Sunday, May 29, 2016

PACE WITH GRACE

"Pace with grace" keeps going through my head on what seems like an infinite loop.  First, how does one pace with grace? Is there some specialized step to make it graceful or is it just a matter of attitude and like a person who struts their stuff, they can pace with grace like a fine sashay. Second, how do I get rid of this continuous loop? I'm afraid I'll replace it with something far worse.  Earlier in the week I couldn't get the song Big Yellow Taxi out of my head and now I'm pacing with grace...

I went to my yo yo inspector today (Wednesday) as a walk-in and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to wait all day to see her, but I can't say I was satisfied with the outcome.  I definitely need to figure out what's triggering all this anxiety and then find some way to make it dissipate without the use of all these pharmaceuticals. 

So far I haven't been able to find some middle ground...either I take no meds and pace with grace or I take the meds I was prescribed to take and feel zonked all the time. My anxiety level drops, but all I want to do is isolate myself and sleep. My only hope is that my body will adjust to the meds after taking them for awhile and I won't be a zombie anymore.  How I want my mojo to come back like a welcomed old, trusted friend and for me not to be caught up on this anxiety merry go round.  

I completed my last painting on 5/25/16 and now, have no interest in painting again because all I want to do is sleep. I'm wondering if I'll go a whole year again without painting, without writing, without doing much of anything. I guess time will tell. It always does!

P.S. The loop is gone and the pacing has subsided, but all is much too quiet on the home front... 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A GENERATION OF GEEKS

I think back to the days of growing up in the "hood" when children interacted with each other.  We spent our youth by playing hide and seek, kickball, dodge ball, tag, hopscotch, jump rope, four square, and many other games like marbles, jacks, Quaker's meeting and when it rained we got on the telephone and organized a place to play board games at someone's house for the afternoon. On days when the girl's did their thing, we played with Barbie dolls while the boys did who knows what! The thought of being cooped up in the house alone only happened when we were sick or on restriction. Regardless of the weather, we wanted to be outside with each other.  When it was cold and snowing, we rode our sleds and ice skated and when it was summer we went to the public pool and found stuff to do outside in the sun. 

I often wonder why and when exactly those days stopped and the isolation began. Was it a gradual change or did it happen overnight? I often wonder how the decline in the sale of board games matches up to the rise in sales of electronic games. Is there a direct correlation between the two? I guess as electronics took root, children's attention and focus turned from each other and towards a world of imaginary creatures where one didn't have to go looking for an adventure because the adventure came to you at the flip of a switch. I often wonder why parents allowed electronic gadgets to become a babysitter, a friend and an entertainer. What we learned as children about teamwork, dispute resolution and organizational skills dwindled away and was replaced by the solitude a child now finds comfort in.  It seems children no longer play outside and I hear adults claim it's because it's so unsafe to be outside.  Has allowing children's lives to change so drastically created a generation of socially awkward human beings who have social anxiety issues? Have we given children an easy excuse to be clumsy, couch potatoes?
 
I won't dispute the safety factor, but I do know there is safety in numbers and being so isolated stunts a child's social development and skills. How can a child learn how to properly interact with others if doing so is never encouraged?  Has it become easier for parents to just buy the newest electronics for their children instead of insisting they spend time outside playing games with their friends or would doing that brand the child as being the neighborhood outcast? Play outside? What's that all about? Who would trust someone who plays outside and has fun doing it?  Have we raised a generation of freaks and geeks who are addicted to electronic crack?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I LOVE MY MIDDLE FINGER

I've recently returned to writing and painting. I think both things are positive outlets for all this pent up anxiety I'm feeling and it sure beats pacing and doing tedious housework all the time.  I can't say I'm a master at either craft, but I guess I do well enough to form a sentence or two in order to construct an idea to elaborate on or as I like to call it, rambling... My skill at painting is acceptable and I have to admit I'm my own worse critic.  The following is the piece I finished today. I never name my pieces because I like for them to be whatever the viewer wants them to be, thus no name, just a number. My signature, Van Goggins was given to me by my closest friend.  She named me after Van Gogh. Van is not my first name, but Goggins is my maiden name I don't know what Van Gogh's diagnosis was, but I rather like the fact that he was "special" and special people need to stick together!

When I started painting this picture I wanted to include the cancer I have on my middle finger, but figured that might be a little over the top.  Besides how does one abstractly depict cancer? Of all places to have cancer, I have to have it on my middle finger.  While they tell me it's not a terminal type of cancer, it's cancer and no cancer is good. And yes, it makes me anxious especially since I have to wait another month to get in to see a specialist to have it removed. 

I keep envisioning my middle finger rotting off and the thought of that doesn't bring me joy.  I'm partial to my middle finger...some of my best angry moments involved using it to signal to someone that they had gotten under my skin. Now, it seems the only thing under my skin is cancer.  I've been fighting the urge to do my own surgery, but I have a feeling that would only make it worse.  When this first appeared on my finger over 12 weeks ago, I assumed it was a possible spider bite. 


I tried on three separate occasions to get my primary care doctor to look at it, but she wouldn't even come near it. WTF? I know it's not pretty, but put some latex gloves on and come over here and look at it. NOPE! She blew my mind by how she acted.  I know we all have bad days, but when a doctor has a bad day that means mistakes are going to be made! What I finally ended up doing was getting a new primary care who solved the problem in a matter of minutes. He nixed the notion that it was a spider/insect bite because there was no drainage or infection associated with it. I know it looks sore and it is sore,when I bump it. The question of the day is how many times do I bump it in a 24 hour period and how many shining expletives do I say per bump? 

P.S. I noticed a few days ago it's starting to grow hair from it.  Great! A hairy cancerous finger! What more can one ask for?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

When I was younger I had no worries.  I did as I pleased when it pleased me.  I always thought I'd be one of those cool old hippies as I aged. It makes me smile thinking about being laid back with a live and let live philosophy.  I guess for the most part I fit that description, but last year something happened to me.  I can't really explain it because I don't understand it.  It's like something short-circuited and made me a little crazy.

I started having panic attacks and they got so frequent and debilitating that I had to be hospitalized.   I do know one thing and that's that I never want to go back there again. It's just not a warm, fuzzy place to hang your hat in a time of emotional need. So regardless, of how bad things may get, I'll find some solution that doesn't include being someplace where I feel like I'm one of the herd. While I was there, I didn't see any people get the help they needed because the atmosphere promoted "let's get the hell out of here as soon as possible" instead of "I need to stay here and fix what needs to be fixed.  And when you get right down to the reality of the situation the doctors and patients have no real say on the length of any given admission thus making it extremely difficult for any doctor to do their job. 

It's the insurance companies that dictate what care you get and how long you get it.  While I was there I talked to several other patients who were visibly upset with their doctor for discharging them when they didn't feel like they were ready to go home. The attitude they had bred distrust and contempt towards anyone who was there to help them. The huddled masses sat bitching about the doctor and what an ogre she was. She didn't listen and didn't care...blah, blah, blah. I could see how detrimental that way of thinking was and like the stand up kind of person I am I started talking to the people who were upset and explained it wasn't their doctor who was making the decisions it was the insurance companies.  Once I explained how insurance works (I was a insurance billing specialist for several years) and that regardless of what you get admitted to the hospital for the insurance companies set how many days you can stay for that thing. Insurance companies don't see you as an individual, but as a bottom line and they want to pay the least amount for your health care they possibly can.

It's the reason so many people turn around and come right back to the hospital. Gall bladder removal? It's an outpatient procedure now...you go home the same day as the surgery regardless of how you feel. Now, you may have to turn around and go to the ER later that day because you have developed a complication.  With mental health issues, it's worse... Try to imagine someone who really isn't ready to go home because they're in the throes of a major depressive episode. They must feel helpless being forced to go back to the same surroundings that many times is unhealthy and lacks a support system for the person. Fragile people don't do well without structure and support.  For them, it's easy to turn their frustration and anger on the doctor...after all, it makes sense. The doctor doesn't care. Right? The doctor and the nurses are easy targets!

So that person with depression is started on an antidepressant and probably an antianxiety med as well just for good measure, but the kicker is that the meds don't start working for 4 to 6 weeks after starting them. What's that person supposed to do in the meantime? Twiddle their thumbs and sing Kumbaya? Nope...go home and tough it out. Just remember not to get too vocal or else you'll land up in a locked room on suicide watch. The key to success is to stay calm and learn the ropes so you don't rock the boat.

After my explanation of what insurance companies can and can't do, it diffused a lot of pent up anger.  I brought the matter up in the next group everyone attended and the response was great.  I could see the frustration start to melt away as people gained a realistic understanding about how the system worked and that they didn't have to be mad at their doctor.  I was as bold to suggest that the social worker incorporate this topic into other groups in the future because many people don't understand how the system works and it stresses them out.  They assume everyone is against them and it's rather difficult trying to reach someone who has built a wall for protection.  I'm sure my suggestion never went any further, but it felt good to help a few people. Hopefully, they'll be in the position someday to pay it forward and help someone else.

P.S. Writing helps even though I tend to ramble at times...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

THE BIG YELLOW TAXI

The lyrics to a Joni Mitchell song has been percolating in my brain for several days now. I'm sure there's some deep hidden meaning as to why I cling to this song and hear Joni's voice clearly in my head, but I've been in an anxiety overload lately so the deepest I can get is to say that change can suck especially if it's an unwelcomed change or an unnecessary change. Perhaps as I slowly meander towards my golden years, the lyrics of this song are quite prophetic...

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


One might think that a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot are good things, but I'll be honest with you...I rather long for those simpler times without the use of gimmicks and come-ons. My simpler times don't include pink hotels. No, my simpler times aren't like the times the crazed Trumpsters long for. My simpler times are when life didn't seem so oppressive or heavy...when dreaming was not only allowed, but highly encouraged. Now, I sit here wondering how many paradises have been paved and made into a parking lots or something as meaningless as a parking lot.  Perhaps the ultimate in meaningless things to build would be a pink parking garage as tall as the eyes can see filled with yellow taxis.

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Imagine a tree museum.  Imagine our earth without trees.  Imagine mother nature being all, but forgotten and our grandchildren and beyond having to look at pictures of trees and flowers because they no longer exist in the concrete jungle we made in its place. It's not an impossibility! Think about all the living things that no longer exist due to man's gluttony and the pollution he creates as he grows and changes and builds his pink hotels and swinging hot spots. My mind flashes back to a commercial they used to run on television years ago. A Native American stands and weeps as he gazes out over the destruction man needlessly glorifies as progress. Whoever created that ad wasn't paid enough...

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


It's incredible when I think about all the poison we've ingested in our lifetimes and here we are still polluting...still damaging the place we call home. We eat food full of GMO's, hormones and other chemicals without thinking about what damage that had done to our brains and our bodies. My mind cries out for places like Flint, Michigan whose water supply has been not only poisoned with lead, but worse, our government, our protectors have allowed and encouraged things like that to happen as our infrastructure decays and crumbles and another pink hotel and swinging hot spot is built. We, the people expect to be protected against ALL enemies foreign and domestic, but that oath that is taken by our leaders seems to be taken too lightly. I consider lead to be as much of an enemy as any terrorist is. I consider leaders who pledge to protect us yet turn their backs on us in our time of need more of an enemy than a leader or a protector.

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Unfortunately, we all have our day in the sun and then we die. The land we had hoped to make a better place, the life we had wanted to give our children and the dreams we all seemed to have dissipate into a paved paradise.  The big yellow taxi takes us all away whether we're ready or not, but in the mean time can't we do more than sing a song of protest? Can't we actually do something? Can't we do anything to make the world a better place or should we start saving our pennies so we can see the trees when they're in a tree museum?

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got

Till it's gone
They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ALL IN THE PACK - STORY 1: THE GIFT

Any pet owner of multiple pets knows that each pet has their own distinctive personality. One of my pets is a doxiepoo (miniature dachshund/toy poodle mix) or "doodle" (what he was sold as).  B.A. (Be Anything) is just too smart for his own good. SERIOUSLY! I'm confident enough with his abilities to have him match wits with many people...especially with the juvenile politicians in the current presidential clown show.  Let’s see, they’ve discussed penis size…B.A. has them beat there.  He’s hung like a horse! In the matter of wives…B.A.’s significant other is a queen and his mistress is a quite lovely German Shepherd named Sasha who lives next door. His sister, Libby is protector of “The Portal” (a reflection on the living room ceiling that she stares at and guards diligently).  As for foreign and domestic relations, we have ambassadors to: China (Shih Tzu), Scotland/UK (Dandie Dinmont Terrier), France/Germany (Doodle) and North America (American Shorthair Feline). For specific policies, please refer to B.A.’s website: Iamthegreastest.org

Each day B.A. amazes me with how he manipulates people. For example, he views ALL visitors as someone new to play with him. After just a minute or two, he deposits one of his favorite toys at the feet of any visitor and starts "using his words" (a command he knows to do in order to let anyone know what he wants.) In this case, it's to let them know it's playtime. He also knows to go to Grandma, if Momma tells him "no". These are just a few of his many characteristics that make him a unique member of the pack in which he's a member.  One of his fellow pack members is a cat who think's she's a dog. We call Tara a "cog" (cat/dog).  Actually, I don't think any of them knows what they are, except Fenway (an extremely spoiled Shih Tzu)! She definitely knows she's the alpha of the pack. I call her "Cujo" when she's in her bossy mode because she acts like a cross between the cartoon character, the Tasmanian Devil or the rabid Saint Bernard Stephen King featured in one of his many novels...except without the foam and biting!

Another thing that distinguishes B.A. from the others is the gifts he deposits occasionally on the floor in the den. This gift is a perfectly formed "shitsicle" (a word I made up because the tird looks like an ice cream cone). This ability is one he formed as a tiny puppy. When he has to go to the bathroom, he sits down completely and as he starts to have a bowel movement, he slowly lifts up his bottom, thus forming a glorious SHITSICLE.