Saturday, June 30, 2007

I should be in bed. I am tired enough to sleep all the way through tomorrow and on unto Monday morning. I should be in bed, but I am not.

I awoke quite shaky and wished that I could ignore the expired, failed inspection sticker posted conspicuously on the center of my windshield. However, I could not afford a ticket just now, so I got ready to take care of the matter. My limbs were trembling so much while I was doing so that I had to sit down several times. The bed was calling my name ever so loudly...

I had planned to just go ahead and charge the $16 I would have to pay to have the car re-inspected today instead of driving down to Woodbridge, but that plan changed when I opened the mail. In it, I found a forth notice from Toyota regarding a recall repair. Now, when I had driven to Woodbridge two and a half weeks ago, that service was supposed to be preformed. However, when I checked the paperwork, I discovered they had not done so. A bit perturbed, I called Toyota and asked if there was a time slot open for the re-inspection and the repair.

When I arrived, quite bothered because the trip took twice as long due to holiday traffic, I learned that the inspector had never even arrived this morning. I was so frustrated and so very angry and so very overwhelmed at the thought of driving all the way home, only to have to search for an inspection place and hunker down for the usually long wait that exist on Saturdays.

I finally arrived home several hours later. Exhausted.

My dearest friend B played a game of Scrabble with me, beating me mercilessly as she has lately and chatted on the phone while doing so. Still, her "virtual" visit was not enough to assuage my consternation and frustration over my day. I decided to turn to my most effective cure: organization.

One closet, the living area bookshelves, and the refrigerator later, I was beginning to feel better. I cleaned, cleared out, threw out, and organized my way to a more peaceful mindset, all the while laying down my frustration over and over again.

Sometimes, I despair at how difficult it is to lay down my burdens at the cross. I find myself clinging to them when all I want to do is be free. I couldn't be thankful that I actually accomplished my goal of returning my vehicle to a legal standing. I couldn't be thankful that I was able to make it through all the driving and all the waiting. I couldn't be thankful that I actually found an inspection center with an adequately air-conditioned waiting room. I just fixated on how difficult it was to take care of this, on how I didn't have anyone I could ask to do it for me, on how I stumbled and fell four different times because I am so weak today, on how frustrated I am that I awoke that way...need I go on? In short, equanimity is definitely NOT my middle name...oh, that it were!

At least my outlet for my frustrations is productive, eh?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Over the past few years, I have read several articles questioning whether or not there is a future for books, whether or not they are even needed with our current technology and the possibilities that lie before us.

One thing I have noted while riding the metro is the prevalence of books. Men, women, and children read on the metro. They read seated and standing in the aisle. Soldiers, executives, mothers, students, secretaries, consultants, name the occupation and you will find at least one of those people reading a book.

The books themselves are as diverse as the people reading them. I have noted biographies, romances, research studies, poetry, novels, etc. In addition to books, you will also see people reading newspapers, magazines, and even letters.

I shall take a stand, here and now. I shall take a stand and say that there will always be a need for the printed word. Technologies has its uses, nay...its wonders. Yet, there is no dying that the written words provides an escape, a great way of passing the time while trapped on a crowded, hot metro train. And on a plane, in a car, on a bus, in bed, on the couch, before a fire, in the tub, and a thousand and one more places!

I, for one, am so very thankful that publishing houses have not yet surrendered to technology and still print those secondary worlds that educate us, challenge us, entertain us, and altogether make our lives more fulfilled.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I need to move to Denmark. Immediately.

In Denmark there is a movement that fits me to a T: the B-Society. I have discovered that there are actually masses of people like me, an entire subset of our society who work best later, who eschew the morning.

I am not a morning person. Frankly, I am not really awake until some time after 10:00, even if I happen to be at work. Oh, I can be productive before then, but I am not really awake. I don't want to talk in the morning; I would rather pretend that I am not awake.

The later in the day, the more I come alive. I work better. I work smarter. I am more creative. I am awake.

The majority of my writing has taken place after 10:00 in the evening. Nearing midnight just gets the juices flowing.

No matter when I go to sleep, I do not actually fall deeply asleep until some time around 4:00 in the morning. My deepest sleep, the time that passes without notice, begins around 5:00 and I awake most refreshed when I can sleep until at least noon.

I need to move to Denmark. There I could find work with an employer who understand this part of my nature, who accepts it, who allows me to fit my job to my life rather than vice versa.

I am a B person. is great to finally realize who you are!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I left for work early because the humidity factor was supposed to feel like 101 degrees today. Therefore, after working nine hours straight, I left at 5:00. Now, normally I leave around 4:30 or 6:00, depending on if I have last minute requests (working with 7 people is a bit difficult to juggle). So, I did not realize that half the city leaves at just that time.

It took five trains, being just three steps from a door, before I was able to get on the first train. I actually only passed through the doors because someone shoved me quite hard from behind. I missed the second train connection by a step or two and had to wait for two green ones before another yellow one arrived. There we yellow riders were, all poised on the platform to rush on board, not daring to look each other in the eye lest we grow weak in our determination to put ourselves first in the rush to complete our hot, sweaty, sardine-like commute.

I made it on board, snagged the last seat, and tried to avoid looking at my fellow commuters who were crammed in the aisles and pressed against the glass partitions. Two stops later was the largest station on my journey home, and while I would not have imagined that it could have been possible, I watched even more people shove their way on board. I almost felt guilty for having a relatively roomy seat.

Standing on that first platform, waiting in the crush of humanity to slip on the train, it reminded me of when B and I were in Rome and riding the metro train there. Italians had no qualms about forcing their way on board. It didn't matter if you were lifted off your feet in the wave of riders intent on getting to their destination. It was up to you to survive, to actually shove back. I loved the rides and feared them, clutching B's backpack rather tightly so that I might not be separated from her. The time we shared on that trip, though filled with some ups and downs, is still so precious to me. I guess I was smiling, because this woman who had missed a few trains with me and was quite frustrated me asked me what so funny about our situation. I explained about Italy and that in comparison, the gentle pushing was not all that bad.

Of course, my guilt over my fellow passengers didn't last past the moment my head fell against the window as I drifted off to sleep. I still tired so easily and think of little else but sleep once I arrive home. I know that I am getting stronger, even if I am fainting still. I know that my asthma is much better after the trip to the Richmond ER, even if I am still coughing up junk from the pneumonia. I know that things will eventually change even though I am bleeding once more.

I am trying, really trying to be still before God. I am trying, because even I understand that there is nothing more that I can do. There is some reason, some purpose for all of this. I have learned more of myself and more of my faith. I have learned who my friends really are. I have been humbled by my doubts and my worries and how God has slipped in those dark moments with clear reminders that He is walking beside me, reminders of grace in gifts from others, reminders of truth in the balm of His word. And...I have found a peace in who I am that I have never known before.

Despite the mounting, staggering debt. Despite two months of struggling with my health. Despite it all, given what I have learned, what I have received, how could I regret this past year? I did not choose this. Given a choice, I would run hard and fast from this path. Yet, God choose it for me and in doing so bestowed the strength and mercy of His son upon me to help me navigate this journey.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I had the strangest second interview. Strange in that we were talking and laughing and kicking around ideas about the task before whoever took the job. It is the third second interview I have had in four days. All of them were good in that I was calm and peaceful, completely free from worry about what I said or what they thought of me. Still, I wonder, if interviews seem to go well, why does it not follow that I am offered a job? Hmm....

If the two strongest interviews were both offered to me, I would have an extremely difficult choice: One job is a long commute, with a lower salary and a weak title, but at a place where I would be thrilled to work--a children and family services organization. The other place is just 10 minutes down the road, with a great title and good pay, but is writing about tough, technical water research. One I would relish and the other would help me get through paying off the crazy amount of debt I have wracked up over the past year. While I want...NEED...a job, I truly do not wish to choose.

Now...all I can do is wait...

Monday, June 25, 2007

One of my favorite Sugarland songs is "Stand Back Up." Funny how lyrics can speak to clearly, so intimately to you. I've been falling a lot lately, literally and figuratively. How great is God that He helps me stand back up...

Go ahead and take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before,
I may stumble, yeah I might fall,
Only human aren't we all?
I might lose my way, but hear me when I say,
I will stand back up,
You'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid, and I don't feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,
I've been beaten up and bruised,
I've been kicked right off my shoes,
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe,
When the darkness tries to get me,
There's a light that just won't let me,
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes,
But I'll stand back up,
I've weathered all these storms,
But I just turn them into wind, so I can fly,
What don't kill you makes you stronger,
When I take my last breath,
That's when I'll just give up,
So, go ahead and take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
You might win this round but you can't keep me down,
'Cause I'll stand back up,
And you'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,
You'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

lots of sleeping...
grateful the coughing is better...
savoring the memories of great music...
time for another nap...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The concert was everything I wanted it to be...even if I ended up in an ER in Richmond. It was thrilling and restful at the same time to stand in the middle of a crowd of people all singing along to the music filling the air around them. If only there weren't so many smokers there.

I coughed for the first two hours of the ride down there (traffic made the trip twice as long as need be). I finally calmed down after four rounds of both inhalers and a special cough suppressant pill I have. However, as it has been since Monday, it seems like I am only well if I am inhaling medicine.

I had to start using my inhaler again and it wasn't really helping. Despite coughing my way through the concert, I still enjoyed the moment. As soon as it was over, I sought out the medics to see if they had a nebulizer. I knew there was no way I could drive back home without some help first.

However, the Albuterol didn't touch the attack and I grew worse and worse. Shortly there after, I was riding in an ambulance to a hospital wondering if I was going to still be breathing by the time I got there because it felt as if my throat was swelling.

The Richmond hospital was great, was an absolute blessing to me. The staff were kind and supportive and listened intently to me as they tried to stop the attack. Given the fact that my blood pressure was bottoming out and I kept choking from time to time as the cough spasms wracked my body, they administered Epinephrine and IV Benedryl. Within five minutes of the Epinephrine, I was breathing ever so much easier. For the first time since Monday, I felt as if the asthma attack was finally over. The ER doc wondered if I was developing an allergy to the Albuterol, limiting the relief that I could get from it. In any case, those meds along with Solu-Medrol (a standard emergency med--Prednisone) turned the tide for me.

I am quite weak and very, very shaky still. My heart rate is still between 100 and 110 even while lying on the couch. I slept until just after 2:00 p.m. today and feel as if I could sleep at least a week more. Yet I am breathing much, much easier. My coughing now is minimal, just enough to start moving the congestion that has been building up during the past five days. My chest and throat are sore still, but each hour I spend not coughing out of control is a hour I spend feeling better. The fatigue should pass as I rest more. The shaking should subside as the meds leave my system.

I am going to try to get into see the pulmonologist as soon as possible to see if I might finally have the key to what I need when an attack cannot be under control and to see if I really might be developing an allergy to Albuterol or if I just had too much in such a short time.

So, while going to that concert might have seemed as a crazy thing to do, ultimately it may have been just what I needed...on several fronts.

Hmm... if I could just stop being so darned cold at the oddest times. You know, I actually used the heater on the drive home. Now, that's just plain crazy!

Friday, June 22, 2007

I had an interview today that was quite confusing. I had applied for a communications position in January and got a call yesterday for an interview. Once there, one of the two staff conducting the interview started describing a position that was not communications work. It turns out they never were forwarded my resume for the communications position, but someone had done so for this one. It is basically development work (raising human resources and capital) for their foster care program. I am most interested in family services work and what they do. I find it intriguing that they have a housing component as well. However, the job itself is not something I have ever done. I mean, where would I go to raise more foster parents? Once the shock of the mix-up wore off, they were still interested in me, so much that I have a second interview next Tuesday. I just don't know what to think. We didn't talk salary and that really is the bottom line for me. The commute stinks, but it has free parking. Using the metro is hard on me. Monday's interview is a place just down the road to commute. However, it would be writing about water research and reclamation, very technical and difficult work.

I have much to think about...

Just now, I am nebulizing, taking a risk by inhaling more Albuterol. I am doing so because I am going to a Sugarland concert that is just over 100 miles away. My asthma is still bad, but I have wanted to see them in concert for two years. I have been looking forward to this concert for two months, focusing on making it through my health battles and financial worries to get to a moment of joy in music. I don't know if this is the most insane decision I have made; I am going to get in the car and see if I can get there.

I want this...I need this.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I think I could lose it if only I had the energy.

While I was coughing quite violently during the appointment, all my doctor said was that I need to go back to the ER, that I should find another pulmonologist if she couldn't see me while I was in distress, and that she herself just couldn't help with the asthma more than the basic drugs.

She couldn't believe that the ER doc sent me home, and she told me to go back and insist on treatment or go to a third hospital.

Why do I need to insist? Why does this have to be so hard? Why does she see so clearly that my asthma is out of control and yet hospital staff treat me like I am just making myself sick on purpose? Cough Variant Asthma has been identified since 1979. I have more than a dozen articles that I have found in which I have learned more about my disease in the past two months than I have over the past six years. I feel like insisting that the staff who treat me stop and read some of them first!

I didn't go back to the ER. I am not sure what to do. I used the nebulizer, but am worried about the strain on my heart. I am exhausted and confused and scared.

I did have an interview today. I had had a phone interview with the executive director of this association last Friday. It was a rather convivial conversation that left me quite hopeful. He cracked a few jokes and was genuinely interested in my ideas. However, today he had the deputy executive director sit in on the meeting. The other man had not read my cover letter, resume, or on-line portfolio. He didn't see me as anything other than a writer. The whole experience was disappointing. But every interview is a good one if only for the experience, eh?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I am not better. I am, in my opinion, worse.

My heart rate climbed to the 190's, so I stopped using the nebulizer. The ER doc said to do it every three hours. I thought that was too much, but the coughing is exhausting, so I followed his advice.

My chest and face look like I have spent days in the sun, red as a tomato. My heart is pounding so hard you can see my pulse in my neck, stomach, wrists, and the top of my feet. I am scared, but trying to hang on until I see my own doctor tomorrow. I called and left a message to see if I could come in sooner, but her office is horrible about passing on messages.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I spent the night last night in the ER with an asthma attack. For two weeks now, I have been feeling tight, feeling as if I was heading in this direction. I tried to tell both my doctor and the pulmonologist, but I guess I didn't really convince them that something was happening. Perhaps if I had just started using my nebulizer I might have avoided this, but I am not convinced that would be the case.

The frustrating part is that I left the ER quite week and still coughing. I just don't think they got the attack stopped even with the three rounds of medicines that are quite an assault on my body on top of the stress and strain of the attack. I tried to tell the ER doctor that I still didn't feel right, but he said I was good to go if I continued to use my nebulizer. He said that I had pneumonia on my right lung and needed to let the antibiotics work. Of course, he saw me after the third round of meds before they were wearing off again. What could I do but leave?

With three strong narcotics on board, I should be sleeping just now, especially having been up all night, but I am not. My heart rate is ranging between 140 and 160 from the Albuterol and I cannot do any but huddle on the couch trembling like a leaf.

Asthma stinks!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My car failed inspection today...for tires that still had significant tread and had only been driven 34,000 miles. I could have just screamed. I was told that I had 14 days to get new tires and get it re-inspected.

I have my oil changed and the car inspected back at the dealer because it is free. However, I really, truly feel as if this was just a specious claim to get money. After all, new tires and labor would be $1,000 at the dealership. I declined their offer and drove to the Good Year dealership I have used before. The building was no longer there.

I drove around until I found an NTB and went inside to see what my options were. But by that time, I was so frustrated and so worried about money that the salesperson's words filled the air around me and weighted me down. In desperation, I called B and asked to speak with her husband. When G got on the phone, I begged him to listen to the options and make a decision for me. In a moment of pure grace poured down upon me from our Father above, G calmly listened to me, applied his thoughtful analysis, and told me what to do. He will probably never know how much that meant to me.

The hospital bill, though not my fault in its rejection, weighs heavily on my mind. I've had more medical expenses in co-pays and medicines than money I have earned this year. I have thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. And I can now add $621 in tires to that mound of financial strain.

I just need a break, just a moment when I can take a breath and not be confronted by yet another health struggle, another bill, another question with no answers.

God is sovereign even in this day. This I know to be true. While at Toyota, I was so cold in the waiting room, I could hardly stand it. Just when I thought I couldn't take it a moment more, this man who had seen me shivering while waiting for his own car to be repaired came back from his car and handed me a thick flannel shirt that was warmed by the day's heat. When I couldn't make a decision, when I could think through what I should do, God provided me someone who could. I know He is walking beside me. I know He is.

This I know. This I cherish. And yet I still long for a break...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The place where I temp has these big glass doors that only open one way. I have lost track of how many times I have bonked into them trying to open them the wrong way. After much thought, I came up with a litany to help the situation. It is either push or pull. You come before you leave. "L" comes before "s," so pull to come and push to leave.

I wrote the litany down and carried it with me for over a month. Now that I have it memorized, I start reciting it as I approach the doors, hoping against hope that I might successfully open them.

Even with my litany, I would say that I find that success only about two-thirds of the time.

I cannot help but think that it shouldn't be this way. I shouldn't battle opening doors. I shouldn't approach them with fear and trepidation when others are around to witness my utter cognitive ineptitude. I should be able to breeze through them as does everyone else in the office.

Sometimes...sometimes I almost hate those doors. I hate them for how clearly they expose how much I have lost, how much I struggle to navigate what should be simple, and how very different I am because of the disease that plays itself out in my life in so many cruel ways.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I rewarded myself today, after taking a nap when I got home from my temp job, by organizing a binder with all my medical records, articles, receipts, and correspondence. Something about creating order from chaos is oh so soothing to me.

I meet with a lawyer on the 12th. I am not sure how I feel about doing so or what might result, however I do want some kind of response to what happened while I was in the hospital, and there is no way I am paying a bill that was denied because the hospital did not follow protocol with the insurance company.

In the small hours of the night, in the quiet of the afternoon, in the silence of the morning...I remember the absolute fear I felt having the asthma attack and having hospital staff stand around debating whether or not I even had asthma while I begged them to help me. I remember when I stopped breathing. I remember how I felt when a nurse announced to the emergency response team that "she claimed she has cough variant asthma," in such a belittling, disbelieving voice. I remember getting weaker and weaker while the staff treated me like I was crazy.

Reading through the records, I discovered that I was right. Because I had trouble waking up from the anesthesia and shaking off the effects of two narcotics, I was diagnosed as mentally unstable with three different psychiatric conditions...this just hours after the surgery! Despite being drugged, despite having clear weakness and neurological symptoms, despite having two asthma attacks, everything was dismissed as being psychogenic. I was making it all up they thought!

The recordation is filled with words like patient "claims" and has snide comments from time to time. I am noted as being hysterical, agitated, and severely anxious. Like sheep, one person after another marked everything as being due to psychosis rather than even considering the organic. I mean, really, how can anyone decide someone is mentally unstable with three strong depressive drugs coursing through a person's system? Yes, tests were done, but not ones that make sense. For example, they checked for a pulmonary embolism, but did not check my blood gasses or do any spirometery following the asthma attacks.

I've lost over 20 pounds. I am so tired that I cannot make it through most days without a long nap. My limbs tremble. I have difficulty walking. I have fainted six times. And...I am still bleeding.

I stopped breathing. Something went horribly wrong, and I was treated so egregiously. I...stopped...breathing. Something went wrong.

When I first read through those records, I was so angry and hurt and confused that I could hardly stand it. Days passed, and each time I looked at them, those feelings washed over me anew. Tonight I took their power away.

They are mine now. They are organized, notated, and lined up for ammunition. So there!

Monday, June 04, 2007

My dear friend B came to help me celebrate my 40th birthday. She had traveled last weekend, but made the sacrifice of packing herself up once more and hitting the road...a bit longer on the way down because of traffic.

Because I am so tired, we hung out in my house for the whole three days of her visit. But we played games and watched movies and ate pizza. She brought her baby, so we also traded off whispering sweet nothings in his ear so we could watch his infectious smile. B even pumped before she came so that I could give him a bottle. I also fed him some cereal, but my delivery was a bit rough because I tremble even more with small movements. J didn't seem to mind the fact that much of the cereal ended up on his face before making it into his mouth.

B is amazing. She is so encouraging and loving. I truly am a better person when I am around her. On my birthday morning, she wrote and then delivered the most wonderful of letters, words that soaked into my heart and became a balm to me. Before she left, she placed Post-it notes all over the house with reasons why she loves me. I have found 15 thus far. I transferred them to the mirror in the living area so that I can read them whenever I want.

I did try to make part of the visit about her. So very much of my life has been about how poorly I feel, about the problem with the hospital, about being unemployed for a year now, about my dire financial status. I wanted this weekend of my 40th birthday to be about someone else. I washed her feet and gave her a pedicure, I gave her a lotion hand massage, and I ironed her husband's shirts. I cooked breakfast for her and didn't let her do any dishes. I cut her hair (I think it was my best job thus far) and gave her backrubs. I changed most of the diapers as well. I wish I could have done more. She deserves it. For me, it was a sweet relief to think on something other than the mess I have been floundering in lately.

This morning, saying goodbye, was the first time in a long time that I didn't cry as I watched her drive away. There was such peace in my heart from her visit. Such rest I had in her presence. To be with someone who loves you, likes you, and sees the best in you is the greatest gift one can receive.

Of course...I took a four hour nap this afternoon. While she was hear, I was most reluctant to waste nary a moment of her visit in sleeping. Though I am quite tired despite my nap, I don't regret a single minute of her visit (even when she was clobbering me at games).

Kashi loves B as much as he does me. When she comes, his greeting is truly something to behold. For a while now, I have wanted to get one if his greetings on video tape. However, I keep forgetting in my excitement of her arrival. This time, when she called to tell me she was close, I set out the camera in preparation.

Oh, boy, he out did himself in expressing his joy at the sight of her! What was most adorable was the fact that after Kashi gave her some kisses, he moved over to the car seat and swiped J's cheeks a few times.

When she leaves, he always mopes about the house for a long while. He will trot down to the basement to look for her, coming back up with slumped shoulders and a pitiful expression in his eyes.

B loves my dog. She cares for him and accepts his quirky behavior. I think he knows this very well and appreciates the gift she gives him in her care as much as do I.

It warms the cockles of my heart that she does...

Quirky Dog Behavior: Being frighted by the sound of a dust buster, brooms, Quicken starting, people clipping their nails, storms, flashing lights, and the chime of the camera. Barking unceasingly until someone fetches whatever toy he feels is too difficult for him to retrieve. Distributing his toys all over the house. Shall I go on?