I Ain’t As Good As I Once Was…

This has been on my mind, so I’mma ramble. πŸ™‚ If we’re able to come to a settlement agreement regarding the medical portion of my claim, I wonder if I’ll be able to eventually undo all of the damage that’s been done. πŸ€”πŸ˜Ÿ Not the physical stuff, of course, since that’ll slowly continue to get worse over the years… but the way the whole process has mentally changed me, especially over the past several years. 😞

It’s just that I’m guaranteed that one week out of every month will be filled with anxiety and stress, simply because I have to get my medications filled. 😐 The meds are required to be covered by my claim, and many years ago I could pick them up without issue – even being able to get them a few days early at times. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Then the problems started. πŸ˜’ Short delays turned into long delays, and long delays became even longer. Eventually the delays were so long that I’d have to pay out-of-pocket just so I didn’t go without, and then wait and hope that I’d get paid back. πŸ˜• If my doctor prescribes a new medication, it can be denied pending an IC hearing. Even when a prescription doesn’t change they can still sometimes deny coverage pending an IC hearing to prove that it’s still necessary. (Which, after a decade, it obviously will be.)

Three weeks of “tolerable” pain at best, followed by a week of worrying, fussing, and fighting just to get the meds that they’re legally required to provide. 😠 Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat… πŸ™„πŸ˜ž Combine that stress with fluctuating pain and lack of ability, and eventually it consumed so much of my thoughts and time that I started backing away from everything else.

(Don’t mind my rambling… like I said, this blog sometimes acts as my therapy…)

When I can’t guess how I’ll physically feel, and I can’t even count on having (or being able to get) my meds to help… things became too unpredictable to continue like I had been. πŸ™ A couple of years ago I had a long phase where I couldn’t do anything if it meant someone “counting on me” for something. Family started getting shut out, friends definitely got shut out, all because I never knew how I’d feel when I woke up that day nor if I’d be facing (or getting pulled into) another hearing or lengthy process with the pharmacy.

That hasn’t changed. 😐 The concern and worry, that is. πŸ˜’ Along with my family and friends’ understanding, I’ve been able to make some adjustments that has kept me from totally isolating myself these days… but lemme tell ya, sometimes it feels easier to just remove myself from people’s lives than to disappoint them over and over again when things are bad. πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜ž And that leads me back to my original question… how long does it take for a person to escape that mindset, if that 1/4 of each month no longer has that anxiety and stress from the fight? 😐

The stress now, for better or worse, is making sure the settlement (whether an annuity or lump sum) is truly enough to cover the things that it will need to cover. If not, I’ll just be trading the stress of fighting for meds each month for the stress of not being able to take the same meds, because I won’t have the funds to pay for them. πŸ˜’ Medicare is technically supposed to step in at that point, but they’ll require all kinds of proof that I spent the settlement money only on applicable things, and the more expensive meds still might not be covered. πŸ˜– So as you can see, there truly is “always something.”

Kinda makes all the “You’re so lucky that you don’t have to work anymore!” folks reconsider, eh? 😏

Predictably Unpredictable

Had one of those fortunate times where my workers comp doctor appointment coincided with my neck acting up. Obviously “fortunate” is a relative term… but I think it’s important that the doctor sometimes see me at the worst of my worst times, since at many of my appointments I’m “okay.”

The spasms started yesterday, after carrying a big bag of cat food in from the garage. It used to be that I could still use my right arm to carry about any amount of “dead weight” … where I don’t really do any lifting but just let whatever-it-is hang there at the end of my arm. I guess I’ve got to be more careful about even that now.

It makes sense that something heavy, carried with my right arm, could still pull across the muscles and tendons of my neck and therefore irritate the damaged area… I’m just not stoked about the potential of losing even more ability than I already have. 😟 I’m also not stoked that sometimes just the act of sitting down a little too hard triggers a nerve spike that radiates out over both of my shoulders. 😣 I know I’ve got a big head, but just that little bit of “extra” downward force on my neck… it’s scary that that’s enough to sometimes cause an unpleasant jolt.

But my visit with the doctor was productive. It’s great that after more than a decade (with a basically stable, yet slowly deteriorating condition) he’s still more than happy to give me as much time as I need at an appointment, and this was one that took a little longer as we discussed everything. And while I’m not a fan of the process, we both agreed that it’s probably time for another MRI to see what’s going on in there. 😳 Now, whether workers comp will approve it, that’s another matter.

This was one of those “C’mon, there has to be a way to make it where I don’t hurt like this.” visits, which are probably as frustrating for him as they are for me. 😐 It’s just that there’s only a limited amount of reasonable things we can try, and I’ve already done treatments like cervical spine injections – which only provided limited relief, both in the amount the pain was reduced and for how long. πŸ˜’ And with the risks involved in that method, I’m not sure that it’s worth it when adjusting my meds could prove to work better.

Meh… I’m so tired of medical stuff. 😞 But I’ll wait to see if the MRI is approved, I’m also waiting for a call back about some other things, and then we’ll just go from there. Like I told him today, I’m still too young to just accept that this is how I have to feel, and I haven’t battled with workers comp for this long just to feel “bad, but not really bad” most of the time. πŸ˜’ If there are still things that could help me, they need to remain open as options – otherwise what’s the point? Thankfully, he still seems to agree.

Terminate Background Process?

I feel almost silly for realizing this only just now, but I’ve figured out why my sleep got screwed up… why I have been feeling a little off. With as “aware” as I am regarding my struggles with anxiety, you’d think that any new potential issues would be immediately apparent. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Nope. 🀨 For whatever reason, I typically don’t recognize an inciting moment until it’s already had enough time to have an effect. Like walking out of your house into a rain storm and then wondering an hour later why you’re soaked.

Not wanting to bury the lede any further, I’m pretty sure that ordering concert tickets the other day was what put me a bit out of whack. So you can maybe see why I wouldn’t have suspected that as the cause. Since, on its face, that concert is something that I obviously think will be fun, something that I want to do, something that I’m choosing to do. πŸ™‚ So the anticipation of waiting to see if I’d even be able to get tickets, and then managing to get really decent seats – all of the “Yay! πŸ˜ƒ of that masked the subconscious concerns that I always have when it comes to attending a concert these days.

I’ll make a separate post about the show, but yeah… when just this past year I skipped a Skillet concert that was less than 30 miles away because it was a general admission show, and I didn’t want to risk how beat up I’d feel afterwards – committing to a much, much bigger concert, and one that will require hours of travel time just to get there, it’s kind of a big deal for me. 😳πŸ₯΄

So, without me even realizing it, I think my brain was running a background process that was contemplating all of the various issues that could pop up. πŸ§ β€ΌοΈ The main concern, obviously, is how I’m going to physically feel… before, during, and after. The long drive, the masses of people, trying not to “bop around” too much during the show… 😏 and then the long drive back home, which will likely feel even longer than the drive there. When I can’t predict how broken I’m going to feel on a day to day basis here at home… it’s just giving quite a bit up to faith that it’ll all work out okay. 😟

Now, despite all that I’ve typed here… I’m not sweating it as much as it probably sounds. 😏 I’m still excited about it, still glad that I have something to look forward to, and planning it all out will even be fun. Figuring out the best travel routes, of course staying over the night before and the night after, checking everything out on Google Earth, and then the concert itself… I really am looking forward to it. I’d say I’m like 90% “Yay! πŸ˜ƒ and only 10% “Ugh… this could be a nightmare 😳

More details soon… πŸ’πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸŽŸοΈπŸ’πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸŽŸοΈ Β  πŸŽ΅Β πŸŽ€πŸ§πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ§‘πŸ»β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘πŸ»πŸ‘¬πŸ»πŸ§‘πŸ»β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘πŸ»πŸ‡°πŸ‡· 🎡

Addendum

Speaking of going to a different school in junior high… I’m not sure why this popped into my head, as it’s something I haven’t thought of for decades probably, but all the talk about vintage computers apparently sparked another hidden memory.

While the school in general did have several C64 computers, mostly in the library, I was also part of a small selection of students that were chosen for what they called “Computer Lab” … a small room full of Apple II computers. πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I just remember how awful they seemed compared to the Commodore computers… with The Oregon Trail running on both for comparison. πŸ˜… No contest.

Their computer lab with all the Apple computers also served as a room for a typing class later in the afternoon, but I knew that after we left the room was empty – and only the teacher would be in there doing whatever it was that she did with her free time. 😏 Everyone else in the class had basically zero computer experience, although they were the smarter kids in my grade. πŸ€“ Me, at least I had poked around on my own VIC-20 at home, and then the C64s in the library… so… I had learned a little bit of BASIC. 😎

I actually helped some of the other kids in the class at times, so it wasn’t odd that I’d be away from my own computer and messing with someone else’s, and that made me realize that I could pull off a pretty good prank. For a nerd, anyway… πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I mean, we were learning to code, so…

You could turn off the monitors while leaving the actual computers on, so… and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact details about this… but somehow I was able to go around to each Apple II in the room and quickly type in a program. There were probably only a dozen computers, and they were situated against three walls of this small square room, just so you can mentally picture it…

But I was able to bang out this little BASIC program on each of the computers right before class ended, as we were all finishing up and supposed to be getting ready to go to our next class. Apple computers only had an annoying beep generator in them, but that was perfect for my prank. 🀑 I think it wasn’t even more than four lines… telling the computer to wait a certain amount of time, ten minutes in this case, and then start rapidly beeping until someone stopped the program. 😁

(I mean, this is a demo created in 2015 and listen how bad even it is… heh)

It’s so weird though… because I’m sure that it worked… which meant that ten minutes after we left, one computer would start beeping – and then in about 10 seconds the next one, and the one after that in ten more seconds… until all of the computers were either beeping all at once or the teacher would be tracking around the room, killing the programs as they started. πŸ˜‹ But it’s strange because the next day – even though I anticipated getting in some kind of trouble – the teacher didn’t even mention it, didn’t change anything about what we did… it was just strange. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Well played, teacher… 😏 pretend like I didn’t just school you with my junior high BASIC programming knowledge and I’ll pretend like I didn’t do it. πŸ˜„ Hell, maybe she was impressed. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I’m pretty sure she knew who did it though… none of those other shlubs had any idea of what they were doing yet. 😁

Move/Buy/Sell/Apartment/Hotel

In the relatively small circle of folks that I talk to (along with those who I might not talk to, but still kinda know their business) there’s been a lot of thinking about, talking about, or actual “moving” going on. One cousin already moved from where he was, aunt and uncle are selling their original house now that they’ve moved into their “retirement” house, and then me and a couple other cousins are feeling just restless enough with our own situations that the thought of moving does pop up now and then. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ Oh, and I almost forgot yet another cousin and her hubby who recently purchased their first place together on the edge of town.

Then there are other folks who are considering or planning to move, even though it might not have been in their original plans. Whether job situations change, family situations change, relationship situations change, or the neighborhood itself changes enough where folks just want out… yeah, it’s become a common topic among a whole bunch of us. 😟 Even a couple friends in NJ have been taking a “serious, but not that serious yet” look at other potential homes around their area. It’s like a seed has been planted in all of our brains. πŸ˜‹

I’m not gonna get into “all that” much more right now, other than expanding on the reason why I started this entry in the first place. πŸ™„πŸ˜ Now, this is something that I’ve heard of happening in bigger cities, but I wouldn’t have thought that my relatively small town would have been affected by it already. 🀨 But investors will swoop in and buy up all the “cool” apartment properties, do a little bit of renovating, and then rather than living in them or renting them out in a traditional manner – they use those properties as short term, almost “vacation-like” quasi-hotel type rentals. 😠

In particular I can see that this has happened to many of the downtown apartments that used to be available above businesses, retail, restaurants, etc. A few years ago you would see a couple of them become available every few months, but now the majority of what I see are listings by folks who rent them by the week, weekend, or even sometimes by the night. πŸ˜•Β And in a way, you can’t blame them. Why rent a place out for $900 a month when you could average $100 a night by renting it out as an AirBNB or similar-type destination for well-off folks who only come to town for a few nights? πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’ΌπŸ“ˆπŸ€‘

It’s exactly what already-expensive rental markets in bigger cities are experiencing. Locals, who actually want a home, who want to rent via traditional terms, are priced out of the market by the influx of investors who buy up apartments for higher priced, short term rentals. 😯 I guess in some cities on the west coast, more than 50% of the apartment market has been gobbled up in that way – and the only thing that might be able to stop the practice is if local ordinances are put in place to prevent it. πŸ€” But, to me, short-term renters would probably sound appealing to a city council, since that type of traffic would also be the type that would be spending money while they’re staying in their nifty vintage loft, or at least more so than a regular monthly tenant probably would be.

But yeah, all of this rambling just comes from one evening of quickly browsing through a few different apartment search type sites – so I may be assuming too much without having done enough research. 😏 But after that hour or so of browsing, when the net result is “Well… that seems like some bullshit.” πŸ˜… it only makes sense that it would also end up here in the blog, eh?

Thursday Mission

Woke up stupid early yesterday so I could help out a friend. She’s been in an ongoing custody “disagreement” with her former SO for quite a while now, where they’ve each been representing themselves in court due to how expensive an attorney can be. 😟 And without having a lawyer on her side, while things have been going in her favor, it’s just happening so slowly. With another hearing coming up in about a month and a half, she knew she had to start doing something differently, so I looked up a few places that claim to offer pro bono representation for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

She’s got an aversion to talking on the phone, just like me, but on Wednesday I encouraged her to start making some calls… and by that afternoon she had spoken with someone at SEOLSΒ who seemed open to the idea of taking her case, or at least hearing her out and looking at all of the information to figure out the best way for her to proceed. πŸ™‚ So that evening I printed out all of her case information to date, a ton of things meant to show that she’s the “more ideal” parent, and got it all sorted and organized in a way that would make it easy for an attorney to look through. πŸ€“πŸ“’

So then yesterday morning I picked her up to take her to the closest SEOLS office serving Fairfield County, which is unfortunately way down in Chillicothe. πŸ˜’ I left the house around 9:30a, and by time I got back home it was after 3p. That’s a long friggin’ time (for me) to be out and about, working on a stressful project… even though, obviously, she’s the one bearing the most amount of that stress. I just really want things to go well for her, and being familiar with the frustration of facing hearings with unknown outcomes, the empath in me kicked in and I couldn’t help but feel many of the things she was feeling. πŸ˜•

I didn’t go in with her when she actually met with the attorney, but she said things seemed to go well and that it felt more positive than negative. He made copies of all of the information that he needed and said that he wanted to talk to some folks who specialize more in custody cases on Monday… so while things sounds good, she’s still gotta wait a few more days before she’ll know for sure if they will provide someone to represent her. It was worth the trip regardless, because at the very least they’ll be able to hold her hand through what she should do next, even if they end up not being able to actually be with her on the day of her hearing. I’m gonna stay hopeful though, because having an attorney could make all the difference.

But I was wiped out by time I got home. πŸ˜₯ I’ve done very little “out of the house all day” stuff lately, and especially for something that’s as “high stakes” as this. And of course helping her with her legal stuff kept my legal stuff in the back of my mind… the upcoming WC stuff, that is… and starting off the day so early, with my shoulder already bugging me, all of the time in the car didn’t help. 😣 But it was a small sacrifice to help her with something that could end up being a game-changer in the long run, and I knew that I’d have all day today to recover if I needed to.

Well, my body didn’t wanna wait until today. 😏 Shortly after getting home I knew I wanted to take a short nap, but also not screw up my sleep schedule. But my nap lasted until the evening, and when I did wake up I went ahead and took my evening meds and thankfully ended up falling back to sleep – not waking again until a little after 6a today. πŸ˜―πŸ˜ƒ So I’m just now starting to catch up from messages from all day yesterday, but I’m gonna wait a while to reply so I’m not waking people up as early as it is.

I’ve still got a friend or two that gets concerned if I don’t reply in an undefined amount of time. That’s thoughtful of them, but boy I wish that folks in general would consider that even the most nerdy of humans don’t necessarily get online every day, or multiple times a day… and that sometimes whatever is going on during a particular day might cause messages to be ignored until the next. πŸ˜•πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Yesterday’s situation was based on necessity, but I still do wanna try to take “days off” from the digital world every now and then… a luxury that younger people these days probably don’t really have. Imagine taking a teenager from today and transplanting them to 1985, during summer break from school, living out in the country, with only a landline telephone as means of keeping in touch with friends. πŸ˜…

Heh… another “old fart” thing to add to the growing library of “old fart things” in my head. πŸ™„πŸ‘΄πŸ»