or having lots of really hot porny sex with hot porny strangers every night. Some of us don't want those things at all. For some of us, those situations are extremely destructive. This doesn't make us incomplete people at all, and I'm tired of a world that tells those who prefer to fly solo, perhaps with platonic friends for company, that we are some sort of half-person. We are not. 
Sex and relationships are not a requirement for everybody. It doesn't make you weird or a fuckup if you don't want one.
Saying that for my benefit as much as anything. I need to remind myself sometimes.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Living Disabled in the United States

People with disabilities should not be treated with scorn and forced into a life of poverty.
For my own part, there are still things I can do. They just aren't the things I could do before. 
That doesn't make me "lazy" or "lesser," although sometimes I do feel like I'm "less" because I can no longer carry cases of beer up multiple flights of stairs as I did when I was a bartender, or help patients with mobility impairments to the bed, their wheelchair, the toilet, and sometimes off the floor.
I can deliver stuff. Y'all fuckers need stuff delivered, right? 
I just can't lift heavy stuff or climb multiple flights of stairs.
I can do clerical work. I just can't do it 9 to 5. Working normal people hours literally puts me into a horrible state of clinical depression because my circadian rhythms are totally whackadoodie.
I need access to a bathroom because my medical conditions and some of the medications I take make me pee a lot.
Other than that, my disabled ass is ready, willing, and able to work.
Putting value judgments on the type of work I can do doesn't help either. 
I do it to myself, which doesn't help.
I am actually no less valuable as a human being working delivering food than I was working as a nurse.
Nursing may be a more "noble" profession, but us non-noble plebes serve a necessary purpose too.
Making us live in poverty for being ignoble against our will due to health problems (both physical and mental) is, in fact, the sign of a failed society.
Now, I would like to address chronic pain.
I have chronic pain. My pain is usually low-grade. It's all over my body, it's constant, and it makes me tired all the time. It isn't what causes the activity intolerance I've been experiencing for the past year, though. I've had low-grade chronic widespread pain since I hit puberty, which coincides with when my thyroid decided it was going to immolate itself from within.
The approximately two months I spent with chronic severe pain in my left arm were a different beast entirely. I would gladly have taken any kind of painkiller that someone had thrown my way. I couldn't sit up for more than about 45 minutes. Typing anything was hell. I had to lay on the arm to try and make it go to sleep. If I was lucky, I'd end up falling asleep too.
I can't imagine living with pain like that every day for the rest of my life. 
Fortunately for me, physical therapy helped and at this point I only have numbness and tingling in the arm. That will probably never resolve, but it's a good trade. At least I can function.
When we tell people who live with chronic severe pain that they're being dramatic or exhibiting "drug-seeking behavior," it shows how little the person saying such a thing understands. In fact, it says a lot more (and not anything very good) about the person making the statement than it does about the sufferer.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Harry's touching gesture helped heal wounds with dad Charles

I had a difficult relationship with my father, who passed away on July 8, 2012. I've always worn my emotions on my sleeve. He tended to be very rigid. Our relationship did warm up as we got older. I came to realize that he really did love me. He had just been raised that men don't show overt emotion.
I was angry for more than a year after he died. I was so happy with the progress we were making, and it felt like it had been cut short. I'm at peace with his passing now. I think we healed our relationship. I just wish we'd had a little more time to enjoy the new bond we'd formed.
By the way, I think Duchess Meghan is adorable.


The Cheese Grates It Long And Hard: Self-Analysis: Why Did I Apply For A Job I Don't Want?

Dean Winchester is right as rain. 
My definition of crazy is repeatedly doing the same thing that never worked before and hoping it will work this time.
So, considering that I do not want to work in healthcare again, that I hate being a slave to the time clock, and that I have multiple health issues which mean that not losing Medicaid is critical, what the fuck did I go and apply for a job as an overnight caregiver for the elderly for?
I'm not sure what order to do this analysis in, so I guess I'll start by reviewing the pros and cons of my current job.

Pros: I never HAVE to go to work. 
I am solely responsible for whether or not I work. 
I will not be penalized by a boss or company for not working. I don't have a set hour when I need to show up. I sign in when I get there. Nobody will be shaking their finger at me and telling me I should have been there at X time or that I need to work X number of days and hours. 
Sometimes the payout is really good. 
It's easy to monitor when I'm reaching the cutoff limit to be able to keep Medicaid.
I don't have to request time off. If I want to go to an event, I just go. If I'm sick, I don't have to call in. I just don't go to work that day.
I can easily change my schedule.
Other than not driving like a shithead and getting in an accident or hitting a pedestrian, I am not responsible for anyone's well-being. I am responsible for dropping the customer's order off in a timely manner and being polite. That's all. 

Cons: I never HAVE to go to work. 
I am solely responsible for whether or not I work. I don't have a set time when I need to show up. 
I work for a fee of $4.50 per delivery plus tips. So if the customer is a cheap-ass and business is slow, I might be making less than minimum wage.
I don't get benefits or paid time off.
Wear and tear on my car is significant.
My job is not socially significant. I am not "giving back to the community" when I do this job. It is not a "helping" profession. It is not a credentialed position. Other than a driver's license and basic common sense, one does not need to possess a specific skill set to do this job. It does not take "a special kind of person" to do this job.

Now, let's look a little deeper into some of this.
I worked as a caregiver of one variety or another for a cumulative of approximately 25 years between 1988 and 2017.
I suffered major health reversals in 2017. Where I used to be able to work long hours at very physically demanding jobs, I am no longer able to do so. 
I lost my job as a homecare nurse for pediatric patients in mid-March of 2017. I fell into a deep sleep while working an overnight shift and woke up to see the patient's father sitting on the bed glaring at me. Judging by the last time I had looked at the clock, I had been very soundly asleep for about 20 minutes. I did not recall falling asleep. I came to from a deep, dark, dreamless state. 
In analyzing some of the symptoms I have presented with following this moment, I believe I had a small stroke (CVA) as opposed to a TIA. A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, does not leave lasting symptoms. A TIA is an indicator that a patient is at higher risk for a future stroke than a person who has never had a TIA. However, in and of itself, a TIA does not leave lasting damage.
I do not have memory problems and even people close to me would not see anything different in my presentation. However, my cognition was altered after this event in subtle ways. I have more trouble multitasking. The way I write has changed to a degree. Not stylistically, but in the method I use to approach writing. I used to pride myself on being able to take multiple writing prompts and use them to create flash fiction. It is more difficult for me to do that at this point.
This issue became markedly apparent when I tried to go back to work in a long-term care setting last summer and was compounded by the problems created by my diabetes. Although I understood each of the factors in the patient care equation, I could not put these factors into action. 
This is the equation:
Patient X needs medication Y at Hour Z, while Patient B needs medication C at Hour Z. Multiply the number of patients by 30. They all need medications at around the same time.
This sort of thing was not a problem for me in the past. However, I stood there staring at the screen, knowing who the patient was, what the drug was, what the drug was used for, which patient should be tended to first, given the particulars of their medications. I knew all these things, and I was unable to act. It was a subtle but critical problem.
The confusion was compounded by the fact that it was impossible to take a break, and my blood sugar tanked.
I could no longer do the kind of work that I had always been so proud of being able to do: hard work with long hours helping extremely impaired people. No time for breaks: you're on the go from the time you hit the floor and often have to stay after the shift has ended to finish charting. The demands on nurses and aides in a long-term care setting are completely unrealistic if I'm to be honest. The profession has a high rate of burnout and injury.
The job I'm applying for would involve working one-on-one with a single patient.
I will examine the pros and cons of this job.

Steady paycheck
Overnight shift. I know that most people think this would be a con, but I don't do well working day shifts, so, for me, it's a pro.
Benefits including PTO.
Being able to feel "good" about myself for working in a "helper" profession.
I am experienced in doing this sort of work.
Not feeling like I need to lie to my relatives about what I do.
My mother and brother think I work as a medical courier. If they knew I delivered food, they'd be browbeating me to look for another job.
I wouldn't have to quit my current job.

Slave to the damn time clock
Having to beg for time off
I don't know if I can physically do this kind of work at this point with the reversals I've suffered in my own health.
I really don't want to be responsible for someone else's well-being.

Now, a look at what's going on inside my skull.

I used to be able to work a lot. I used to work 60 hour weeks. I used to work two jobs. I was proud of my ability to do those things. I was making $40,000 a year.
I was working in a helper profession. My family could be proud of me. I was doing good for society.

Truth be told, I was miserable a lot of the time. 

I am the kind of person who prefers soft deadlines. I like being able to be someplace at "around three o' clock" as opposed to having to be there at three, but, really, you'd better be there 15 minutes early, and if you aren't, you're a horrible person who is inconveniencing others.

It's stressful being responsible for someone else's well-being. Yes, there's a sense of satisfaction with doing jobs where one is responsible for others' well-being. I experienced that satisfaction many times. However, if I'm honest, I also often experienced the feeling that I really wished I never had to do it again.

I am the sort of person who tends to put other people's needs before mine. There are situations where I don't mind this. If it comes down to my son or me, my son will always come first. However, this tendency can become pathological, particularly if you are someone who has difficulty saying "no."
At the point when I was fired from my homecare nursing job in 2017, I was working between 48-60 hours per week. I had two patients through my main job and one that I worked with every other week through a second job. 
I was extremely physically ill as well as having my usual health problems at the point when the sleeping incident occurred. My coordinator reasoned that since I had contracted the illness from the patient I worked with three nights a week, I could continue working with him since I couldn't re-infect him as he was already infected. This illness was respiratory in nature, either flu or bronchitis. 
I had been having more and more trouble staying awake for a full twelve hours prior to the incident that cost me my job. 
I didn't feel that I could be honest about my health problems with my coordinator. He would often talk about how they were going to get rid of the nurse who worked the four-day week with my main patient and have me take over her shifts. This woman had lupus and so tended to have to take time off. I would often end up covering some of her shifts. Given the way the coordinator talked about replacing her, I didn't feel like I could be honest about my own health problems.
My coordinator had a very demanding personality and working for that company came to feel like I was in an abusive marriage. When I applied for work with a company where I would be doing a different kind of nursing, my coordinator called me outside of business hours while I was with a patient to cuss me out and tell me that I needed to commit to the company because they only gave regular cases to nurses they could "depend on."
I pointed out that I wasn't looking to change jobs, just to diversify and to have a fallback for the down-times that are inevitable with homecare. He reiterated that they needed to be able to rely on me to be faithful to the company or they couldn't offer me full-time work. 
I said "fine, put me on PRN then."
He didn't expect that answer. 
I ended up with three different coordinators begging me to commit to the company. They offered me a raise. I ended up doing what they wanted, but part of me knew that it was a mistake. I don't like controlling partners, and this company had become a controlling partner.
I'm monogamous in romantic partnerships. An employment situation is an open marriage, as far as I'm concerned. I have no shame in admitting that I'm going to go with the employer that offers me the best deal and that I'm always on the lookout for a better deal. If employers want to keep employees, they need to treat them right. 

Now, I want to examine a factor which comes to me courtesy of the absolutely corrupt, massively fucked up, batshit insane healthcare system in the United States.
When I only had hypothyroidism to deal with, I could roll with whatever crap-ass insurance an employer offered. I only had to get lab draws once a year. I now have a myriad of other health problems, including diabetes and glaucoma. I have to get labs done quarterly. I have to have two specialized eye exams every year.
There are a lot of (shitty) insurance plans out there. Most employers offer full-time employees some sort of shitty insurance.
Most doctors take one variety of shitty insurance but not others.
I don't know what sort of insurance this employer offers. I will ask them today and see if it's a plan that my current provider takes.
If not, I either can't work full time so as not to lose Medicaid, or I have to work full time and then buy shitty insurance from the healthcare marketplace. If I suffer further reversals in my health and have to apply for Medicaid again, there will be a waiting period. Anything not covered by the shitty, high-cost insurance will have to be paid for out of pocket. 
The cutoff I can earn on a monthly basis and keep Medicaid is $1000 a month.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Thing is, once I get through paying the $250 per month on the low-end premium for the shitty health insurance, plus paying for doctor visits and medications, I might be just as well off continuing to work part-time so I can keep Medicaid. 
So, tell me again how we don't need universal healthcare and how everyone who receives Medicaid and/or SNAP is "lazy." Everything costs so fucking much that sometimes people don't have a choice.
I don't qualify for SNAP because I refuse to liquidate my 401K from the job that I had for close to 11 years. If I don't touch it until retirement age, it will be worth $50,000. I want to leave that to my son when I go tits up. If I liquidate it now, I lose about $18,000 of it. That doesn't sound like a very good deal to me. Consequently, I'm hungry a lot.
So, yeah, we folks who have to make use of the welfare programs are really riding high on the hog. 
The welfare queen is a myth.
It is unconscionable to punish people for being sick or disabled. In fact, I think it's downright evil.
You know what's hard to do when you're hungry?
Be motivated.
Be hopeful.
Work hard.
You know what else is shitty?
Looking down on people who choose to work in service professions such as non-high-end food-related jobs, i.e. bartenders, waitstaff, counter help, and delivery personnel. Believing that people in such jobs don't deserve to make a living wage. Thinking it's okay to insist that people in service jobs and other humble professions should work their asses off and come away with nothing. 
Thinking that it's fine to have a servitor class that gets treated like shit is a hallmark of a failed society.
Which gets back to my problem.

I don't really want to go back into caregiving.
I really don't want to go back into caregiving.
Really, I don't want to go back into caregiving.

There may be some benefits from doing so. The question is, do the negative factors outweigh the positive ones?
I kind of think they do.
I like the freedoms that my current job provides.
You know what I would be cool with doing overnight?
House-sitting. Pet sitting. Like, for cats. Or cute little dogs. Or friendly big dogs.

I might be interested in doing pediatric homecare again, but with the black mark on my license following the incident which led to my firing, I don't think I'll ever get another job in that area.
I honestly don't want to do elder care anymore. I did it for more than twenty years. I kind of think that should buy me some kind of reprieve. 

I'm going to go ahead and interview for this job today. It may offer me something that I feel is a worthwhile tradeoff.
I may not get hired at all. 
Part of me would be relieved if that were the case because I think I'm doing this for reasons that aren't exactly pure. 
I'm interested in a steady paycheck.
It isn't that I don't care about the elderly or about helping people. 
It's simply that my own health has deteriorated to the point where I have to look out for Number One, regardless of how ignoble society may perceive doing so to be.
Ain't like I ever got anything but punished for putting everyone else first anyway.

~The Cheese Hath Grated The Living Fuck Out Of It~

Wall Angels - Shoulder and Back strengthening

A stretch for those of us who may have balance issues. Using the wall for support helps prevent loss of balance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: High Anxiety

I always identified way too well with Charlie Brown.
I had a job interview this morning and I flaked out. It's been several months since I worked a job where I have a set schedule. My current job has the advantage of me scheduling myself. However, it doesn't make enough money. The person I was to interview with agreed to allow me to interview on Thursday.
Not that the job I'm interviewing for makes great money.
I don't know if I'll be physically able to handle the job I'm interviewing for. If I can't, (providing that I even get it) I'll turn in my resignation. The job I currently have isn't going anywhere. I don't have to quit.
Other problems which face me should I take the job I'm interviewing for:
I'll lose Medicaid. This is actually a huge problem. Therefore, I don't know if I may be better off sticking with the job I have.
The job I have has no chance for a raise, although on a good night I come out fairly well money-wise. I work for tips and am paid by the delivery.
The job I would be going into is homecare, although I am not responsible for anything medical. It would be working with senior citizens rather than children. I would be acting in the capacity of overnight sitter, although it sounds like some of these folks are bedbound, so I would probably also be having to change their briefs and reposition them. The position requires being able to lift 25 pounds, which I can do. However, I can no longer do heavy lifting and I do have some health problems which are going to need taking care of.
I honestly don't know what the hell to do.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Long-Term Effects of Yo-Yo Dieting and Size Shaming

So, Boys and Girls, you want to know what compounded my resistance to having examinations of my plumbing, besides having PTSD surrounding sexual assault?
That's right, size shaming.
If I hadn't had to worry about size shaming, I might not have waited nearly 30 years between exams.
I might have been less reluctant to talk to my doctor about what was going on with me.
So, you see what size shaming does in a medical context?
That's right. It makes larger people reluctant to see a doctor, or, even if they see one for certain things, they are less likely to be open about things that might involve exposing their fat body, because, oddly enough, people don't enjoy being shamed, ,particularly when they are vulnerable.
Size shaming doesn't work.
A "size normative" approach doesn't work.
Health at every size works.
If doctors are smart enough to get through ten years of rigorous schooling, why are they not smart enough to understand this?
My doctor cited the risks for endometrial cancer (which I may be in the early stages of, it hasn't been confirmed yet) as being a woman (duh), between the ages of 50 and 60, being white, and obesity. I asked her not to use the "o" word, and she has been respectful regarding that request. She made the mistake of thinking it was a "better" way of saying "fat," which I informed her it isn't. I may cuss like the proverbial longshoreman, but I think "obese" is a much nastier word than any f bomb I may drop.
Well, let's look at this. I can't much turn back the clock, so stopping myself from being between 50 and 60 is right out. I suppose I could get a really dark tan, but the likelihood is I'd end up looking burned rather than tan. Oh, and then there's that nasty fat. I could just get rid of that.
Not so much. Been there done that. Many, many, many times.
I developed bulimia when I was 12 years old and also started yo-yo dieting.
Funny enough, when I stopped dieting (at age 45), my weight finally stabilized.
The last time I dieted was when I tried Atkins again after I was diagnosed with diabetes. I did lose weight, but I don't think it had much to do with Atkins, which just ended up making me sick to my stomach from the Erythritol used to sweeten their shakes and bars. I think it had more to do with controlling my blood sugar in other ways. Because, shocker, insulin resistance can cause weight gain and make weight loss difficult.
 I really wasn't looking to lose weight in any case, and I felt a lot better when I stopped doing Atkins.
I'm a living, breathing example of how yo-yo dieting destroys a person's metabolism.
I'm so stressed it isn't even funny. I also have a familial history of cardiovascular problems, which, in my case, is compounded by having diabetes. Yet if I were to drop dead of a heart attack, the stresses from having to work a minimum wage job to never make ends meet and my familial history wouldn't be cited. Nope, it would all be because I'm fatty fat fat.
It makes me so angry that I could spit nails.
Wouldn't it be nice if no-one felt compelled to fall into the yo-yo dieting cycle, which benefits no-one but the multi-billion dollar diet industry, ever again.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

"If you are a fat person facing medical fatphobia and doctors who would rather risk your life to make most of you disappear, than help you live your best life in a fat body, life ISN’T supposed to be like this. It’s NOT supposed to be this hard. Your body is never the problem, fatphobia always is."
-- Ragen Chastain --