Wringer

Pardon the length of this entry, but yesterday was kinda tough, basically as I anticipated. Anxiety had me up most of the night, so I ended up doing all this stuff on only three hours of sleep – but at least that meant I was awake at dawn, so I could just hop up and start getting ready instead of grumbling at my multiple alarms squawking at me every two minutes until I rise and shine.

From 8am until 12.5pm I was doing “something medical.” 😐 Starting with my monthly neck doctor appointment, where we also covered my upcoming surgery, some of the medications that I might have to start taking because of it, and how they should or shouldn’t react with whatever meds I’m getting from him for my fusion spot, nerve damage, and grumpy muscles in the area. πŸ˜³πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ

Next was another blood draw for multiple panels of testing. πŸ’‰ I already had this done a little over a month ago, but they not only wanted to get the most current results, but there were also specific tests that they needed that weren’t in my other test. I volunteered my right arm, and the girl did her best… I mean, she hit the biggest vein available there, but for some reason it was only spitting a little bit of blood – and it was definitely not enough to fill the three vials needed. 😯 My left arm ended up being successful, and of course now I look like a junkie with two big bruises on each elbow-pit. 😏

Next was theΒ electrocardiogram, which actually didn’t take that long due to it (thankfully) not including stress testing or anything like that. Just the normal dozen-or-so electrical leads, a few minutes of holding really still, and on to the next. πŸ™‚ But the next thing was where it started to get shitty. πŸ˜₯

Since they’re going to have to manipulate my head quite a bit while they’re working on my neck, and since they’re aware of the C5-C7 fusion, they had to take a crapload of x-rays while my head and neck were in extremely stretched, compressed, or otherwise super-uncomfortable positions. ☒😣 I do my best each day to not move my head in all of the ways that I had to do for those x-rays, so my neck was fucked after everything was said and done. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ So not only will my surgery site be painful, but the ways they are gonna have to move my huge lump-of-a-head around while I’m under anesthesia… let’s just say that I’m really not looking forward to how that area’s gonna be feeling when I wake up.

I almost wasn’t able to complete all the scans that they needed, since one of them (while standing) was given with the instructions of “Put both of your arms straight up, directly over your head.” 😧 If there was a bar or something above my head I could have done it with little issue, but the only way I could do it without my left arm shaking was to get the arm up there, then actually lean against the plate/target of the x-ray machine to basically jam it up there in that position. πŸ˜¬πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ The fella doing it was really patient and understanding, and after reviewing them he said that the results should be fine, including that one which I thought would be pretty uncertain.

And I know, to a healthy person that all probably doesn’t sound like much… but man was I worn out after everything was done. πŸ˜“ Between the lack of sleep, the multiple stops, the blood loss… heh, the painful x-rays, and then my leg jumping around between “fine” and “omg stop” heh… I was just thankful that I was able to knock all of that stuff out in one day, along with being able to just go home and recover at my own pace. πŸ˜” It’s all good though… all of this stuff is now done with a couple weeks to spare, so I’m just happy to keep everything on track.

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You Might Not See It

Despite all my bitching, I can at least say that I’m doing better than I was several months ago – at least regarding my anxiety, my “twitchy”, and whatever other random weird mental things affect me. 😡 I’m obviously going to have setbacks, where I kinda just retreat into my shell (like today), but considering that just a few months ago I wasn’t talking to hardly any of my friends, wasn’t really visiting with Mom and Dad, had no desire to do pretty much anything… where I’m at right now is objectively better, even though a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way to me.

But I’ve been back on email with Dad for a couple months now, after essentially abandoning email as a whole over a year ago… and I know, it sounds weird, and it’s even harder to explain how “anxiety” and “email” can go together… but yeah, more emails, more visits, reaching out to friends – slowly, one at a time… I’m doing so much more than I was able to or wanted to do just a handful of months ago.

I don’t necessarily like admitting how messed up my brain can be, but what can I do? It’s me. 😐 So I think it’s fair to look at my slow but steady progress on these dumb, sometimes inexplicable anxiety issues and feel at least a bit better about it. I know I don’t function like a “normal” human, not by any stretch of the definition… and I know that my occasional communication drop-outs or disappearances by me are still frustrating and hard for friends and family to understand – but they pretty much “get me” now, at least as best as I can be “gotten” I suppose.

Hmm… this counts as posting something positive, right? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ (Even though today is fucked. 😏)

The Misc Stuff

Okay, so I’m not totally doing nothing with my day today. Along with a little bit of this and that, here and there, I also just talked with the guy who runs the landscaping company responsible for mowing my lawn every week and a half. He said he’s gonna send a couple of his d00ds over tomorrow to work on a bunch of the miscellaneous stuff outside that needs someone’s attention.

Shortly after the hedge trimmers completed their job, I grabbed a notepad and jotted down a short list of things that I was hoping Jason’s crew could handle next, and told him he could just hit it whenever he had a gap in the schedule. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸŒΎπŸ“…πŸŒ²πŸŒ³πŸšœ Along with manpower, I hope they’ll also be coming with an empty trailer big enough to haul stuff away – because that’s one of the first things on the list. 🀨 Hauling away the huge mound of clippings out front, the remnants of the shed out back, and then several boards and posts – many of which came from the fence that used to be out front.

The other thing that I’m anxious to see completed is the clearing out of the “extra” plant life that’s growing inside the pine tree out front. 😳 Like leafy parasites, there’s at least one fairly grown sapling poking its head out (likely from the neighbor’s nearby tree) and then a growth of vines that is trying to make its way up the pine tree’s branches as well. 😯 I hope, for the lawn d00ds’ sake, that it isn’t poison ivy… but I suppose they know how to handle that shit without getting covered in it.

I think I might have had three or four more things on that list… πŸ€” but I’ll be here when they show up tomorrow, so I’ll just have the security cameras set up to squawk at me when company arrives – then I can just go out and meet up with them and run through the list to see what all will be doable on that day. I’m glad he got in touch though… I almost forgot that I gave him that list, but now it’ll be nice to see “stuff getting done” tomorrow, even if I’m not that one that’s actually doing it. πŸ™„πŸ˜

The Future Is Now

It’s been a long time coming, but all of the public service agencies in my area have finally switched out their radios, and are now using digital transmitting/receiving rather than the old analog systems that had been in place and unchanged ever since I was a teenager. πŸ‘΄πŸ» So the old police scanners that nearly everyone in Lancaster has… they’re essentially worthless now, at least when it comes to monitoring all of the action in town.

I’m not sure if it was a financial or transparency-based decision, but while they’ve upgraded to a fully digital system, they’ve decided against using encryption. The easiest thing to compare it to is the way that television broadcasts have changed over the past 10 or 20 years. No more analog signals, but if you have a digital cable box or digital tuner you can easily pick up the new transmissions. It’s the same thing with the public service radios… it’s just a different means of broadcasting. πŸ€“ If they went with encrypted systems though, it would be similar to how wireless phones use digital signals, but they’re also encrypted so that nobody but the caller and recipient are able to hear what’s being said. 🀨

The bad news? While you used to be able to buy a $40 scanner to listen to police, fire, and rescue… digital scanners are significantly more expensive. So much so that many people can’t or won’t want to make the upgrade to continue following the activity. πŸ™ And, at least here in Lancaster, an always-running police scanner has been about as common in homes as a stove, fridge, or washing machine. 😏

I had actually been considering getting a new scanner myself, going so far as to have “shopped them out” online so that I knew what I would get if the cost didn’t make me cringe so hard… and while I made the decision then that it was too expensive, hitting that little jackpot at Hollywood the other day has changed my tune. πŸ€— Oh, I still cringed when I loaded up the page of the one I wanted, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

The Homepatrol-1 units are basically “Digital Scanners for Dummies.” Where most other next-gen scanners are more computer than radio (with endless programming options and tweaks accordingly) the Homepatrol-1 is more about an easy listening/monitoring experience. It has built-in memory with a database that covers the entire United States, and it is updated weekly by the manufacturer – based off of frequency information provided by the users and staff at RadioReference.com

So, with the way our local departments are still going through changes, as the current frequency information is discovered and updated on the site – all I’ll have to do (in theory) is punch up my zip code in the scanner… and all of the agencies and radio options will automagically appear before my eyes. πŸ˜€ So, along with it being one of the cheaper scanners,Β that’sΒ what actually sold me on it. The ability to start using it as soon as I get it, without having to spend hours figuring it out and programming it. It does have many advanced options though, especially through the included Sentinel software that is used for easier/quicker programming… so yeah, it’ll still be something to challenge my nerd brain as well.

I’m sure it probably seems like a frivolous purchase to a lot of people… but living by myself, outside of the city limits, away from the humans… having a scanner running gives me the sense of “staying connected” with a community that I still consider to be home, even if I’m not in the heart of it. (Plus there’s all kinds of other stuff to search for and listen to on top of that…)

Surveying

Almost screwed up today. Well, maybe I did screw up a little. Opened the garage door to take some boxes and trash out to the buggy, then decided to sit outside for a couple of minutes since it was sunny and almost warm. But then I decided to take a walk to around the back of the house to check out the condition of things. See, I had someone mowing my grass all last summer, and I honestly never even really looked out back. I can see the bushes at the back through the various windows, but it is really only in passing.

First thing I noticed was that one of the flower tree things had died and rotted during the winter. 😐 I was actually able to easily break off many of the limbs and also push over most of the base of it that was still in the ground. It’s not completely gone yet, but it was nice to do something that noticeable without pushing my limits. And the hedges at the back that I mentioned… they’re overgrown and have other sorts of trees growing up in random spots within them, so I won’t be able to put them off for another season.

The other big-ish things that will have to be dealt with are all of the evergreen bushes that surround the house, and the strangely large tree that has grown up inside of the huge pine tree out front. 😳 The bushes in the rear and on the north side are probably small enough that I will (or would) be able to take care of them, but the others are way beyond my ability. And thankfully they did a good job weed whacking the flower gardens (and just mowing over the stuff that I told them to mow over) so they don’t look that bad.

So here’s where I’m at. I know there are quite a few things that I’d be able to do, but I would really only be able to do small bits at a time, over a span of several days for each of the things… so is that really worth it? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Cringing each day as I go out to do the small amount of work that I can do before it fucks my shoulders and neck, and hoping that I never bump up against that point. 😬 Doesn’t sound like an awesome way to spend my spring, and it risks stealing a bunch of days that might otherwise be days that I’d feel like leaving the house. So I guess I’ve made my decision. 😟

As much as I hate spending money when I feel like I don’t absolutely have to, this is a situation where the right call is to just hire some d00ds to do it. Why should I spend (likely) several days trimming the smaller bushes, when a full time landscaper type person will probably come and bust through all of them in a couple of hours – whether I’ve trimmed anything or not. πŸ˜’ There are a couple more examples of that same scenario but with different stuff in the yard, so I just have to suck it up and accept that I can’t do it and get someone who can. That’s a hard thing to admit. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

The one thing that has saved me from getting too twitchy about this today is the thought that even if I have someone come in and do everything that needs to be done… the amount I’m gonna have to pay is still gonna be less than one month’s rent in a decent apartment. And then, other than mowing, none of it will really need to be done again until the same time next year – or even longer if I have someone chop the bushes on the property line down to nubs. 🀨 So I’m gonna make a list of what I need to have done and what I’d like to have done, and then probably call my uncle after the weekend to talk to him about it and see if he has any d00ds that he can recommend.

Not being in constant miserable pain > swallowing my pride / being a tightwad

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was rough. 😐 I woke up and hit the road shortly after dawn, because I wanted to allow myself plenty of time to compete with rush hour traffic heading towards Columbus. I just wanted to get up there early enough so that I could spend a while with Cassi and Lily before we had to head to the vet’s office. 😞 Once we were there, I couldn’t make myself stay in the room when the time came – but thankfully Cassi was strong enough to stay in there with Lily through all of it. As I sat out in the car waiting for her, I found what I felt was the best way to think about it…

Cassi loves Lily and didn’t want her to go, obviously, but she knew that for Lily’s sake – that’s what needed to happen. And Lily… I like to think that Lily didn’t want to go, but only because she didn’t want her adoptive mommy (and the other kitties in the house) to be sad and miss her. 😒 But Lily herself, I’m sure that if she would have been able to say it, she’d have said that it was time to go.Β  Thinking about it in human terms… as all of us approach our final years, there’s a pretty good chance that we ourselves will go through days, weeks, or maybe even months where we’d probably like to ask God to go ahead take us – due to the discomfort that often comes with that old age. πŸ‘΄πŸ»πŸ˜Ÿ

We were sniffling and sobbing all the way back to the apartment, and she was telling me even more little stories about Lily and some of the other cats that I hadn’t heard before… kind of a rolling “wake” of good kitty memories. πŸ™‚πŸ˜Έ Of course I couldn’t help but start thinking about Maven’s age, wondering how I’m going to be able to face it once that day comes for her… but luckily I’ve got both Cassi and Genesee who said they’re willing (and want) to be there. I wish I could have made myself stay in the room for Cassi, but she understood – and actually said that she never expected me to. 🀨 She basically said it in a way to let me know that she stayed in the room not only for Lily, but also so that I didn’t have to.

Then and Now

I’m gonna make an effort to feel Christmas this year. Without going into details, the past several years have thrown a lot of stuff at me, Mom, Dad… hell, most folks in the family, as well as many of my friends. It just seems like the past several years have gone out of their way to shit all over everyone. πŸ˜• Whether it’s on Facebook or from what I see and hear during the rare personal appearances that I make with friends and family – life just has this gloomy film all over it, that even the best “fake happy” can’t camouflage.

I’m glad that most folks are better able to get through the gloomy times than I am. I mean, I’m glad for them… heh… that they aren’t like me. 😏 But some of my friends and acquaintances… some of them I really worry about. I’ve watched as a couple friends have essentially become alcoholics, a couple others who frantically cling to awful relationship partners, and some who have just stopped trying over the past couple of years. πŸ™ Facebook is great for introverts like me, who don’t regularly “hang out” or whatever, but it sure gives you a window into people’s lives that even they might not realize they’re giving. (Yeah, I know… “… says the guy with the endlessly rambling personal blog.”)

Anyway, my point is that the more “bleh” a person is exposed to, the more difficult it is to be resistant to it. (Obviously)Β I don’t want to completely miss Christmas again this year though, so once I get my medication situation taken care of I’m gonna focus my efforts on that. I don’t think I even put up any decorations last year… I’m not even sure I still have a tree, as strange as that sounds.

It helps that recently I was going through some old family boxes and found a bunch of Christmas decorations and stuff from when I was little. Each significant ornament or decoration has some sort of good memory attached to it, and I need to keep reminding myself that just because things are “how they are” now – I can’t let that stop me from thinking back to all of the better times. Just because me and a lot of other people have countless reasons to feel miserable, it doesn’t mean that we can’t allow ourselves to feel good about the things that are worth feeling good about. πŸ€”πŸ™‚

Granted, this is something that non-screwed-up people already know and do… but right now it just doesn’t come naturally to me, hence the constant reminders to myself. 😏 I’m sure that in the 19 days between my birthday and Christmas there will be plenty of things that will challenge my efforts, so I just hope that they’ll be mild.

I want this Christmas to feel like Christmas.