Ginormous Headache

My head hurts like nobody’s business, right at the base of my skull in the back.  I slept wrong.  I wear this eye pillow.  It was cockeyed, plus my regular down pillow had slipped under my shoulders, so I awoke basically balanced on this little lump of eye pillow and my skull screaming in pain.  Every time I turn my head, I see white light and feel like vomiting.  The only thing that alleviates the pain is to stab my thumb or a finger deep into the tight muscle.  Unfortunately because of the angle, my arm cannot twist that direction very well.  I’ve tried stretching my neck to the front and back, left and right, to no avail.  This is so much fun.  I think I’m going to have to try an NSAID, and I generally avoid taking medications for such things.  Only for this, I don’t care.  It hurts that much.

I don’t know why I”m blogging about this.  It’s kind of a ridiculous subject.  But I told myself I would write some blurb every morning and all I can think about right now is this headache and Vantucky.  I know.  It’s silly.  There is a town next to Portland called Vancouver.  Portlanders call it Vantucky.  The reasons for this are self-evident.  Boyfriend is going to Vantucky this morning and he called me on the way. For some reason, the word Vantucky is stuck in my head, along with the headache, and the lyrics to Judy Garland singing I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.  It’s quite a combination, I can assure you.  The song is getting annoying.  It’s been crawling around in my head, worming its way through the neurons for days now.  I’m ready to be rid of it.  I will have to listen to something else over and over and over in an effort to make it go away.  Then that song might get stuck, but at least it will be a different song.  Last week it was Cape Verdean Blues.  I did not mind that song being in my head.  It flittered around, showing up periodically.  I would hum bars of it here and there.  It did not sit insiduously on one line for hours like the chasing rainbows number.  No.  It was a pleasant visitor.  Chasing rainbows is like a houseguest who has overstayed her welcome, leaving empty dishes around the house with food stuck in them and her underwear in the bathroom with the crotch up.  I want her to leave me.

I’m off to take drugs to try to obliterate this headache, then I need to take my baby to school.  Hopefully by the time I return home the drugs will have kicked in and this pain will have been alleviated.  If not, I’ll poke a nail in my hand.  It would probably feel better than this wretched headache.

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Molly

Woke up this morning to my dog Molly having a major seizure.  Her head was all twisted to the left her spine all to the right she could not stand she was shitting and pissing herself and her eyes were pointing in opposite directions.  It was horrible.  I’m kind of weirded out by the fact that last night I was writing about my other dog’s death, something I haven’t written about in months and I woke up to this happening.

I took her to the vet and she was not optimistic.  However since Molly seemed to improve over the course of the visit, we decided to allow her to come home and say bye to everyone.  Through the day, she improved to about 95% normal.  If you didn’t know her, you wouldn’t know she is still off.  She’s got this Picasso look to her eyes.  They’re kind of cattywompus.  I took her back to the vet this afternoon and we have adopted a wait and see attitude.  As long as she seems to be comfortable and her quality of life is decent, she gets to stay with us, but we’re clearly on a track out.  It is most likely Molly has a brain tumor.  I could spend a thousand bucks to try and find out what is wrong, but there is obviously neurologic damage and even knowing wouldn’t improve her long-term prognosis, so I’m just going to let what it is run its course.

I’m too tired to say any more than this.  I sobbed all morning long.  I’m spent.  Grief takes energy and now mine is gone.

The Opossum Approach

Weird.  Apparently shitty workplaces are a popular topic.  The story has been hit over and over and over.  My readership stats have tripled, and most of them are to that post.  I have this book called the No Asshole Rule.  The guy who wrote it said it started as an article in Harvard Business Review or something, but he got so much feedback that he ended up writing a book.  Apparently, dreadful workplaces and mean people are pretty prevalent in good old America.  In fact a woman added a link to my post from her blog called www.DecontaminateToxicPeople.com.

Anyway, I think it’s sad we are all laboring, literally, in places that are horrible to work with people who treat us badly.  The thing I find amazing is that in most cases, other than the fact that we are forced to spend some amount of hours with them a week, our coworkers are generally not our friends, at least they weren’t before we went to work with them.  They are not the people we choose to hang out with because we met them and have a lot in common or whatever.  Some may become friends or lovers based on forced proximity, but for the most part, people who work together are all essentially strangers who give their time to a place to pay for their time outside a place.  Yet a large number of these people think it is okay to behave horribly to people they really don’t know.  How pathetic this is.  I guess it would be worse to treat someone you know badly, but there is a different kind of moral reprehensibility in treating a stranger in a wretched manner.

No, actually.  It’s all bad.  I sat here and attempted to separate out whether it is worse to be cruel to people you know versus people you don’t know.  Either one leaves me at the same conclusion:  it’s all bad.  I’m not much of a black and white person.  I can see the grey in many things, even in situations where many others can’t see anything but solid black or stark white.  But in this, in humans treating each other like crap, it all seems morally reprehensible.  I just can’t see where it’s justified.  Over and over I come up with situations in my mind where it might be okay, and I can’t justify any of them.  Well, I suppose it is alright to run over a little old lady who crosses the street against the light, but that’s it.  That’s the only time it is okay to be mean.

All kidding aside, this is my question…under what circumstances is it okay to treat another human being badly?  Because they treated you badly?  For revenge?  Revenge meanness is probably one of the most often employed reasons for hurting someone else.  I would argue against it because in treating someone poorly because they treated you poorly you become as they are in responding in kind.  And I just can’t think of any other reasons that aren’t patently objectionable on the surface, such as being mean because someone is black and you’re white, or not liking the look on someone’s face.  There are just no good reasons to be mean to each other.

Yet it happens. Over and over.  Apparently people don’t care if there is a good reason or not.  I suppose in most cases it has more to do with the person being a jerk than the victim.  Actually that’s probably it most of the time.  Inside the person feels worthless so they get some pitiful power out of being mean.  Or the person assumes no one likes them so they act like an ass to prove themselves right.  Or for some other psycho babble blah blah blah reason.  But these are still lousy reasons.  It says a lot about the state of mental health in most workplaces if this type of behavior is so prevalent, that there are a hell of a lot of people who feel bad about themselves and act this way to compensate.

Based on my own experience I wish I could say that the best response is to be kind and compassionate, and on some level I think that is necessary.  But from a practical standpoint, my experience was to stay the hell away from the toxic people and to avoid them at all costs.  I tried the being direct and professional approach.  They would use it to find a way to hurt me.  I tried smiling.  That seemed to make them mad and would result in some form of retaliation.  I tried being friendly and acting like there nothing was wrong, while simultaneously making damn sure my work was covered so they couldn’t sabbotage it.  That made them sneer and laugh behind my back about whatever friendly comments I had made (I caught them at this several times) .  Frankly, there was no way that I saw to behave except to stay as far away from them as possible.  Play dead.  The opossom approach.  That is the only viable method I advocate.  It might seem pathetic, but it worked.

Derek

So today handed me my first how well can you deal with this new mentality of living in the moment when the moment is shit event.  I knew all along that the real test whether I got it with the living here and now and watching the thoughts but not acting on them would be when something really shitty happened.  So now something shitty has happened and my brain would really like to revert back to its old tricks of getting depressed and worried that life will be fucked up forever.  So I pick up my dog and nuzzle the fur in the back of his neck with my lips and feel its warmth and realize I’m here and right now, this moment I’m okay.  So maybe it will work if I don’t worry how long I have to keep doing it, knowing I’m just staving off the thoughts for now.  I don’t know, it isn’t tested.  But I don’t know what is going to happen the other way either, it just feels worse.

My brother, my baby brother who isn’t a baby anymore, but young enough I remember holding him and carrying him as an infant, I remember my mom’s entire pregnancy, started getting in trouble with drugs when he was a teenager.  He would get in trouble then my dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then go back to my parent’s house then get in trouble again then dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then he’d get in trouble again and on and on and on ad nauseum.  He’s been to treatment about five times.  He never really gets into it.  It started to be obvious that the key to Derek getting into trouble was going back to my parent’s house.  He’d get in a fight with my dad who likes keeping Derek the bad guy because that’s the only role he’s comfortable with.  Then Derek would use that as an excuse to go find his local idiot druggie friends and go do something stupid and he would get in trouble.

He was so smart as a little boy.  He built a robot from scratch when he was like four years old.  It walked and had blinking eyes.  He made a little motor and hooked it up to the legos and made it move.  But he had Tourette’s and the teachers were annoyed by him and he hated school.  I think he was genuinely ADHD too, but this was before that was the popular label for any kid who didn’t fit.  Luckily the Tourette’s faded by high school.

Anyway, Derek was the kid all the other kids worshiped.  They followed him around like he was the Pied Piper or something.  He is the sensitive sort, but he doesn’t want anyone to know it.  He loves animals like they are babies.  And loves babies.  But he acted tough around all his friends.  They thought he was God.  And he had one special friend, one who looked up to him, a friend he adored.  They were best buddies.  They worked on the farm of this man who was a teacher in Derek’s school, Mr. K.  Mr. K was a kind man and good for Derek because he made him act responsibly.  By the time Derek was 17, he was a foreman in the summer working on Mr. K’s farm.  But Derek had started smoking pot and would get into trouble.  Mr. K would try to guide Derek and get him to make better decisions, but Mr. K was too late on the scene.  Since Derek came along ten years after the rest of us he was handed anything and everything he ever wanted. This meant that when Derek wrecked a car, he got another one.  When he wrecked that one, he got yet another one (I wasn’t even allowed to use my parent’s cars, let alone get my own).  Anyway, so this is how it was.  Derek dropped out of school and passed the GED.  He worked on Mr. K’s farm.  And him and his best buddy Brad were the kings of the dipshits who followed them around like they were gods.

Then one morning Derek spent the night at his girlfriend’s house.  The clock radio woke him up and he was lying there listening.  The DJ told the story of a boy who had been four-wheeling outside town on one of the logging roads.  The logging company had put up a cable across the road up the hill to keep four-wheelers out of there, but neglected to put ribbons on the cables.  A local boy had been riding up the hill and was killed the day before by one of these cables.  Then they said his name and it was Brad, Derek’s best friend in the world.  This news destroyed Derek.  He was never the same after that.  It was like a sadness settled in and became a part of who he was.

Derek told me a story.  He went to the funeral home.  They were not having an open casket.  Brad’s head had been nearly removed by the cable.  The funeral director let Derek go in to be with his body after the funeral.  He told Derek he could open the end with Brad’s feet if he wanted to.  Derek did, but he opened the wrong end of the casket.  He said Brad’s eyes were open and he was crudely stitched together.  He said the image is a part of his brain.  I can’t even imagine.

So after this, Derek kept going to work, but he was darker.  He wasn’t the happy kid anymore.  He got arrested for a DUI and had meth in his truck.  Plead guilty, got his probabtion.  Then about 10 months later, Mr. K was going through the drive thru at McDonald’s and had a heart attack, his car hit a tree, and he died.  They didn’t know if the heart attack or tree killed him.  Derek seemed to quit caring after that.  He quit going to work and started always using drugs.  Of course, my parents would not admit he was using.  He would sleep for days then turn mean then leave.  On and on and on and on.  Then he’d get caught.  Then he’d get ordered treatment.  Then he’d be fine.  Then back on.  In between he married a woman he met online and had a couple of kids.  This came with its usual drama.  Somewhere in there Derek went to jail for the first time.  Then again.

The last couple of years Derek has really seemed to want to stay off drugs.  He took himself to Central City Concern, a treatment program here in Portland, and was doing well, got a job, then went back to my parent’s (there is a whole dynamic there too where my dad asks Derek to “come work for him” that helps keep this going on), then he used drugs again.

Finally, after the last episode, his PO told him he couldn’t go to Marion County.  That was the only place Derek had ever gotten into trouble, and that’s where my parent’s house is.  I allowed Derek to move into my basement until he found his own place, something he planned to do this weekend.  He got a job.  He did not go anywhere near my parent’s house.  The DA wanted to throw him in prison for six months.  The judge gave him probation with a zero tolerance order.  This meant he could not touch any intoxicant.  He could not go where intoxicants were served.  He had to stay in treatment.  He had to keep a job.  Derek was doing all of these things.  He was doing remarkably well.  He would help me with my house and play Clue with my daughter.  His girlfriend annoyed me, but not in any major dysfunctional way, she just isn’t very bright and gets on my nerves sometimes.  He worked graveyard and would come home in the middle of the night and sleep until he had to go to work again.

Then this morning, I woke up and was in the kitchen making tea and noticed the light blinking on my house phone indicating a message.  I did not have my glasses on or contacts in so I could not see the caller id to find out who had left the message, so I just dialed in.  It was a recorded message trying to get me to choose whether or not to accept a collect call.  I felt the flutter in my stomach.  I got my glasses and looked at my phone.  It said Inmate Phone.  I went to the front window and looked out.  Both Derek’s cars were parked there.  I walked down to the basement.  Derek was not in bed.  I called my Dad.  What is going on?  Oh, I just got up.  Not much.  No. What is going on with Derek?  Nothing I know of.  Well there is a call on my phone that says Inmate Phone.  Shit.  No.  My dad told me to call Sarah, so I did.

Man, she’s dumb.  That is the thing about her that annoys me more than anything is how damn dumb she is.  I’m trying to practice compassion, to accept each person as they are.  To love everyone, even if I don’t want to.  She is my biggest practice case.  I just can’t stand it because I don’t think she’s really that stupid, I think she is just used to people doing everything for her when she acts like she can’t do anything, and I don’t think she’s as dumb as she pretends to be.  So when she acts like she’s stupid, it drives me crazy.  And it’s not fair to her.  She can’t help it if she’s been treated like a baby her whole life so she doesn’t do much herself.  And I wouldn’t dislike a dog because it was dumb.  Hell, my dog Edna is dumber than a fence post, but I love her to death.  So anyway, this morning Sarah was as blase’ as ever, Oh Derek got arrested.  Why?  Drinking.  Why was he drinking?  Well we went to Gabe’s after he got off work and he had a beer.  Well the police wouldn’t just come up and arrest Derek for drinking a beer.  They would need some reason to know he had drank a beer.  It wouldn’t just come out of nowhere.  Oh well I was driving us home and I got a ticket and they smelled the beer and arrested him.  Fuck.

So I called my parents back and told them and the rest I guess will be whatever it is.  I don’t even know.  I’m trying not to be angry with Sarah for driving like she’s blind because she does and it’s annoying.  Hell, she totaled her car the day before while driving alone in the middle of the night.  More than likely she was sending Derek a text message.  I’ve seen her text while driving on too many occasions.  I won’t let her hold her phone when she’s driving with me in the car.  But the truth is it doesn’t damn matter how Sarah was driving because if Derek hadn’t been drinking, he wouldn’t have gotten arrested.  I told my dad this.  He wanted to be irritated at Sarah for how she drives and irritated at Gabe for drinking.  I told him none of their actions would have mattered if Derek hadn’t been drinking.  My parents would love for all this to be someone else’s fault, like laying blame will alleviate any of the pain.  It won’t.

I’m trying not to wonder how Derek could be so hopeless to get himself in this mess.  I keep reminding myself that he knew his limits, but he really has this “It won’t happen to me” mentality.  I know that in the journey that is Derek’s life there are many, many choices he could have made differently that would likely have resulted in something else.  I have known for a very long time that I cannot control this and that he is ultimately responsible for what happens to him.  And at the same time it breaks my heart.  I’m so sad that this is his path.  I wish he would choose something different.  It hurts to watch someone you love make choices that hurt them.

Two days ago Derek was sleeping.  I went down and gave him a big hug.  He asked me if everything was okay.  I said everything was fine, I just love him.  I’m so glad I did that.

Evil Guerrilla Virus

These can be addicting.  I sit here and have these random thoughts and want to write them here instead of my journal.  I carry around this notebook to write my strange random thoughts and to draw pictures.  Sometimes I’ll have a dream and write it in there thinking it’s profound and I should make a movie out of it.  Then I’ll go back and read the dream later and realize it WAS profound…profoundly dumb. Now I’m experimenting with background color.  Yes.  My time is well spent.  Well spent indeed.  (:I had a cold in early November.  A nasty wicked cold that kicked my ass and left me in bed for days.  It lasted about 3 1/2 weeks.  It started with a wretched, mind-blowing headache that just hurt no matter how much caffeine or ibuprofen I poured on it.  Then there were two days of sore throat that hurt so badly I could not speak and swallowing was pure hell and torture.  After that cleared, I suddenly had snot gushing from every available orifice in my head.  That started to clear and I began to feel the rumblings low in my lungs of a cough that rattled every joint in my body.  I attempted to stave off the cough, but to no avail.  I would lie there, feeling it humming in my chest.  I would breathe slowly. In. Out. In. Out.  Please god, don’t make me cough.  Then it would happen and it would hurt and it would not stop.  This went on for days.  I had to pile pillows high on my bed to prop myself up so I could sleep because anytime I was horizontal the cough would creep up and kick my ass.  I would be in that lovely place right before sleep, drowsily imagining flying or that I had three arms, when that cough would smash me right back into reality.  I remember lying there with my eyes dry feeling like I would never sleep again.  I finally succumbed and took four of Milla’s triaminic cough strips.  I don’t like taking those kinds of drugs because they drug me so completely I have a hangover for days, but even a hangover was preferable to that shit.  Only it was like the cough sat and waited for the exact SECOND the dextromethorphan wore off.  I love saying that word, dextromethorphan.  I would lie there and say it over and over to take myself into that sleepy place knowing the cough couldn’t get me.  ANYWAY.  The SECOND it wore off, the cough would return with a vengeance worse than anything prior to the attempted cough murder.  I finally started popping the dextromethorphan like some kind of an addict just to sleep.  After about a week of this, my head hurt constantly and I was a walking zombie from lack of non-drug-induced sleep.  That’s about when the tickle began.  I didn’t have any mucous left.  There was just that fucking tickle in the back of my throat.  I’d be sitting there on the computer or reading a book or trying to work and feel that wretched ass tickle.  Tickle.  Tickle.  And have to cough.  And then I could not stop coughing.  I even stuck my finger in the back of my throat in an attempt to stop the tickle.  It didn’t work.  I looked up the tickle on the internet and found many a distressed sufferer lamenting on various medical websites about the wretched ass tickle.  Some had suffered for years.  These were people with chronic conditions, asthma and the like.  Thank GOD I did not have that. I had the tickle for about four days.  I probably would have found a huge bridge from which to fling myself had the tickle continued much longer.  I pity those people who live their lives with the tickle.

ANYWAY.  What was my point? I had one.  The POINT is that I had this bitch of a cold that lasted nearly four weeks, then I began gradually to heal.  There was a period of about five days where I sneezed, but had no other symptoms, but that faded as well.  Even Milla’s aftercare teacher would say, You are doing better. Then the next day he would say, You seem 10 percent better today.  Finally one day he said, I think you are 98 percent better.  Does that mean the cold is all gone and you are well?  I would say, Yes!  I am so much better.  Thank you so much for thinking of me.

Well.  We were both wrong.  I woke up yesterday and the damn headache, lung ache, face snot, sneezing, sore throat, and cough are all back and all at once.  No more of that systematic one at a time shit for this cold.  No.  It’s all back and it’s all back at once.  And you know what is really strange?  My friend Britta had this same crap about the same time I did and in the same order.  And yesterday her shit came back exactly like mine!!  It’s like some miracle virus that tricks you into thinking you are well when you’re not!  It’s so cruel.

So this is what I’m contemplating as I sit here not doing much work because my head hurts and I’m tired and my lungs hurt and I’m WHINING.  Wah wah wah!  I guess I will see now if the pretty orange color stays when I actually post this thing.

DAMN!!  I just typed in Evil Guerrilla Virus and in the process sneezed the biggest grossest sneeze of ick I’ve sneezed in years!  Thank god for tissue and thank god more for soft tissue with lotion in it!  Yikes!