Not So Sweet Dreams

September 30, 2007

The other night, I dreamt that I was standing outside at dawn, watching thousands of bats fly into my house.  My hands were on my face, and the words “Oh my God” came out of my mouth over and over.

This is what the bats looked like.

*Photo courtesy of Allposters.com.

This is what I looked like.

*Photo courtesy of homepage.newschool.edu.

Song of the Day:  Welcome To My Nightmare  by Alice Cooper

Reading:  Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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I Want a New Drug

September 29, 2007

My City is participating in The Big Read, a nationwide initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Big Read was created to bring reading back to American culture by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.

The first book in the series is To Kill A Mockingbird. On Wednesday, the school I work in sent 400 students to a local, historic theater to see the movie. I was asked to be a chaperone, and leaped at the chance to watch this film on the big screen. Students from three other school districts were in the audience, as well.

Unfortunately, it took a long time to get all of the students seated, and the movie started later than anticipated. I had requested half a personal day for the comp hearing. Because of the late start, I had to leave after Atticus delivered his closing arguments.

I met with my attorney before the hearing, and I informed him about the discrepancies in the Independent Medical Exam report. He told me there was nothing that could be done, but I shouldn’t be concerned because there wasn’t anything damaging in the report.

The comp hearing itself was not at all what I expected. I just sat there, and didn’t have to say a thing. I’m not even sure what was going on… I think they were figuring out how much the comp carrier owes my employer for the sick time benefits I was paid… It’s all very complicated and confusing. I’m just glad it’s over.

In other news, I’m on new medication for Fibromyalgia. It makes me dizzy, which is one of the noted side effects. I’m hoping the dizziness will go away as my body adjusts to the meds. However, this drug also makes me feel stoned. Going to work in such a loopy state has been an interesting experience… So far, it’s been a good trip.

The down side is increased fatigue. On the other hand, there has been a decrease in the god-awful pain in my shoulder blade. I’m not sure whether or not that can be attributed to the medication… It could just be that the Fibro flare-up has run its course… We shall see.

Another possible side effect of this medication is constipation. That had me worried because the last time I suffered from that condition I ended up in the hospital.

So far, that hasn’t happened, thank goodness. Instead, I am experiencing the opposite. I was running to the bathroom all night, and this morning brought more of the same. Again, I’m not sure if the medication is responsible. It could just be a gastrointestinal upset. Whatever it is, it’s wreaking havoc on my back. I can’t win for losing.

Song of the Day: I Want a New Drug  by Huey Lewis and the News

The Doctor is Out

September 25, 2007

Thanks for all the messages of support and encouragement. Many of you suggested that I call the physician who performed the Independent Medical Exam. However, I am not supposed to have any contact with this doctor unless it is under the direction of Worker’s Comp.

Furthermore, he was not supposed to tell me as much as he did. In fact, this statement is included in his report: “No treatment was given or suggested to the claimant.”

All I can do is discuss the situation with my attorney. I don’t expect to get anywhere with that, though. The law firm I’m dealing with has been nothing more than another source of disappointment and disillusionment to me.

I really do give up and admit defeat. I just don’t have it in me to put any more effort into doing battle with The Powers That Be.

Song of the Day: Powerless by Nelly Furtado

The Agony of Defeat

September 24, 2007

A copy of the report from my Independent Medical Exam arrived in today’s mail. I opened it with a great deal of excitement. With this document in my hands, I felt empowered and well able to face the judge at my upcoming Worker’s Comp hearing (on Wednesday).

By the time I reached the end of the report, however, I was overcome with stunned disbelief. Dr. IME did make reference to “segmental instability,” but no mention was made of the fracture. And, get this – he did not recommend a bone scan, despite his assurances to me that he would do so.

Any hope I had that I might finally be on the road to relief has been shattered.

I give up.

Song of the Day: I Give Up by Heart

Cheap Date

September 23, 2007

Periodontal problems dictate that I go to the dentist for root planing and scaling four times a year. Because of the discomfort related to this procedure, I always ask for gas. I’m in enough pain as it is, and prefer to avoid adding any more to the mix whenever possible.

Usually, I don’t have any problem tolerating the gas, with the exception of two occasions, one of which was yesterday. I couldn’t come down. The hygienist had me on pure oxygen for thirty minutes, but I was still high as a kite. She asked if alcohol affects me quickly, and I had to admit that it does.  Two glasses of wine are enough to get me drunk. I’m a cheap date.

Anyway, I didn’t want to hold the hygienist up any longer, so I assured her that I was feeling well enough to leave. After making sure I wasn’t going to be driving myself home, she let me go.

I called Daniel, but he was stuck at the mechanic’s waiting for delivery and installation of a new alternator. Not feeling clear-headed enough to call for a taxi, I made the stupid decision to walk home. It’s only a little over a mile from the dentist’s office to my house, and I’ve walked to and fro many times. Never under the influence of nitrous oxide, though.

After only a couple of blocks, I knew I had made a mistake. My vision and hearing were off, for one thing. For another, my back and legs were killing me. To add insult to injury, it started to rain, and I didn’t have an umbrella. I can’t remember ever being so happy to get home.

It took a couple of hours for the gas to wear off completely. I did some housework, and then went to visit My Friend in the hospital. It made my heart hurt to see this vital woman looking so fragile. She has a tube down her nose, and drains coming out of her in three places. Still, she was talkative, and even cracked a few jokes…

…My mother just called and asked me to go to a thrift store with her, so I have to go get showered and dressed. Ta ta!

Song of the Day: Laughing Gas by Quiet Riot

My Mind is on the Blink

September 22, 2007

Whew, what a week. The worst of it was having to go back Wednesday evening for Open House. I hate these parent nights because I have absolutely nothing to do. I sat in the library from 6:30 to 9:00. During that time, ONE parent dropped by, and that visit only lasted for a few minutes.

It was a brutal evening, and I’ve been paying for it ever since. The pain has been so bad I can barely speak because it takes too much energy – energy I have to conserve in order to try to cope with the pain.

Oh well, at least Open House is over with for this year. (If only I could say the same for the pain…) However, I get to repeat the experience twice in November. And then another two evenings in February. Oh joy.

I can’t believe the last doctor I saw (not the Worker’s Comp doc – I’m referring to one of my treating physicians) suggested that going back to work would be good for me. It has proved to be the opposite. Not only do I have to deal with a substantial increase in pain and fatigue, but the stress factor has to be taken into consideration, as well. That school is a madhouse.

I returned to find that the computer lab had been moved to another room. It is not yet ready for students (and the two air conditioners that were purchased for the lab are still in boxes on the floor, the same place they’ve been since June, according to my co-workers), so I’ve been assigned to the library. Yesterday afternoon, the librarian had a meeting with the new principal, and it appears that the library and computer lab are in for some major policy changes, none of which will have a positive effect on our morale, not to mention my physical and emotional health.

Another thing that is weighing heavily on my mind is the health of My Friend. She was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday because a gallstone was blocking her bile duct. An unsuccessful attempt was made Thursday to dislodge the stone. When I spoke to her yesterday morning, she said the surgeon was going to try again laparoscopically, but if that didn’t work, they would have to cut her open, which would mean that the recovery period would be a lot longer, and quite a bit more painful. As it turns out, the latter procedure did have to be performed.

My Friend is so depressed, she told me she now understands why people commit suicide. She said, “If I had a gun, I would shoot myself.” Hearing that broke my heart. My Friend is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever known, and it is very unlike her to talk like that.

The main reason she is so down is because she lives alone, and because she had major abdominal surgery, she will need help at home. She does have a son, but he lives in Virginia (and flies a Sea Dragon helicopter for the US Navy). Most of the time, My Friend doesn’t give much thought to her living arrangements, but yesterday morning she said that her current situation has made her realize just how alone she is.

After I got off the phone with My Friend, I called a florist and ordered a floral arrangement. I could not believe my eyes when I got home from work and found the flowers on my back porch, with MY name and address on the envelope. I called the florist, and, after apologizing profusely for the error, she sent someone over to pick up the arrangement and deliver it to My Friend in the hospital. I do have to say that it is a gorgeous arrangement, in My Friend’s favorite colors. I hope the flowers cheer her up a bit.

I wish today could be a day of recovery and relaxation, but I have a dental appointment for root planing and scaling this morning. After that, I want to visit My Friend in the hospital. If hospitals were more restful places, I’d almost wish I could join her there, but, after my last experience, I know better.

Boy, this sure has been a hodgepodge entry. The disjointedness pretty much reflects the state of my mind.

Song of the Day: I’m So Tired by The Beatles

Dazed and Confused

September 13, 2007

Being back at work is very difficult. By the time I get home, I am totally drained, and in quite a bit of pain – a lot more pain than I’ve had to endure in a long time. It’s all I can do to get dinner on the table. Most of my energy is now devoted to my job, and there is very little left for my family and friends, or for myself. This is a terrible way to live.

Yesterday, I had an appointment for an Independent Medical Exam, set up by the Worker’s Comp insurance company. This doctor is a neurosurgeon, by the way. He reviewed all the films I brought, and was particularly interested in the flexion/extension x-rays. He remarked that there is increased movement in my spine, which can indicate instability. He also saw something that could be a small fracture. This independent medical examiner expressed surprise that surgery has not been recommended.

I was stunned and overwhelmed to hear this doctor’s take on things, especially since I had never heard about the increased movement and possible fracture before. I find it incredible that I had to learn about these things from a doctor who is supposed to be working against me, rather than for me.

Dr. IME strongly feels that I should have a bone scan, and is going to recommend that in his report. I don’t know who is going to write the actual orders for the bone scan, though. The three doctors I’ve been seeing have been pretty dismissive…

There is a Physician’s Assistant that has been very good to me, so maybe I’ll make an appointment to discuss this with her. However, I don’t know how much good that will do. She’s not a surgeon, unfortunately. Still, she might have the authority to send me for the bone scan…

I just don’t know what to think or do anymore.

Song of the Day: Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin

See You in September

September 10, 2007

This past weekend has been a busy one. I wanted to engage in as many fun activities as possible before heading back to work.

On Friday, I lounged on a float in my sister’s pool.

Every September, I try to get to Locust Grove (The Samuel Morse Estate) to see the dahlias. They’re pretty spectacular. This is some of what I saw on Saturday (including Tree Hydrangea, and an arbor, which is one of my favorite places on the grounds).

Yesterday, I visited my grandmother. After that, it was time to get serious. So I dragged out the iron and ironing board. Setting the alarm clock for an ungodly hour was the hardest thing I had to do.

No. Scratch that. Getting up at an ungodly hour this morning was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Now it’s time to face the music.

Song of the Day: See You in September by The Happenings

To Be Or Not To Be…

September 6, 2007

That is the question that was answered at yesterday’s appointment with the neurosurgeon, in reference to whether or not I would be going back to work. Before I get into the details of the appointment, I’d like to mention something that happened when I first arrived at the office.

I checked in at the reception desk, and couldn’t believe my ears when I was told that their records showed that I canceled my appointment and did not reschedule. The two women behind the desk had to avert their eyes against the blazing look of incredulity and anger that flashed across my face as I informed them that my records showed that they canceled my appointment twice. I most certainly did not cancel any appointments. Unbelievable!

They took my word for it, and added my name to the top of the list. If they hadn’t, it would have taken a cop or two to drag me out of there.

Anyway, Dr. C was pretty straight with me. He said there’s really nothing more that can be done for my back. Like his partner, he feels that pain management is not advisable. And he feels that surgery would do more harm than good. He did say I could give a chiropractor a try, so I might look into that. I know people who have had amazing results.

Since there is nothing further that can be done for me, I asked the doctor to write a note giving me permission to return to work. I go back on Monday. It’s either that, or try to go out on disability, which is not something I want to pursue at this time.

One reason for that has to do with health insurance. Daniel and the girls are covered under my policy (which is paid for by the District), and that’s worth an awful lot of money… I just can’t afford to stop working right now.

Song of the Day: Workin’ For a Livin’ by Huey Lewis & The News

Merrily We Roll Along

September 4, 2007

LA recently remarked (on my answering machine) that I sure do get out a lot for a shut-in. I had a good chuckle over that, but she’s right. Over the summer, I have felt the need to be out and about as much as possible. Maybe it’s a way of thumbing my nose at all the pain I have to live with. Or perhaps I’m making an attempt to balance all the time I’ve invested in medical pursuits by frequently engaging in more pleasurable excursions. Most likely, it’s a combination of both things.

When I stay home (like I did yesterday, for example), I sometimes experience a strong tugging towards depression. I’d rather not wallow in that mire, so I try to take advantage of any potentially fun (or, at the very least, distracting) opportunity that comes my way. This past weekend was blissfully full of such opportunities.

For my birthday last year, Daniel and the girls gave me a gift certificate to a local spa. For one reason or another (my brother’s death, in particular), I didn’t get around to using it until Friday. Upon my arrival at the spa, I was ushered into a changing room where I removed my clothes and slipped into a luxuriously soft robe. After a short wait, I was called in for my one-hour massage. God, I needed that.

Then I was led to another room for a one-hour Tourmaline facial (a natural alternative to microdermabrasion). First, my hands were slathered with lotion, and placed in warm mitts. The steam machine was turned on, and the facialist went to work.  Ohhhh yeah, baby.  Everything felt so good.

Along with the facial, my package included eye zone and stress-relieving hair treatments, which added another half-hour to my total spa experience. It was wonderful to be pampered for two and one half hours. I could very easily get used to that sort of thing.

On Saturday, my mother and I set out on a peach-picking expedition. However, when we got to the orchard, we found that they had switched from peaches to apples, plums and strawberries. They had some of their peaches for sale in the market stand, and, boy, were they delicious. I also savored the honey crisp apple they let me sample, but, unfortunately, that variety was not available for picking. We hiked up to the strawberry patch, where my mother did most of the picking because my back wouldn’t tolerate being in that bent over position for long.

After that, we headed for my niece’s house, so I could meet her new son. What an adorable baby. And big! He weighed in at a little over 8 lbs at birth, and measured 22 inches in length. He has the long arms that run in our family (passed on from his grandfather, my brother, Mark), and has large hands and feet. His hair is gorgeous – thick and plentiful, and shimmering with highlights. He has an enviable complexion, and I delighted in bestowing kisses all over his beautifully smooth and clear skin.

I also had fun playing with his big sister (she’ll be three years old next month). She kept dragging me away from her baby brother, and into her room. There, she would press a button on her animated, musical Tinkerbell lamp. That was my cue to dance and prance about the room. Little Miss L made me do this repeatedly. She laughed her head off every time. You would have laughed, too.

On the way home, we stopped at a diner, where my mother treated me to lunch. I ate the best Reuben sandwich I’ve had in a very long time. Too many experiences with stringy, uvula-strangling pastrami have prevented me from ordering Reubens as often as I would otherwise be inclined, but I’m glad I decided to throw caution to the wind and take the risk this time. That sandwich was banging.

Moving right along to Sunday… First you should know that Daniel had never seen the ocean. (Gasp.) My ex (with whom we are quite friendly) made it his mission to rectify that situation, and Sunday was the big day. We left at 7:30 a.m., and drove to Bridgeport, CT, where we took the ferry over to Port Jefferson (Long Island).

A stop at the Wunderbar Deli provided me with a good laugh. The ex and I were standing together at the bakery counter, while Daniel was off ordering something from the deli. The ex paid for his purchases, and then I paid for mine. The guy behind the counter expressed surprise over our purchases being rung up separately. I explained, “Oh, that’s my ex.” The deli guy responded, “No WONDER he’s your ex!” That really cracked me up.

The drive to Hither Hills State Park (near Montauk) should only have taken about an hour and half, but heavy road congestion added at least an hour to the trip each way. Still, if you’re going to be stuck in traffic, the Hamptons are vastly preferable to the LIE.

It was a picture perfect day, and our section of the beach was sparsely populated, which made for a very peaceful experience. The occasion was truly momentous, and Daniel said that he was “awed” by the ocean. I feel the same way every time I visit the seashore. Oh, how I wish I could live there.

I hope you all had as nice a Labor Day weekend as I did.

Song of the Day: Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim