New Trick

I learned something new at my most recent doctor appointment for my neck, shoulder, nerves, spine, etc… I learned that there’s a way to completely deactivate my left arm. 😳😧 Seriously. It switches to rag-doll mode and isn’t good for a GD thing. πŸ₯Ί My neck was close to frozen and the muscles were all jammed up in my left shoulder and neck, so I asked him to show me some stretches that might be able to break me out of that.

What he showed me definitely worked… it relaxed the constantly-tense muscles and reduced some of the pain, but man… for about 10 minutes it also made me think that I wasn’t gonna have use of my arm again. ☹️ I ended up finding a place to park in the far end of the parking lot so I could lie on the hard ground, brace my scapula, and do some range-of-motion type stretches to get it working again. πŸ˜£πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

What a weird feeling though, to get in the car and mentally place both of my hands on the steering wheel… for only my right arm to actually do it as the left one just hung there. πŸ₯Ί It didn’t feel “asleep” or tingly or anything, it just didn’t respond. Scary shit. So, it’s not a great feeling to know that the painful / annoying tension has to be there (at least in some part) in order for my left arm to be even slightly useful. 😠 Because when you totally relax those bad muscles, there aren’t enough muscles left that are attached to good nerves that make it do what it’s supposed to do. 😟 And yeah, I know this is a weird blog entry, but trust me… when an entire arm suddenly just doesn’t work, it’s pretty jarring.

As I was laying on the ground, moving my arm up, down, and around… I thought for sure that someone would either send a medic out to check on me or, more likely, someone would call the cops on the weirdo lying on the ground, flailing around. πŸ˜πŸ˜―πŸš” So I don’t know how I feel about all this. Learned some specific stretches and motions that help relieve the pain and pulled muscles, but at a pretty big cost. At least the option is there, I guess, and everything is temporary… both good and bad. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

No more news on the other stuff yet, but I’m taking a break… I need to lie down.

Poison Ivy

Okay, I’ve had it for about a week now, so I think I’m entitled to do a little bitching. Well, probably not, actually… since it was my dumb ass who went out to clip a few feeds from the flower beds without wearing gloves. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ What makes it worse is that it’s not the first time that I’ve done it. Every couple of years something motivates me to cut some of the crap out of the flower beds, and each time I end up with poison ivy, poison oak, poison whatever on my hands… πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Thankfully most of it is on the back of my right hand, with a little bit on my left and some random spots on both of my arms. But I’ve got some topical steroid goo that I’ve been using, and then I have calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream waiting on the bench. But lemme tell ya… even though I know it’s not a good thing for it, having hot, hot shower water hitting itchy poison ivy areas is the most awesome yet most horrible feeling possible, but at the same time. πŸ˜πŸ˜£πŸ˜‹

I’ve never claimed to have any allergies, but I’d have to say that whatever this is breaks that idea. I can see the puffy on the back of my hand, and of course some of it is blistering, but while it’s annoying… really annoying… it makes me think of the poor folks who are allergic to peanuts, shellfish, etc- causing a similar reaction all over. 😯😬 I guess some people have to even go to the ER if they get poison ivy… but with folks like that, I guess I’m just not sure when you know if you should go. πŸ€”πŸ˜³

I guess that’s because mine isn’t near that point… and also because it really seems like one of those things where you’d sit in the waiting room for an hour and a half, and they’d send you on your way with a prescription for whatever poison ivy goo you’ve probably already got at home. 😏 Meh… distracting myself now with a movie that Dad suggested. I was gonna fall back on a Bond movie since I couldn’t think of anything that I “haven’t seen yet, but should” until Dad reminded me about Age of Adaline. That’s one that I remember wanting to see even when it first came out in theaters, so I don’t know how it has stayed under my radar for the past five years or whatever it’s been… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Another Person’s Dream. Yay.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got a decades-old blog, somewhere, where I used to regularly keep track of my weird ass dreams. But sometimes they’re interesting enough to merit a spot in the regular blog. Last night’s dream was a single, long, awful, hyper-realistic “action” nightmare. 😳 (And when it comes to what I may have seen, heard, or done during the prior day to cause any of it… who knows.) The cast, for whatever reason, was mostly people that I went to high school with. πŸ€” Not necessarily even the “closer” of my friends.

It started off with Chris Woolard and Rich Nagel showing me their raptor pen, where yes… they had a real baby raptor, probably the size of a human toddler. They said I could go in and play with it, but that they didn’t advise it. 😧 I did anyway, though. It immediately knocked me down to my hands and knees and then proceeded to bite and attack my right shoulder. (Why my right? My left one is the one that’s damaged. Maybe fear of losing use of my remaining good arm?)

It chomped into me several times, finally just locking its teeth deep into my shoulder. πŸ˜–πŸ˜« I fell even closer to the ground, blood pouring into a puddle on the floor around me. I stayed as still as I could, which caused it to finally stop biting into me – and I was then face down on the floor, unintentionally blowing bubbles in my own blood as I tried to keep my breathing shallow enough that it would leave me alone. 😯

Brian White then pulled me up from the floor and helped me out of the pen, and had someone bandage up my shoulder. πŸ€• As soon as that was done, I started looking for my phone so that I could leave… but it wasn’t in my pocket, wasn’t on my desk, wasn’t anywhere that it should have been. 😳 So I began to frantically look for it, with the panic of knowing that whoever had it would have access to my entire life…

As I walked up and down this dark auditorium, looking all around the chairs, desks, and people – eventually Matt McKinster motioned me towards a huge “home improvement store” area just outside the room we were currently in. πŸ€” As soon as I got out there, I saw Jamie Faught carrying light posts for a customer… but he was about 20 feet tall, and they were like street light light posts. 😧 He nodded and smiled at me, but as I drew his attention away from what he was doing – the posts he was carrying smashed into dozens of giant ceiling fans that were above us all.

(If you’re still here and reading… well done. Other people’s dreams are so not-interesting… heh)

Everyone in the store, who were all regular sized like me… we all started running and screaming, because Jamie was falling, the posts were falling, and the smashed ceiling fans were falling – all in our direction. 😯😫 Some of the fans were still spinning like airplane propellers, which resulted in several violent “glass tornados” from which we all had to escape. ☹️ Luckily I spotted a big metal glove on the floor near me… 🀨

I put the glove on and shielded some people behind me as the glass shards began hitting us. The glove was able to deflect most of the debris, but we were still getting sliced and gashed by the stray pieces of glass as they flew by. πŸ˜–πŸ˜­πŸ€• I was able to save five or six people before a different glass tornado attacked us from above, rather than straight on like the others had done. πŸ‘†πŸ»πŸ˜³ It rained down on us so hard that it broke through the floor underneath us, sending us all falling into a darkened pit below.

At that point the wind stopped, the glass stopped flying around, the screaming people stopped screaming… and those of us that survived falling into the pit realized that we needed to climb our way out, over piles of busted glass and even more busted people. 😟☹️ When I made it to the edge at the top, thankfully my friend Desiree was there to take my hand and successfully pull me to safety. πŸ˜ƒ

She was crying and acting so sorry that she wasn’t there to protect me when it all started, but told me that even though she was late – that I can always rely on her to be there for me eventually, when it really counts. 😊 There was other little stuff after that, which I can’t really remember, and then I woke up. And I was friggin’ tired, man. 😞 I mean, I know all of this shit just comes off as bizarre – but imagine experiencing it all as vividly as you’re experiencing things in the room around you right now as you read this blog entry. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜

Crazy shit. I’ll definitely take a pass on any dreams tonight if they’re gonna be anything like that again. πŸ˜“

Unfortunate Opportunity

In the same way that it can be awkward to discuss “after death” financial topics with someone from whom you might be getting an inheritance, talking publicly about investment possibilities that are coming on the back of a stock market that’s plummeting due to fear of a COVID-19 pandemic… it does feel a little bit wrong, but the opportunities of a down market also cannot be ignored. 😐

The Dow Jones has lost more than 12% of its value over the past seven days of trading. Unfortunately, the cause isn’t solely due to “scary thoughts” around the spread of the virus. 😟 With China being ground zero, the precautions that need to be taken and the effects that are already being experienced by the industries and workforce there… it was inevitable that markets around the world would reflect the disruption. 😳 Global economies, global trade, global investing… it’s all great stuff, until it isn’t.

Before COVID-19 was even a thing, I had already started researching different types of investing that my family (historically speaking) never really took advantage of. πŸ€” I’ve tended to use methods that I’ve seen work for my dad and my aunt, and they probably used methods that they saw work for their parents. 🧐 It makes investing feel comfortable, but the returns are usually modest in comparison.

The volatility in the markets isn’t going anywhere, so I’ll have plenty of time to continue reading, learning, and eventually planning… even if “the plan” ends up being that I don’t change much of anything. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ And while loads of people have been cashing out, to “protect” their gains from the past year or longer, the farther the markets fall – the better it is for folks who are only just now wanting to get in. 🀨

I suppose I should mention that I’m not thinking about individual stocks when I’m talking about all of this. I don’t know enough yet to speculate on individual companies and their ability to bounce back. I’m thinking mostly about ETFs with holdings that are properly weighted to match gains / losses of the Dow. πŸ˜πŸ€“

Historically, you’re on pretty solid ground if that’s what you’re invested in… but just as there have been extremely good years, there have been some really bad ones as well. More often than not though, the gains for each year have been remarkably good. (Which doesn’t mean a heck of a lot if you didn’t buy your shares on (and only on) January 1st of each year… heh) Meh… just kinda thinkin’ here… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

Weather Complications

Gen’s trip to Ohio ended up being a bit of an adventure. ✈️ The original plan had her taking off from NJ, landing in NC with a half-hour to catch her connecting flight, and then onto Columbus. But for whatever reason, their plane landed in Charlotte only a couple of minutes before the connecting flight took off… so anyone that was continuing to Ohio missed their flight. πŸ˜ŸπŸ˜•πŸ˜ πŸ˜ πŸ˜πŸ˜ŸΒ πŸ›« American Airlines obviously knew they screwed up, and had everyone quickly booked on the next flight out to Columbus, but the result was that she ended up getting here about an hour and a half later than anticipated.

It was almost 4pm by the time we were leaving the airport, and that’s when the flag placement ceremony was supposed to beginΒ – so we didn’t even really try to hurry, assuming that we were just gonna miss it. (And that was the main reason that she was coming to visit.) But as we were heading to Lancaster, she was texting with Toni (who was already there) and we learned that the crappy weather and other “opening remarks” type stuff had kept everyone inside one of the buildings at the fairgrounds πŸ˜―πŸ€”πŸ˜ƒ and that we’d possibly be able to make it in time for the flag placement after all.

The first couple of flags had already been handed out by the time we were pulling in, but it worked out so that they called Dad’s name just as we had parked and joined everyone standing there. πŸ™‚πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Couldn’t have cut it any closer. 😎 They go alphabetically, so that meant there was still plenty of time before Uncle Rick, Grandpa Shepherd, and Genesee’s dad’s names were called. Any other year that would have been great, but this year… whoothe weather, man. πŸ˜―πŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈπŸ’¨πŸ˜£

Ominous dark clouds, half drizzle, half sleet, freezing winds gusting so hard that people were struggling to hold their flags… it was just awful. 😟 (They had a huge eagle on hand as well, and he wasn’t too thrilled about things either.) πŸ¦… And as much as I’d have liked for Dad to have been able to go… at least when we were talking about it in the daysΒ prior… I’m glad that he decided not to. With the flight delays, getting there late, mother nature going crazy, and him not feeling that great over the past few days anyway – he definitely made the right choice. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Other years that I’ve gone, loads of people would sit in the stands, listening to the names, ranks, wars, etc as they waited for their person’s name to be called. But there was no sitting this time. The bleachers were cold and wet, so everyone just huddled together… enduring the weather until they could place their flag and then flee to their car. πŸš™πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸƒπŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈ I don’t blame anyone… it was just unfortunate that this year’s event didn’t have the same “feel” as previous years because of all that other crap. πŸ˜•

We did end up going back through there the next day though, when the weather was much nicer, to see how many flags were displayed – and to pay the proper respect to the whole thing that none of us were really able to give the day before. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ§πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ We did take a handful of pictures on the actual placement day, and boy do they not convey what the experience was actually like. 😏 (But of course once everything was overΒ the weather calmed down considerably.) We’re still fortunate to have made it though, since this is the first year that we had flags for Dad and Gen’s dad – so it would have sucked if we weren’t able to place them ourselves.

Okay, it’s been a busy couple days, so I’ll follow up soon with an entry covering anything else worth mentioning from Gen’s stay.Β I didn’t even do half as much as her… but I’m out of juice. πŸ™„πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Bubble Doesn’t Always Work

It’s been a rough, rough week… but I’m not even gonna talk about all of it. I don’t want to take the chance of spreading more negative emotions just because it helps me to get things off my chest. Going to bed early tonight. Hoping for a reset of my body and mind. Glad I made it through the week… sadly, the same can’t be said for one of my old friends from school. He was a couple grades ahead of me, so I was actually closer to his little brother. Definitely one of those things where nobody even saw it coming. But yeah, I’m tired of this week… so the sooner I get to sleep, the sooner it will be over and I can try to start fresh.

Happy (late) birthday, Dad…Β  trying to get good enough where I can visit soon. Sorry… that’s all I can say. 😞

A Tale of Two Mother’s Days

It’s been a rough week, with today being a lot harder than I expected. Talk about different groups of people having vastly different experiences on a holiday. 😟 I haven’t been on Facebook much anyway, but today, the contrast of the posts from the people who were spending the day with their moms, to the posts of those of us who no longer can… ugh… I should have known better than to even open the app.

But by the end of the evening, I had kinda changed my mind about that. Just as everyone wants to share their happy events from today, I realized that there are a whole lot of people who need to share their memories… to not let their moms be forgotten among all of the ongoing activities of the day, just because their moms don’t happen to be around any longer. πŸ˜ͺ And I ended up being one of those people. How could I not post something about Mom? And how could I not be there to click off an emotion or offer some words to friends of mine who are feeling the same way about the day as I was?

So I posted one of the recently scanned slides of Mom from when she was young, playing with “baby me” on a swing in the park. 😊 And I can’t even remember how I worded it, but basically I just tried to show that I wanted to recognize everyone else who has lost their mom (especially since last Mother’s Day) and saying something about how I know that everyone thinks that their mom was the best, and that everyone was absolutely right about that. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I dunno… trying to be a little lighthearted I guess, but honestly – what can you say? So many happy memories, but such a sucky feeling…

And I thought I was feeling basically useless over the past few days? Today, the only thing I was able to do was pick up Brianna as planned, so we could go to the nursery and get some flowers to plant in Mom and Christina’s memory. πŸ˜• I’m glad that Genesee got me that little tin planter box for Easter and suggested the flower idea… but man was it hard to get up and actually do that today. Normally Bri and I function as a distraction from each others “bleh” but there was no avoiding it today. But she picked the same type of flowers that Brantley got her for Mother’s Day last year, we got them planted in the tin, and they’re now decorating the doorstep to her new apartment. πŸ™‚ So many positive things have happened for her in the past few months, stuff that she desperately wishes her mom was still around to see… meh… I don’t think I need to explain further. You either know how it feels, or you’re gonna eventually.

MomFlowers

But I came back home and turned into a physical, mental, and social potato… and I think Bri took a page out of my playbook and just called it a night in the early evening, trying to just go to sleep and make the day go away. πŸ˜” I feel shitty because I haven’t e-mailed Dad in about a week now, and I thought today might be the day… but then, yeah… 😣 I’ve just gotta focus on all the good things about Mom that I can remember tonight as I try to fall asleep, and hope that tomorrow I can wake up and somehow turn this shitty state of mind around and start functioning like a semi-normal person again. 😐 Being twitchy like this in itself isn’t what really bothers me… what bothers me is when it affects the people I care about and the people that care about me. And it’s definitely doing that right now.

*repeating to myself until I get it*“Mom wouldn’t want me sitting here feeling shitty that she’s gone.”

(What is it with me, and not being able to process the type of shit that millions of people process every day? πŸ˜”)

The Other Stuff

TRIGGER WARNING: This entry is gonna cover some of the other depressing shit that has also been filling my thoughts and influencing my mood recently. But I think it’ll help to explain why when it did hit me, about Mom being gone gone… why it was so easy for it to knock me down and keep me there.

About a year ago my best friend Jim lost his mom to cancer. At the end of last year, Brianna, another of my closest friends, lost her mom to cancer. And Christina was more than just “Bri’s mom” to me… she treated me like family. Rick, a classmate of mine, has been fighting cancer for two years now, and rarely posts to Facebook anymore, which seems like a bad sign. Then on the first of this month, anotherΒ school friend, Stephanie, died in her sleep from unknown and absolutely unexpected causes. Her oldest son turned 18 just two days later. And then today, my “cousin-in-law” Gloria lost her sister Wanda to cancer as well.

Jim’s mom was in her early 70s, but Christina was only in her early 40s, Rick is my age, Stephanie was only two years older than me, and I think Wanda may have been barely into her 50s. And Mom’s best friend through the entirety of her adulthood, Cecil… she passed away within the year as well. I’m actually sitting here afraid that I’ve neglected to mention someone, because it seems like every direction that I turn – sickness and death is what I see, and in many cases – in people far, far too young for most to even think it’s a possibility.

(Oof… this is gonna be a downer of an entry, that’s for sure…)

And of course, having cancer myself… or at least having had cancer (fingers crossed)… all of the stuff mentioned above doesn’t exactly do a lot to put my mind at ease. A long life before passing… that is something that hurts, but we understand it. People dying at my age or younger, from things like lung cancer when they were very vocal non-smokers… those are the ones where it starts to make less sense. And then ones like Stephanie that are there one day, making posts about her dog and her son’s upcoming birthday, then *poof* … simply gone the next. No rhyme or reason, and I’m not good when it comes to shit like that.

But for my stuff, I did get another appointment with my family doctor at the beginning of this week, tried to sum up all of the things I’ve been talking about here, and told her that I’m not really comfortable with what (to me) feels like a lack of concern or urgency once my thyroid removal and radiation treatment was completed. I’m not being neglected or anything… but after the surgery, radiation, and scan – other than the thyroid guy getting my levels right via medication, nothing else has happened or was scheduled to happen until July. I realized that I’m not okay with that. “You have cancer. We cut the cancer thing out. We think we got all the cancer. See you in half-a-year.”Β Christina also got the “we think we got it all” speech after her first surgery as well (I was there) so… umm… no. Not good enough.

It would be another thing if I honestly just felt great, and all these other things were just spooking me, but that’s not the case. Without going into details, there are things that just feel “wrong” for lack of a better term, and since I’ve gone with the “flashy” insurance this year I would be dumb to not metaphorically pound my fist on the table and ask for a little more. So that’s where I’m at now… the start of “a little more” phase. Tomorrow I’m seeing someone regarding my come-and-go, sometimes excruciatingly painful back problem… and, thankfully, with the lab being in the same building, my primary care provider has ordered an assload of blood and urine tests to not only hit on the regular “physical” type stuff, but cancer indicators as well… so I’ll do those right after the back guy.

So yeah… I’ll admit that with all of this stuff on my mind, I’ve essentially disappeared as far as my friends would describe it. At least in person, I mean. One, it’s hard to want to go out and do anything fun or visit with anyone when my brain is so full of this shit… and two, more than half of the time I just physically feel too crappy to even consider it. Now that it’s going to be looked into with a little more detail, I’m hoping that with good or at least encouraging results I’ll be more likely to spend at least a few days trying to act like everything is fine, and hopefully trying to start living my life again.

I’ve been out to see Dad a few times in the past month and a half, but when it’s hard to make myself get up and do anything even on good days – I know that I’ve not been visiting as much as I should or as much as I want. It’s hard to explain “I just can’t.” to someone, when it’s hard for you to even understand yourself. I can’t remember the last time I’ve opened my e-mail app, but I’m gonna try to at least start doing that again. My biggest problem is that I’m not exactly some cheery ray of sunshine right now, and I’ll probably struggle to come up with e-mails to Dad that are any less depressing than this particular blog entry. I guess that’ll force me to really think about each day, or couple of days, to find the little good (or at least “okay”) moments that I’m sure are there. But yeah, that’s the plan for now…

(And I’ll try to limit the depressing topics here in the blog for a while after today’s posts. Wish me luck.)