Lucky Me

There are a few blogs I read all the time.  They range from the silly to the stupid, the ridiculous to the sweet.

And then there’s Dr. Grumpy.

He claims to be either a neurologist or a Yak herder.  Some days, I can’t tell which is true.

Other days, he rants about hilarious patients, formidable hospital administrations, stupid insurance companies, and his teenage children.

Mostly, he seems slightly out of touch with the Average Joe.

Which leads me to believe he really is a Yak herder, and lives in Nepal.  Or a neurologist with little comprehension of what people not making six-figure incomes have to deal with when it comes to health care.

Honestly, I can’t tell.

In general, though, I like him.  Not that it matters to the doc, but there it is.

The comments on his blog are often enlightening, too.

Other doctors, PAs, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals chime in and it’s those people I take issue with the most.

I have lamented, ad nauseum, about the “invisible diseases”, the pain-centered illnesses like fibromyalgia, CFS, arachnoiditis, and CRPS and the treatment sufferers get at the hands of callous health care people.

I get that one can become jaded at the constant barrage of people looking for the pharmacological quick fix.  I. Get. That.

What I don’t get is how a doctor, or any other healthcare professional, can look me in the eye and dare to tell me I’m not sick, I’m not hurting, I’m making it all up.

Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Grumpy never goes there.  But his followers, the ones who comment, they do. Often.

I always try to point out their ignorance, and am sometimes met with hostility.  Sometimes with disdain, and sometimes with arrogance.

I’m rarely treated with compassion.

And that’s what’s wrong.  We, the people suffering from the silent illnesses, we deserve the same compassion as the cancer patient, the anxiety patient, hell the “every” patient.

I’ve given up trying to get that compassion from the cold, hard, world-at-large.  I’m very lucky my pain doctor is understanding, and that my pharmacist is someone I’ve known for over 20 years.  I rarely, if ever, have to deal with the sideways glances and raised eyebrows at my monthly ‘scripts that keep me upright, productive, mobile and happy.

I’m one of the lucky ones, and that too, is so wrong.

 

Time to Get Real

Just yesterday, a single sentence from a Facebook friend led me to ponder something I take for granted.

I am a chronic pain patient, most doctors’ worst nightmare, and I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.

Among the litany of ailments, which I won’t list here, I have fibromyalgia.

I can see the virtual eye rolls from those who think that fibro is a “garbage can” diagnosis meant to shut up the patient who presents with debilitating pain, exhaustion, and memory issues.  And, it was just that.  Until some dedicated scientists and doctors began to really study the disease.

Now, it’s an accepted disease and the criteria for diagnosis has been narrowed and focused to the things that nearly all fibromyalgia sufferers share.

All of this has little to do with this post, but I use the first few paragraphs to set the stage for the real reason I’m writing.

It’s the shame, the guilt, the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that so many chronic pain patients experience.

We feel it every time we have to explain to a doctor that yes, we hurt, and yes, we understand your lab work doesn’t give any indication why.

We feel it every time we encounter a pharmacist, skeptical as to why we need yet another month’s supply of an opioid medication.

We feel it every time a family member or friend – always well-meaning, of course – tells us about the latest breakthrough in treating chronic pain with home remedies like beet enemas and anecdotal evidence that it worked for someone’s brother’s wife’s mother.

Or worse, when friends and family tell us we just need to get up and do more…everything. Walk, exercise, go vegan, deny gluten, and drink lots of water.  I mean, if we did all that we’d be fine, right?

We look normal.

We (usually) act normal.

We desperately want to be normal.

We don’t want to wake up every morning more tired than when we went to bed.

We don’t want to hurt from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes.

We don’t want to feel like we’re slogging through molasses that gets thicker as the day wears on.

And so many of us don’t want to have to rely on a pill to get us through the next day, the next few hours, until we can take another to dampen the pain to the point of making it possible to function for a while.

Mental health gets a bright spotlight, and almost everyone is understanding and caring. Take a pill to elevate your mood, or keep you from going all stabbity?  That’s considered a good thing.

Chronic pain patients don’t always get that same TLC.

And we need it.

What we don’t need is to be called “addict” or “drug seeker” because we rely on chemicals to get through the day.

 

 

Because…

….there’s never, ever, not ever, not for one minute…a dull moment in my life……..

Christmas went well.  It was a hunnert degrees outside, and Santa looked like he would melt inside his suit when he visited the gaggle of screaming grandchildren gathered to meet him on Christmas Eve.

Months of preparation and the entire gift-opening extravaganza was over in 12.4 minutes.

The adults at my house engage in a White Elephant gift exchange.  The concept, for those who don’t know, is to gather gawd-awful items you already have, wrap them prettily, and then every person gets a number and we pick packages based on if we’re first, second, and so on.  After the first pick, the next person can either ‘steal’ a person’s gift or get a new one from the stack.  And so it goes.

The idea is to give someone you love a hideous/disgusting gift.  It’s a Christmas Spirit thing.

Of course, there’s always that one relative who doesn’t get it.  That person invariably brings a truly magnificent gift.   This year, it was a giant bag filled with gorgeous household knick-knacks, wall hangers, and so on.  It was the FIRST gift picked, so you just knew the receiver wasn’t going to hang onto it.

Except the receiver, my youngest son, literally guarded his loot and threatened anyone who came near.  He looked like a dog guarding the food bowl as he’d place his body between the would-be thief and the bag…growling and giving the thief the stink-eye.

The kid’s got game when it comes to intimidating looks.

I thought we were going to have a brawl a time or two as shouts of “cheater!” and “That’s not how this game is played!” fell on son’s deaf ears.

For my part, I’ve got so many knick-knacks and crapola around already I’m thinking of changing my name to Pier One Kirkland’s (got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), so I didn’t want a giant bag with more dust collectors.

In the end, son got to keep his big bag and I got a coloring book and crayons..perfect..no, really, perfect for when the grandkids come over.

I think we need to explain the White Elephant rules one. more. time.

Christmas Day is usually quiet and laid back at our house. I won’t get out of my jammies all day, unless we have company for dinner – which we did this year.  It was still quiet, as all the grandkids were occupied with their new stuff.

The very next day I came down with the latest version of norovirus.  This was the day we were supposed to start taking everything down because the day after that we were going to visit my mother some 700 miles away. Instead, I spent a day and a half praying to the porcelain gods and wishing I could sleep until it all passed. I mean, really…you get the pukes and a raging fever with body aches all at once.  Seriously?  ONE is bad enough, why oh why do we have to get both?  Then, I spent the next four days (three of which were at my mother’s house) with a come-and-go fever, cold sweats, and zero appetite. Good times.

But, it doesn’t end there…as we were preparing to leave on our long road trip (a day and a half behind schedule) – and let me tell you just how excited I was for that, having been so sick so recently – when my sister’s frantic calls and texts began.  Her husband was admitted to ICU with sepsis.  How he went from a healthy, cutthroat, corporate attorney to death’s door can be attributed to the medical profession.  He had a biopsy, it got infected, then it really pissed his body off and he wound up in the hospital for a solid week.  He’s home now, with a PICC line for antibiotics.  Out of the woods, be definitely still on the mend.

And that was just last week…hell, part of last week.  The rest, though, was anti-climactic after all that led up to it.

I even rang in 2016 asleep, on the couch at mom’s, for the first time since I was a child.

It was a hint for this year.  Keep it quiet, dude. I need my rest.

Merry Hallowthankmas!

It’s that time of year, when bloggers post either sappy, sentiment-filled thank yous and I love yous to all their devoted readers.

But, that just wouldn’t be me.

So, keep the merry in your Christmas,

The happy in your New Year,

And most of all, keep your nuts away from the fire.

Have a good one, see you next year.

Phrase Dujour

There’s this thing, called the Internet, that is truly one of nature’s most amazing black holes ever.

I mean, one minute you’re asking Aunty Google about where to find the best gingerbread cookie recipe, and the next thing you know you’re reading about famous gingers in movies – my personal favorite being Maureen O’Hara.

Hours can go by and before you know it, it’s time to go home and you won’t even be in the running for Most Productive Employee this week/month/year.

Oh well, might as well console yourself with trolling comments on hilarious Amazon products – like uranium and unicorn in a can (go look, and don’t say you haven’t been warned) – or watching BuzzFeed videos and then accidentally coming up with:

“The Most Awesomesauce Phrase of The Day” in the comments.

Today’s phrase  was about makeup application, and one commenter was lamenting the cost of makeup and how if she put it on she wanted it to be seen, dammit…so she said:

“…put that shit on like you’ve been slapped n the face with a PopTart ladies…”

…………..aaaaaaaaaaand scene

 

When You Least Expect It

I was having a grumpy day.  I was hurting, I was tired, blah, blah…

And, I had to go to the post office as the last errand of my busy work day.

I got there and noticed people walking up to the door and stopping.  After a few seconds most of them turned around to leave. When I got close enough I saw why.  The big sign proclaimed the credit card system was down, and only cash was accepted.

Who carries cash anymore? Not me..that’s who.

Grumbling, I went back to the car and asked Auntie GoogleMaps where the next nearest post office was.   I found it and set off, at least happy that I was heading in the direction of home.

I got to the next post office, and apparently ALL THE PEOPLE who’d left that last place had gone there.  The line was out the door.

Now, I was really starting to get annoyed.

Fine, I thought, I’ll just go to the post office near my house.  This post office is right out of the 1940’s.  They staff is very small, usually very sour, and very slow, and on any given day there’s an incredibly long line.  At least it was close to home…so, there’s that.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the post office to see only two people in front of me.

Imagine my further surprise to hear a man’s voice.

Singing.

He was singing Christmas carols.

He was very good, too.

Looking at the line of folks, I thought for sure it was one of them.

I also briefly wondered if I’d forgotten to take my headphones off, and was the singing coming from them.  Yes, I do stuff like that. All. The. Time.

Nope, it was one of the clerks behind the counter.  He was young-ish (but then, face it, I’m old and the young-ish are getting younger-ish every day) and had full-sleeve tattoos, large rings in his earlobes, and a shaved head.  He was delightfully full of sparkle.

When it was my turn he greeted me enthusiastically, asked about my day as though he really cared, and proceeded to serenade us all as he completed my transaction.

I left there with a big smile on my face, and a decidedly springier step.

I’d been so annoyed at having to search for a simple post office, and the quest had led me to a very sweet place.

It just goes to show you, when you least expect it……..

 

 

Just An Ordinary Day

I didn’t hear the coffeemaker’s distinct ‘beep – beep – beep’ this morning as I rose from my warm bed to a cold house at 3:30 a.m.

You read that right, I get up every working morning at 3:30 a.m.

Why? Because I live in Texas, specifically the Dallas area, and everyone north of the Red River is migrating this way…right now.  This means our roads are about twenty years behind the growth.  So, in order to actually get to work in the morning I have to leave my house at the same time most farmers are milking their cows, or whatever it is that farmers do before sunup.

But, I digress.

The coffeemaker didn’t do it’s ONE JOB this morning.  It has ONE JOB, and it’s ONE JOB keeps me from killing people every day.

It just quit on me.  Today.  Just like that..I was dumped by a coffeemaker.  The lights were on, it was making all the appropriate noises, but the water wasn’t going from there to there to make the magic happen.

“Coffeemaker quit!” I shouted to hubby who came dashing into the kitchen and stared from me to the machine, mouth agape.  Obviously, this is not a scenario for which he was prepared.  Neither was I for that matter

“No coffee? NO COFFEE?” He said, growing alarmed and annoyed.

“Nope.” I replied, edgy myself. “I’ll get one on the way home.”

“You might ought to get two.” He grinned at me and for a moment it made sense, but then realizing they aren’t cheap I just shook my head at him, “Go get ready for work.” I said.

Grumbling, and groggy, I proceeded to get things ready for the lunches I pack for hubby and me every day.  Today’s lunch included pickles.  We eat a lot of dill pickles in my house.  They’re an excellent, low-calorie, snack so I buy the big jars.

I got the jar I’d purchased the day before out of the fridge and proceeded to open it.

I don’t know what happened, I blame it on the lack of caffeine, but the next thing I know I’ve got pickle juice all over me, the counter, and dripping onto the floor.

That shit stinks.  And it especially stinks when it’s all over the counters, floor, you.  Trust me on this, no need to verify.  You’re welcome.

I got that cleaned up, and then left for work,  WITHOUT MY COFFEE.

As I was driving I remembered my Starbucks gift card and thought there was a silver cloud to this lining after all.

I ordered my skinny vanilla latte at the drive-thru, and told the barista I had my own cup so I didn’t need a Satan Sipper  for my life-giving hot beverage.

She snickers.

I get my coffee, carefully maneuvering the 20 oz. mug through my open window without spilling a single drop.  Maybe wearing a white shirt wasn’t such a bad idea after all, I think as I pull away from the window, and forgetting about the ginormous holes in the road due to construction I hit one, and the coffee in my hand confirms two things – 1. It’s really, really, really hot and 2. I’m never wearing white again.

 

I Have a Confession

I’m addicted to the silly, sappy, soapy, and other words that start with “s”, holiday movies on Hallmark Channel.

Yesterday, I started watching them at 6:00 a.m., and didn’t stop until another of my guilty pleasures, “Once Upon a Time”, came on at 7:00 p.m.

I mean, I binge-watched.  I only got up, reluctantly, to pee and eat.

On the plus side, I am nearly finished with my stashbuster crochet afghan.

On the minus…thirteen hours?? Sweet clothespin jeebus.

I may have a problem.

In A Couple of Days It’ll Be Veteran’s Day Here

…and because I am TERRIBLE at remembering big things like that…

I present a post I wrote a few years ago, which includes a short story I wrote a few years before that.  I’d been part of a writer’s group and every week we got  prompts – a list of words we had to use in a short story.  There was a competition, and I won for this story.  It happens that WWII is  a passion of mine, and the military in general I hold in very high regard.

In honor of those who have gone before us.

It’s Me, Isn’t It?

I recently had cause to question the customer service skills of three separate companies in one week.

I think that’s a new personal best, but I’m not sure since I don’t normally keep track.

Anyway, the first was a pair of earrings I ordered from a site and it was not the only pair of earrings this site offered.  It was, in fact, a pair similar to a couple of others they offered…but waaaaay cuter.

When I received the earrings – clearly not as pictured on the site – my first thought was, “dumbass, you ordered the WRONG thing..again!”  Sigh…it’s not the first time it’s happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I checked my order invoice, and sure enough I’d ordered the RIGHT earrings and they’d sent me the WRONG ones.

So, it wasn’t me? I guess?

I contacted customer service, via e-mail, and got an extremely effusive apology from a very perky (I imagined “Tina” as a 20-something college student about to embark on a personal quest to save all the whales, and unicorns, and garden gnomes in the world) “customer experience specialist” (really?) who promised to ship my correct earrings that day.

Me: Thank you, and please issue a return for these and I’ll send them back.

Tina: Already done, it’s attached in this e-mail.  Just print it out and put it on the envelope you got your earrings in and send them back.  Oh, and have a super day!

Me: Oh..okay, will do

And, I did, sending the wrong earrings back.

The VERY next day I received yet another package with what I assumed was the RIGHT earrings.

They were the same WRONG earrings I’d sent back.  I mean, not THE same earrings I’d sent, but another pair of the wrong thing.

Feck.

Me:  Hey, Tina, yeah I got the WRONG EARRINGS again.  Let me ask you, does your inventory match the SKU numbers on the site?  I mean, this isn’t rocket science.

Is it? Is it me? Do I not understand the intricacies of online retail? I wondered.

My cell phone rang about 3 seconds after I sent the e-mail.

“Hello”

“Hi, this is Tina, from (unnamed_retail_outlet)”…Sweet clothespin jeebus, she sounded exactly like I imagined she would… “and, I am SUPER sorry about the mix-up again!! Hold on a minute while I check something, okay?!”

“Okay”

She came back on the line after a minute or so, breathless, “Okay, I’ve got the RIGHT earrings in my hand now. I’m super-sure of it. I’m sending them out today, and you know what? Just keep those others for all your trouble!!”

“Oh..well…umm…thanks?”

The WRONG earrings are hideous people, like really, really ugly…but, they were free, so yay?

I did, in fact get the RIGHT earrings the next day.

I love them.

In episode 2, a popular online retail site for pet food and products screwed up an order for my cat’s special food.

Yes, I buy my cat stupidly expensive food because he’s diabetic and prone to puking if his system gets out of whack. And, you know what? Turns out I don’t like cleaning up cat puke.

I’ve been buying the same, exact-no-changes, food for three years now.  Every month, they send me the stuff and charge my credit card.

Until last month, and the automatic didn’t happen.  It was me, that time, as I’d forgotten to update my credit card after having to get a new one when someone in New York tried to buy $800 worth of parking on my stolen credit card information (high fives to my bank for catching that so quickly!).

When it came time for Bugsy, the Insane to get his food I got an e-mail telling me that my order wasn’t coming because of the payment issue.

I called immediately, explained the mix-up, and gave them the corrected information.

Fido: “So, we’ll just get that added to your account so it doesn’t happen again!!  And we are super-pleased you chose (unnamed_pet_outlet) for all your fur baby’s needs!!”

Me: “Uh..okay..thanks?”

I’m always confused and startled by the exuberance of most customer service people, and wish they’d all go work at the post office or the DMV…like, right now.

This month, I got an e-mail stating with sad puppy eyes that I wasn’t getting Bugsy’s-now-I-won’t-puke food…because my credit card was denied.

Huh?

I looked at the e-mail, it listed the last 4 digits of the card I’d canceled.

The one I’d replaced last month with Fido, over the phone, and he was super excited about it.

I called again, and explained again, about the credit card.  This time, Fido found the old notes and said he’d “definitely get this corrected right away”, and ship Bugsy’s food.

I got the food, but I have to wonder what next month will bring.

Is it me, or is it too much to ask that I give you information and you retain it somewhere?

It’s me, isn’t it?

And, lastly, my first order from another site (can you tell I shop online a LOT?) had two items in it.

I got one.

So, I sent an e-mail to my “bestfriend” @ (unnamed_vintage_site).com   Is it me, or is that presumptuous?

It’s me, isn’t it? I mean, who couldn’t use a BFF in online retail, right? Hello, discounts!

I digress, anyway I was asking about Thing 2, having received Thing 1 that day.

BFF: Wow, that was super fast!! And, typically our orders don’t come all from the same place so they arrive in different packages.  But, we know you’ll be super happy with it!

Me: Oh, okay. I was in no rush. It’s my first time ordering from you, so I was just wondering. I do love Thing 1, though.

BFF: We’re super happy about that!! Thank you!!

Me: …

I didn’t answer back. I was super tired from reading.

Is it me, or are these exchanges just a tad over-wrought with faked sentiment and the overuse of the word “super”?

It’s me, isn’t it?

Isn’t it? I’d be super happy if you agree!!!

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