A Blog-o-versary!

I am in serious shock. Aside from my personal journal, I have never kept a project going for more than a year.

Truthfully, I can’t take all of the credit. If Pendulum didn’t have an audience, I would have been discouraged enough to abandon the blog. If I didn’t have such wonderful friends here, I might not be inclined, or even inspired to write. Thank everyone for their eyes, ears, fingers, minds, and hearts.

Now, for this blog-o-versary behind-the-scenes edition of Pendulum.

Little known fact #1:
Pendulum was not the first blog I created on WordPress. Some people know about the other one, but I’m not really supposed to directly give the secret away.

No, the inspiration for a blog actually came out of a kind of spite thing. An old, friend-turned-rival had a personal blog she used to keep updated with friends. It contained some cute antecdotes about her life and some concert and album reviews, nothing incredibly revealing. While I had no inclination to start a very personal blog, I did want to have a humor blog with some antecdotes about my own life.

By the time June rolled around, I was in a very isolated place with my life affected by disorder. I felt like I was hiding behind some alter-ego (when am I not? Let’s be honest!), and I was suffering in silence. I always had been.

After a forum and a friend, Pendulum was born.

Little known fact #2:
Pendulum started with a self-injury post, To See if I Still Feel (a Nine Inch Nails lyric). But, what is lesser known is that it was accompanied by a half-hearted suicide attempt.  It’s coded throughout the post, but I never really came out and said it.

Pendulum literally saved my life that day.  That was the day that I really realized that there are other people out there who are like me, who have been what I have been through, and get it.  That’s always been the problem in my life.  There are few people who get it, and those that do only seem to want to have a pity-party competition.

It wasn’t followed up by comments right away.  But, it was a start.

Little known fact #3:
“As the Pendulum Swings” was not the original choice for a blog title.  However, the blog title that I wanted was already in use by my other account.  At that point, I was very much in hiding about bipolar disorder, so I had to sever from it.  I literally sat at my computer for a half an hour, staring at this blinking, expectant cursor.

It is not named after the Linkin Park song, “In the End“, though many times I use the full name of this blog, it does go through my mind.  All I could think about was my time ticking away, pendulum swinging back and forth, dragging my emotions with it, with all of the futility and loneliness of my existence.  And that’s how it came to me.  My life is like a pendulum.  With an upswing, there will be a downswing, and so on, and so forth.  There is no end until the clock runs out.  And then, you’re dead.  And no one knows when that’s going to be.  Today, tomorrow?  Old, young?  By my own hand, or by a stupid accident?

So, this blog was named to detail the swinging pendulum of my life, and go with the ups and downs.

Little known fact #4:
Tallulah grew out of several different names throughout this last year.  Those that have been with the blog prior to February will remember the screen name of LunaSunshine.  LunaSunshine was named for the tattoo on my back of a moon and sun, my own visual representation of the duality of my nature and the stark contrast of parts of my life.  I knew Luna was “Moon”.  I just couldn’t do any better for the “Sunshine” part.

Now, even lesser known fact.  At a job I worked over a year before this blog, I earned the nickname of Sunny, just because of my demeanor.  Believe me, it was really difficult some days.  Sunny was something that stuck with me, because no one had ever referenced me in such a manner before.  I didn’t know I could even be perceived in that context.

And during an episode, just before my son’s second birthday, I dyed my hair bleach blonde, a color I hadn’t worn since it was my natural color as a child.  I guess it marked some kind of stability for me, because I’ve managed to keep the same color for almost two years now.  Before that, it was bouncing between brown and red, based on the episode I was in at the time of the purchase of the hair color.

Now, back to the evolution of the name.  Another blogger started to refer to me as “Lulu”, and somehow, it fit.  It just stuck.  No real rhyme or reason in a real life context.  And maybe that was why.  A clean break, you know?

How did it evolve into Tallulah?  Actually, there is a post entitled, “A Proper Name” that gives explanation to that.  Tallulah has always been a name I wanted to name a daughter, if I ever had one.  I realize that’s not an option.  Tori Amos wrote a song called, “Talula”, which carried a special meaning for me.  To me, it spoke of the projection of the ideal woman, whether it was mine to begin with or not, and holding it as a standard, where if I don’t embody it, then I will be abandoned by the ones I love.  It’s kind of like “behave, or we’ll stop loving you”.

It fit with “Lulu” already, so that was that.  Stark was just something that paired well with it.  It was not intentional, as it just popped into my head, and it has nothing to do with Iron Man.  In fact, I have never seen the movie.  But, I will make a kind of weird admission that Robert Downey Jr. looks kind of hot in a GQ sort of way in the commercials.

Lesser known fact #5:
This is my first mental health blog, but not my first blog about my personal life.  In my younger years, I had been inclined to share things via short lived blogs on Livejournal, Darkjournal, Blogspot, Myspace, etc.  In fact, I have had flame wars with my husband via blog sites, obviously much prior to our relationship and subsequent marriage.  I found hard evidence that my ex had been cheating on me, via blog sites.  My husband found out he had a stalker (same woman as the one my ex cheated on me with).  And I’ve even had to end several friendships over flame wars on blogs.

The very last time I had a falling out on a blog site was when I was finished with blogging entirely.  I didn’t appreciate how a friend dragged an incident where she was completely in the wrong into a public light.  Then, she went as far as to try to spin it, and take the focus off facts and onto slanderous statements.  I quit after that.  We closed down all blogs, old email accounts, and most social networking sites.

And finally. . .

Lesser known fact #5:
My husband is well aware that I keep this blog.  He knows it has a public address.  He can access any and all of it’s content at any time.  We share passwords, and there aren’t supposed to be any secrets. Totally accessible. And he hasn’t read a word.

I’m amazed at the lack of curiosity. I don’t blame him though.

Happy blog-o-versary!

Called Off?!?!

I was prepared for my psychiatrist appointment this morning, for a change. With the help of my bipolar bloggers, namely Ruby and Manic Monday, especially when referring to the post The Case of the M&M Interactions.

I had determined that my medicine is not right for my current symptoms. I’m cycling faster and faster. And the irritability has returned. I’m not grumpy – I’m flat out pissed. And I’m always a ticking time bomb as a result. I can’t sleep at night and it’s hard to be motivated in the day. This med check, as annoying as they usually are, was absolutely necessary.

My doctor is located about 15 miles away, so it’s quite a trek to get there, and usually very inconvenient in my busy schedule. I arrived early only to discover that my doctor had just called off 10 minutes ago. It was absolutely enraged. I had dragged myself out of bed extra early, called my mother out to sit while T.D. slept, inconvenienced my husband to take me up there before he went to work only to be sent away. WTF?!?! I know things come up. But there was absolutely no consideration for his patients.

To make matters worse, I had to sit and wait an unacceptable amount of time to be rescheduled. Where is the level of professionalism in that office? I watched the minutes pass and knew that if I didn’t get out of there soon, C.S. would be late for work. And even worse than all of that, I had to push to be scheduled before my medicine ran out. That left me to be scheduled with Nurse Betty. I know what she’s going to say. The same thing she says every time I have a complain about my medicine, “We’ll keep you on these medications and see what happens. I’ll have you scheduled in a month with the doctor.” UGH! Why bother?! Wait, oh yeah. They are holding my medicine hostage.

I really hate doctors. Seriously.

Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Bringing in the Big Guns

After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery.  I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures.  It didn’t matter.  I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do.  The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.

I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control.  I took the call when it came.  ASCUS, same news, different month.  I couldn’t face it.  I didn’t want to do it all over again.  But as usual, Planned Parenthood didn’t really take this news seriously.  I didn’t plan on going back anyhow.  The nurse practitioner butchered me during that routine exam and left me bleeding for a week afterward.

Finally, I had good health insurance and went to Magee Hospital Womancare.  By chance, I was given to a doctor that specialized in woman specific cancers.  Upon our first meeting, I didn’t care for her.  She was cold, calculating, and blunt.  She reviewed my records, took a pap, and sent my samples off to an Oncologist – the first time a real cancer doctor had ever seen my file.  I was relieved, but I couldn’t stand her bedside manner.  Her words were few and her work was rough and quick.  At least it was quick.

I got the good news of my first negative pap in years!  I celebrated!  The dysplasia was gone!  I rejoiced at having that burden lifted from me.  No more would I worry about growing more cancerous cells, as day after day passed.  I could live without constant concern of death.

Until April 2011.

I had neglected to get my six month pap and was coming upon my yearly pap.  The office tried to contact me and I missed several appointments.  I was very busy now.  I had just been accepted into my first teaching job and was responsible in the spring musical as the Music Director.  The very night of the show, Womancare tracked me down.  I paced backstage and scheduled my appointment for spring break.  I realized the urgency and knew I was running out of birth control anyway.

The pap was bad.  ASCUS, again.  There was no infection or alternative explanation.  Another colposcopy had to be done to confirm all of our fears.  I scheduled it for the first week in June 2011.  I knew I would be laid off by then and would have plenty of time for recovery.  But, as you know from previous posts, I had developed the flu which turned into pneumonia.  I missed the appointment, and rescheduled for July 15, previously noted in “All the Pretty Things”.

What I didn’t mention was the nervous bus ride into the city.  Nor did I mention the walk alone through Downtown, only mitigated by my bravery to do it alone after C.S. once again failed to attend at the last minute and serenity found at the fountain.  I laid on the table in the familiar position – feet in stirrups, staring at the ceiling.  I felt the vinegar sting the tissue inside of me.  I sighed.  Then, there was a feeling of a stab, twice that of a shot, and enough for me to lose my breath.  I heard the doctor say, “That’s not enough of a sample.” and then came another unbelievable stab that had me seeing stars.  I cried out in pain.  Just keep breathing, keep breathing.  The tears flooded to my eyes and another slice that felt like a twisting knife in my insides.  Breathe.  Keep breathing.  I told myself over and over, but I was choked with tears from the incredible amount of pain.

The doctor was uncharacteristically sympathetic.  She asked me questions, but I could not speak.  I could not catch my breath to tell her that I just needed a moment.  She offered me a cool towel and I declined.  She offered me a cool drink and I accepted.  I tried to get up, but she insisted that I lie back down for awhile.  I needed time for the apoxy to take hold to cover the internal wound.  I needed time for the cramping to go away before I should move.  She knew more than anyone else in my life that all I needed was some time.  I sipped the water, caught my air, and said to her, “I don’t remember it being quite that painful.  Then again, I don’t remember it being quite that fast either!”  I was trying to save face, but it didn’t matter.  She had seen the twisted look on my face with my eyes squeezed shut.  She asked about my condition and I told her I was OK and that I still needed to catch my breath.

I was still choking back tears.  I was ashamed that I couldn’t handle the pain and cried.  I was so alone.  I was furious that C.S. had not made more of an attempt to be with me.  But more than anything, I was sad that I had been let down again.  And I knew I would have to drag all of that physical and emotional pain down the streets of Pittsburgh, back home with me, and into my home to face my son alone.

All alone.

The Anticipated Call

The office assured me that we would have a result by Friday.  I knew what they were going to say.  I had hoped that they would say that it was CIN I, and we could wait.  But I knew it wasn’t.  Just like I knew in the beginning that I would be in the 10% where this doesn’t resolve on it’s own.  Just like I knew after the cryosurgery that this wasn’t the end of it.  I wanted to believe differently, but in my bones, I knew better.

Friday morning, I took the call.  I was in my mother’s kitchen while T.D. was downstairs watching Spongebob for the gazillionth time.  CIN II.  This time they wanted to perform LEEP because of my advancing age, history with this disease, and my current grade of dysplasia.  Seemingly, it was progressing faster this time.  Or else, the cryosurgery just didn’t take.  I knew all of these things, because I often have the power of foresight.  At least when it comes to my body and my mind.  But, there is nothing that can actually prepare you for the news.  There is also nothing that can prepare you for what you are facing.

The nurse I spoke to wanted to schedule a surgical consult before we proceed.  I was puzzled and felt some looming threat.  I had never been offered a surgical consult before.  Apparently, the doctor and I have a lot to converse about.  In the meantime, I am left my with racing thoughts and full internet access.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Each surgery presents the problem with damaging the cervix with scar tissue.  If enough is amassed, that may pose problems for future fertility.  The statistics say that cervical stenosis, the narrowing of the cervical canal, is about a chance of 1-2%.  But the statistics are a little more unclear when it comes to cervical competency to bring a fetus to full term.  The more they take of the cervix to remove affected cells, the thinner the cervix becomes, which destroys its integrity.  In summation: If I have this procedure, can I have the second child that I’ve been trying to plan for?

But what are the chances if I wait to have the procedure until after my second child is born?  Will I develop invasive cancer in the meantime?  Will they have to take my uterus if I decide to wait?  What is the risk?

It would break my heart to lose the second child I so desperately want.  But it would destroy my body if I were to have a hysterectomy, or worse, to face death due to cancer.

Another waiting game lies ahead.  I do not have my consult until August so I cannot have any of my questions definitiely answered until then.

The sword of Damocles hangs over my head.

All because of two complete assholes that I trusted and loved.

To be continued . . .

Leep-Into-Cin II – Part II

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

July 19, 2007

C.S. and I walked through the neighborhood in the early morning hours.  The air was thick and heavy like wet cotton, but a chilled wind passed every few moments, carrying with it the scent of midsummer rain.  Our discourse was just as thick, but much more warm.  It was like other evenings, but with an electric charge of an impending thunderstorm in the air.  We walked the desolate backstreets with a course for a local convenience store.  Everything was quiet, with the exception of our conversation and the light patter of rain beginning to fall.

Mid-sentence, underneath a huge tree of which the limbs spread high into the sky and over the alley, C.S. grabbed me by the shoulders.  He put his hands to my face and breathed, “I have always loved you.”  With those words, he kissed me deeply and jump started a heart and soul that were long dormant.  I caught my breath and my words, then asked, “Is this true?”  He answered without hesitation, “Yes.  I knew since the night that we painted.  You made me a mural of the stars that I stared at each night for years.”

That had been almost four years prior.

C.S. knows all of my darkest secrets.  At that point, we had been friends for five years.  C.S also knew all of the darkest secrets of Avi and Beck.  C.S. was kind, but he did not hold back when revealing  the ugly truth that were the skeletons in those men’s closets.  I had never been so betrayed and disgusted with others.  C.S. had no hand in it.  He was an innocent bystander, only collecting secrets like a Pandora’s box.  Now the box had opened, and I was dealing with the tremendous reality of it.

The First Blow – ASCUS

After all had been revealed, I decided it in our best interest to see a gynecologist.  I had seen a gynecologist a year before, and six months before that.  It was always unremarkable and a necessary discomfort in order to get birth control.  That was the primary concern.  I was not about to start a relationship by getting pregnant.  It had never happened before, and I wasn’t about to begin then.

A month had passed since my Pap smear, and it was already late August.  C.S. and I were at home, enjoying a day off together.  In fact, we had taken our first hooky day off together so we could continue to enjoy each others company for a long weekend.  I had received a call from the clinic and was perplexed.  They had never called me before.  I took the call and had to move to the balcony for a better signal on my cell phone.  In these days, network in my area was limited.

The words came at me faster than my brain could handle.  My Pap smear result showed “atypical cells of undetermined significance” or ASCUS for short.  My heart raced.  What the hell did that mean?  In short, it meant that I likely had cervical dysplasia, but that could only be determined by a colposcopyAnd what the hell did THAT mean?  Cervical dysplasia refers to cellular changes in the cervix causing precancerous lesions and a colposcopy is a procedure where the doctor determines the grade of these lesiosn.  What causes that?  Human papillomavirus (HPV).

That Son-of-a-Bitch

I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t get any definitive answers.  Who gave this to me?  All of my exams had been clean.  Only a year had passed between, and one of us was supposedly monogamous.  I knew my mistake, but I was very careful to use protection!  It had come down between Avi, who had claimed to have been faithful with the exception of that one indiscretion two years prior, and Beck, that dog of a man, with whom I had only had sexual contact for a few seconds with a condom.  There was never a way to determine which one was at fault.  Neither would confess, especially under the circumstances.  The two men in my life that had used, abused, and thrown me away contended to give their last blow to me.

The First of Many

In September 2007, I had my first colposcopy.  I was scared out of my mind.  Never in my life had I experienced any significant medical problems outside of pesky asthma and painful tendonitis of the knee (later diagnosed as a result of Genu valgum, or knock-knee syndrome).  Sure, I had taken a few blows to the head that resulted in concussions, but they were very mild and never required anything more than a shining light in my eyes and a couple of stitches to my head.  C.S. went with me that day, but he wasn’t allowed in the room because we were not yet married, only engaged.

The procedure is absolutely underestimated in the eyes of practitioners.  It is considered to be routine, and is in nature.  But they failed to notify me that a biopsy was involved.  This is significant information.  They failed to tell me that they were cutting a piece of my flesh from my body!  I laid there, my feet in stirrups, in a silent room as metal scuffed about on the trays and tables.  And then there was an unbelievable pain without any warning.  I clenched my teeth and dug my brand new garnet engagement ring into my palm with all of my might.  It was the only thing I could do not to scream.
I’m a Whore

I got what I deserved.  The one time in my life that I had cheated and this was my punishment.  Painful gynecological procedure for flapping my wares about.  I’m a whore.  How could C.S. go on loving a whore, knowingly?  I’m dirty, I’m diseased.  And I know I gave it to him.  I passed this vile thing onto the one person I’ve ever cared about this deeply.  I’ve done harm to someone who has given me nothing but love and kindness.  I am tainted.

It plagued me.  But C.S. stood in his position – I didn’t know.  I couldn’t have known any better.  He didn’t care what had happened before.  He only wanted me to be healthy and live a long life with him.  I was so happy to hear this.  So we continued to plan for our wedding to start our long, happy, healthy lives together in the eyes of the law.  We had started living together as roomates before we were ever romantically involved.

A Doctor’s Assurance, a Beautiful Lie

Another month passed before I had my result.  You know, Planned Parenthood works pretty slowly.  It was October at this time, and we had just booked our reception hall for April 26, 2008.  Our wedding had a date now.  The nurse reported that I had CIN I, indicating mild cervical dysplasia.  She also reported that on account of my age and the statistics that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 90 percent of HPV infections are “cleared” by the body within two years.”, the doctor advised that we repeat the Pap in six months to monitor changes.

Four months later, I had become pregnant with T.D.  By the time I had my first Obstetrician appointment, it was time to repeat my Pap.  I reported to the OB that I had CIN I and he scoffed at me.  “Oh the dreaded dysplasia!  Don’t worry, in most cases it resolves itself within a year.  It won’t affect your pregnancy at all.”  What a lie!  My pap came back bad again.  But there was nothing else we could do.  Colposcopies are not recommended for pregnant women.  It had become a waiting game.

Warning Flags

During my pregnancy, my medical insurance change and I thankfully changed OB’s.  I had reported everything to the new OB and was shocked when he became worried about my situation.  He demanded that he receive all of my gynecological records since I began seeing one.  Planned Parenthood works slowly and it took him six months to get the complete documents, after several threats.  But once he had those records in his hands, he was gravely concerned.  We scheduled a colposcopy for my 36th week of pregnancy to avoid preterm labor.

Up until my impending labor, this had been the most painful experience of my life.  The pain of the biopsy is a thousand times more pronounced in pregnancy.  Essentially, they are cutting into a cervix that has thinned in preparation for labor, and is inflamed by the hormones of pregnancy.  The cramps were not just uterine cramps, they were contractions.  I cried, and held C.S.’s hand tight.  At the very least, he stood by my side this time.

The result was CIN II, and I thankfully went full term.  Although we had this result, it was still more of the waiting game.  The situation was becoming more dire.  In a years time, the dysplasia had progressed a full stage.  However, we would have to wait until T.D. was born, and I was completely healed afterward.

I lost my insurance after T.D. was born, and sat in the dark about the dysplasia for eight months.  By the next pap, and the following colposcopy, I had progressed to CIN III.  At this point, I had a new gynecologist because my OB had left the practice a month after T.D. was born.  We were unfamiliar with each other, but she urged that I have cryosurgery as soon as possible.  I saw the urgency because the next step was carcinoma-in-situ, sitting cancer on my cervix.  It had only been less than two years since my original diagnosis and I was already at this point.

Cryosurgery – Alone

I scheduled my cryosurgery for the next available appointment, which was a month later in July 2009.  C.S. promised to go with me.  I looked to him to do so.  I couldn’t go through this alone.  I had suffered so much in the last year.  I had the colposcopy, a month long prelabor, and gone through childbirth through induction.  After another painful colposopy, I just couldn’t go through it by myself.  The thought alone was too much for me.

But, as was becoming the norm, C.S. had something come up at work at the last minute.  My mother cared for T.D. when I was at appointments.  I had to be strong, and I had to go alone.  I was a mother now.  If I can handle labor, I can handle surgery.

I could.  The surgery itself wasn’t bad and the doctor talked me through it.  There was very uncomfortable cramping nearly to the point of pain, but not quite.  It came in short bursts as they touched the cold probe to my cervix.  I was optimistic about it.  If I can get through this, it will be over forever.  That was until the doctor instructed me to lie on the table, alone in the room.  After five minutes, I could get up, dress, and leave.  It sounded simple enough.

But when I tried to lift myself to sitting, it was a painful struggle.  I gushed a clear liquid tinged with blood.  I panicked.  No one told me that this would happen.  I was weak from the procedure and nearly fell off of the table while getting down.  Standing was painful, and moving was worse.  Everything from my waist to my mid-thigh viciously ached.  Dressing was complicated and I was distressed.  All I wanted to do was go home.  Really, I thought, “I wish C.S. was with me.” and I became furious with him.  How could he?!  I could hardly move and was expected to take care of a 9 month old when I got home.  How could he leave me stuck like this?!  That was the very first time I felt he had failed me.  I resented him for it.  And maybe I still do.

In the Clear?

My next pap came back bad.  They said that could happen while I was still healing.  The cervix, after any kind of trauma, isn’t completely healed for upwards of six months after.  They assured me that the next one would be fine.  I believed them.

I really did.

Leep-Into-Cin II – Part I

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

One Bad Apple . . .
Twelve years ago, almost to the day, the relationship with my first love started.  We had gone circles for over six months.  He eyed me, and I fancied him.  We spoke almost daily and we had become great friends.  There were many late night conversations, spilling out our hopes, dreams, fears…  But, he was forbidden fruit, the tastiest of them all.  He was my best friend’s boyfriend.  After over a month of clandestine meetings, secret phone conversations, secrets, and lies, I came clean.  And within six months after that, we were no longer friends at all.

That is not to say that my relationship with this boy (because that’s what he was at the time), didn’t continue.  It did.  And it thrived.  We were a blissful couple, filled with promise and hope for our future.  We planned to attend college together and marry young.  We’d start our lives together the minute we were adults in the eyes of the law.  It was he and I against the world, against our parents, against everything.  And the only thing that mattered was that we loved each other and love was enough to keep us together forever.

If you call three months shy of four years together forever, then sure, we were together forever.  But, we didn’t love each other and love was not enough.  Not to him, especially.  He was cunning with a tongue of silver and a touch of gold.  And when I took off those rose colored glasses many, many years later, I saw everything for what it was.  Us, huddled together for warmth the February afternoon – him laying me down on a dirty mattress, in an abandoned house to fuck me for thirty awkward and unsatisfactory seconds.  Two lovers kept at a great distance across the city – a conveniently placed “long distance” relationship so he could screw around with any girl who looked at him sideways.  Tender words to a broken soul – patronizing speeches for manipulation of the body attached to the desperate ear.  Long, painful separations due to family obligations and travel – paid time off from the relationship.

Everything looks better at a distance.
His final, parting words to me after we made love only twelve hours earlier were, “I will always be you friend.”  It wasn’t until I discovered the Manslator (every woman has one, some women call it their bullshit radar), many years later, that I realized this heartfelt and endearing sentence had a word missing.  I will always be your fuck friend.  And he meant it.

Plus Another Bad Apple. . .

Off an on for a year after that, “Beck” had me on a string.  I was young and naive.  I can actually thank him for emotionally abusing the nativity out of me.  And that he did.  He would build me up to be the one he almost let get away, and then condemn me for being his greatest mistake.  It was a painful game of cat and mouse, only with emotions.  This all went with the waxing and waning of women and genitals that came in and out of his bedroom – and life.  Of course, I didn’t know this.  I still had the antiquated idea that relationships were exclusive and monogamous!  I was his only girl . . . that night.

Eventually, I wised up a little and walked away from that madness.  I was an adult now, and I didn’t have to take shit from anyone.  After that relationship, I wasn’t about to.  I dated around, and discovered what I considered to be a diamond in the rough while I was in college.

“Avi” was not a sensitive soul with a delicate touch and soothing words.  Avi was a man.  A real man, by any standard I’d ever seen.  He was tough, muscular and stoic.  It seemed as if he were all but impenetrable.  With the exception that he had a soft spot for me.  He reeled with laughter and curiosity about me.  “I’ve never met a girl like you, ever before.  You’re so different.’  I was different.  I was a tomboy by male standards.  I spat, drank, swore, and cut-up with the rest of the men-folk.  I was tough and gave it right back to them.  I didn’t let anyone step on me and I didn’t let anyone stand in my way.  I had to be.  No one nurtured me into adulthood.   I used my nails to dig into the earth and crawl on my belly out into the world.  And I got a lot of hard-knocks on my way in and through.

Avi and I were on our own plane of existence for about six months.  We never fought, and always found each other fascinating.  I had never encountered a man like him, nor had he encountered a woman like me.  In the quiet, behind closed doors, in the dead of night, he would whisper beautiful things to me in my sleep.  He stroked my back and hair when no one was looking.  He was a gentleman who held doors, offered coats, and paid for everything, despite my pitiful attempts at declining.  I was a wild woman to him.  I could care less what anyone thought of my physical being.  I had thoughts and opinions that would not be silenced.  I feared nothing.  Both farces disintegrated quickly.  A year into our relationship, despite the fact that things were clearly falling apart, Avi and I were ready to start a life together and signed a lease on an apartment.

You never really know someone until you have lived with them.

Avi was charming to my friends.  He held a good job and kept up on his classwork.  We held the most outrageous, hilarious, and fun parties.  But behind those closed doors now, he was a madman, and I was a child.  Any mistakes were venomously criticized.  I was berated for the smallest things.  Our disagreements would blow up into full on screaming matches.  He would leave without saying a word, especially when he knew he was losing.  And I, being the child that I was, would chase him down.  And apologize.  And beg.  Then he would alienate me, keeping me at an arms length and blaming me for being over dramatic and harmful to our peaceful existence, and forcing me to comply.  He’d intentionally stay late at work.  He would pick up extra hours and be gone more than he was around.  He would stop answering the phone or texts.

Our friends stopped coming around.  One by one, he picked them off, made them the source of our domestic problems, and alienated them.  He couldn’t hold a job for longer than three weeks.  We were drinking, a lot.  And the more we drank, the less I remembered.  He would encourage it too!  Then there was a push, that led to a shove, that led to a slap, that led to punch, that led to him forcing himself on me . . .

I went to the only person left.  The only person who knew me better than anyone else.  I went to Beck.  I called for help, and he came.  He came with the only help he knew how to give – a stiff drink and a limp dick.  It seemed that several years of alcoholism didn’t do Beck very well.  I chugged a bottle of Jack and had three seconds of sex.  The other twenty-six seconds were Beck viciously fucking the carpet on the stairwell to my apartment.  And he was down by a second in his old age, too.  Not only could I be mortified that I had cheated, but I could be dually ashamed that it wasn’t remotely satisfying.  I stood at the top of the stairwell looking down on Beck as he departed.  And I asked him, “Would you at least call?  So I don’t feel like a whore.”  He agreed.  And the only word I received was a Myspace blog post declaring his love for another girl, three days later.

Another year had passed.  I was about to leave Avi.  I really was.  I had thought about it on my long walks through the ice and snow to work.  There was a lot of silence in my head and in that house to fill.  I had planned that we would go to our respective family places for Christmas that year.  And while he was gone, I was going to change the locks, change my phone number, change my address, and leave all of his stuff on the front porch with my father standing by with a shotgun.  I had decided this at Thanksgiving when he was gone.

He always knew.  Every time I had packed a bag in the past, he knew when I was serious.  That’s why most of the time he just sat idly by, calling me a stupid bitch, or a dirty whore while I threw everything I could into some kind of luggage.  But it was by the things that I wasn’t doing that he knew.  When I wasn’t coming home until I thought he would be asleep.  When I wasn’t talking about our relationship and instead about a new friend, especially male ones.  When I wasn’t talking at all.  He knew.

He came home from his family a new man.  There were smiles, hugs, communication, and quality time.  We watched movies together again.  We were sober.  We went on dates and made new friends.  It was like a new lease on our relationship!

Until, he came clean.  All of the time that I thought he held a good job was time he was using to cheat on me.  He held a relationship with another girl we both went to school with.  They had clandestine meetings in places that school that I held sacred to us.  That was the only in discretion that he ever admitted, although I could pin several more on him.  Three of my best friends and my sister all came to me when our relationship was finished to tell their tales.  And the rest ,a server at the restaurant, his boss’ girlfriend, another co-worker, a few more girls from his home town, and a half-a-dozen women from the internet, were all speculation.

It was through C.S.’s love that he gave me the courage of conviction to rid myself of Avi and Beck forever.  He gave me the courage to see the doctor again and get my life straightened out.

Ruins the Whole Bunch.  And Barrel.

It was only when I got those first test results back in July 2007 that I had only begun to know the damage that Beck and Avi had brought to my life.

Pap result – ASCUS.  Probable cause – HPV.

To be continued . . .

The Case of the M&M Interactions

I had a psychiatrist once tell me that the psych meds were all “M&M’s a different color”.  Doctorspeak for, “Same thing, different packaging.”  How refreshing.  At least she was honest about it and didn’t make it seem like one thing was going to be the miracle cure.  That’s now how I refer to my cornucopia of medications.  M&M’s of a different color.  I’ve got my big white ones, little white ones, my shelled white ones, the big bulky blue breathey one, and the mac-daddy of suppliments I take to keep everything else under control.

I’ll take you through a quick run-through of the normal of chronic ailments and then medications.

Bipolar II
Mood Stabilizer:
Lamictal (lamotragine) – 100 mg twice daily = 200 mg

Antidepressant:
Wellbutrin XL (bupropion) – 150 mg once daily

Sleep Aid: (insomnia)
L-Glutithoine (nutraceutical)
L-Theanine (nutraceutical)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anti-anxiety (benzodiazepine):
Ativan (lorazepam): 1 mg, three times daily = 3 mg

Asthma:
Ventolin (no generic)- 2 puffs every 4 to 6 hours or as needed

Migraines:
Maxalt (no generic)- 5 mg when you feel a migraine coming on

Tendonitis of the Knee and Genu valgum (Knock Knee):
Ibuprofin – 200 mg every 4 to 6 hours or as needed

High Cholesterol:
Garlic (nutraceutical)
Omega3 Fish Oil with DHA and EPA (nutraceutical)
L-carnatine (nutraceutical)

Regular Suppliments
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Vitamin B-12 with Folic acid
Pantothenic Acid
Bioflaviniod Complex
Bromeline 3000
Ubiqinol (I highly recommend this one for fatigue but it’s pretty expensive)
And probably like 10 others I’m not thinking of right now.

And of course, I am a woman of childbearing age, so throw in an oral, hormonal contraceptive.

Throw in 60 mg of prednizone, and a Z-pak and you’ve got a medicine soup.

Think about all of the doctors we have. Pdoc, PCP, OB/Gyn, Neurologist, Orthapedic, etc. Now, consider that despite the hundreds of times I relay the medications from one doc to another, it probably widens the margin of error.

I’m finishing this on my phone so I have to put the full link on.
http://reference.medscape.com/drug-interactionchecker. This is a comprehensive multi-drug interaction checker. Slap ’em all in there and it’ll tell you. Of course with a little doctorspeak.

Turns out azithromycin (z-pak) doesn’t play well with hormonal bc. Pregnancy risk. Hormonal bc doesn’t play well with lamictal and prednizone by increasing the metabolism rate and having higher concentrations in the blood.

Who knew?

Somatopsychic

Definition of PSYCHOSOMATIC

  1. 1: of, relating to, concerned with, or involving both mind and body <the psychosomatic nature of man — Herbert Ratner>
  2. 2: of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance <psychosomatic symptoms> <psychosomatic medicine>

We hear it so often, especially when relating to depressive symptoms.  Depression hurts.  Ever heard that expression?  Probably.  That is, after years and years of being called a hypochondriac, lazy, dodging responsibilities, neglectful, irresponsible, neurotic, uncaring, inattentive, a complainer, and a flat out liar.  You might still be getting flack for that, right?  I sure am.

We’ve touched upon the issue of bipolar depression and it’s limitations at Dailystrength.org’s Bipolar Support Group and again in Blogging Beepers throughout various posts.  Bipolar depression literally destroys us both mentally and physically.  It’s a proven fact that bipolar depression and hypochondria  have nothing to do with one another.  The aches and pains are real.  The exhaustion and fatigue are too real for words.  The headaches are blinding and are just as real to us as they are to you “norms’.  Depression causes a variety of symptoms that aren’t just made up in our heads.  And they sure as hell aren’t made up because we’re too apathetic toward our own lives.

I’m a control freak, much like Mwam who writes “I Was Just Thinking…”.  I cannot stand the idea of someone else having to take the reigns of my life.  It is my body; it is my mind – I can do, say, think, whatever the hell I want.  Except when I cannot physically or mentally do the things that I think and want.  I don’t put the responsibility on anyone else.  I don’t throw my kid at the nearest person because I’m having a breakdown.  I don’t let the bills go unpaid and I don’t let my house get to the point where it would likely be condemned.  I wear my stylish clothes, dash on that makeup, and I don the smile that you trolls love so much.  I keep on moving at MY pace, where the “norms” like it, or not.

Which brings me to Monday.  I noticed that I had been losing pace unusually fast, and my physical health had turned for the very worst.  Unusually so.  I had made a recent, but passing mention of a physical illness in, “When it Rains, It Bleeping Hurricanes”.  And since “To See If I Still Feel”, I’ve been making multiple mentions of a lingering depressive episode.

I bring you a surprising answer.

Definition of SOMATOPSYCHIC
: of or relating to the body and the mind; especially : of, relating to, or concerned with mental symptoms caused by bodily illness >

Shortly after the accident, I contracted what I thought to be influenza.  It happens biannually.  This year, it was the stomach flu at Christmas, and the body flu in the summer.  The year before it was H1N1 (or Swine Flu) over Halloween and “viral syndrome” (AKA summer flu in doctor-speak because, they don’t seem to think anyone can catch the flu outside of flu season).  I hate it, but that seems to be the rhythm of circulating illness.

Anyhow, during this June influenza, I developed laryngitis, and as a music teacher, this is bad, bad, bad news.  As a wife of a man who has diagnosed hearing loss but is too vain for hearing aids, it was the most aggravating thing to ever happen to me.  99.9% of As the Pendulum Swings readers have never met me, seen my face, or heard my voice.  I am very careful to preserve anonymity.  (Yeah, come find me among the 1,223,348 people that live in Allegheny County, PA!)  I’ll tell you this.  I am a 5 foot 1 inch powerhouse of sound.  If I were a stereo, my speakers would be larger than I stand.  I don’t need a microphone in assembly halls, cafeterias, stages, or theaters.  Literally.  So having the mother of all sore throats that preventing me from speaking at all was a challenge.

But this continued for over a month.  I didn’t want to see a doctor because I knew I would get all fired up when they told me it was something stupid like allergies, asthma, cold, etc that could not account for these symptoms.  But they would.  Because I’m a big flippin’ hypochondriac.  And I would’ve been a whining drama-queen who blew my symptoms out of proportion just so I could go on being lazy.  Over the last week, though, I noticed that I started to lose a lot of traction.  My throat felt like there was glass in it, I had a half an octave surrounding my speaking voice, I was intermittently running a low grade fever, and I had a super sensitivity to changes in temperature.  I noticed my behavior changing.  I started letting go.  I let my kids in my classes have free periods.  I couldn’t go three hours with the dire need to sleep.  I let my kid destroy the house and hardly said a word to him.  I couldn’t.  My throat hurt so bad that I would only talk when it was absolutely necessary.  But when the shortness of breath came, I knew that wasn’t anxiety or any other psychosomatic symptom.  I literally wasn’t getting enough oxygen into my body.  And I started to feel it – HARD.

My husband pretty much reluctantly took me to the local urgent care after he got home from work yesterday.  He kept saying, “It’s up to you, it’s up to you.”  Manslation – I will take me if you tell me that I have to.  It turns out, I have (drum roll please!):

Walking Pneumonia!

Walking pneumonia with acute bronchitis complicated by history of asthma, as a secondary infection to influenza.  And do you know who invited this illness into my ecosystem?  It wasn’t the children.  It was the dirtiest, nastiest, smelliest, most abominable creature I have ever encountered – Rs (we’ll call him).  Rs is my husband’s estranged best friend who recently made reconciliation.  When this guy comes around, it never fails that someone becomes deathly ill.  One year, we thought he gave C.S. SARS because they both had respiratory infections so badly.  (Neither confirmed, nor denied.  No one had health insurance).  C.S. was almost too sick for our first Valentine’s Day.  The only person in my family Rs hasn’t gotten sick yet is T.D.  And if T.D. ends up in the hospital because of that misogynistic germ breeder, there will be hell to pay.

As my doctor is giving me this information, the light bulb goes off in C.S.’s head.  “Oh yeah, Rs had that about a month ago!”  Smooth operator there, Einstein.  You could’ve killed your wife who seemed like the only person susceptible to this illness!  And speaking of, how was I the only one who got any of these illnesses in the first place?  Oh yeah, because I don’t have an air conditioned bedroom, I sleep next to the fan, I spend at least two hours a day in the elements in my commute, I don’t sit at a desk all day to do my job, and I chase after a hyperactive toddler all day.

“This bleeper is going to get an eyeful when I get my phone back.”  Yes, I was sick enough to leave my Blackberry, which is normally an electronic appendage, at home on the desk.  The text message conversation looked a little like this:

So it turns out that for all of this time, this entire month, I have not been having an episode.  My psych meds were ineffective because they aren’t made to treat somatopsychic illnesses, like pneumonia caught by a music teacher who just so happens to have bipolar disorder.  Only the Z-pak, 60mg of prednizone, and sucking an albuterol four times a day is going to cure that.

I will never let anyone call me a hypochondriac again.  Eff you “norms”.

Riding in Cars with Boys

When I was a little girl, my parents would often fight in the car with both my brother and I in it.  It was always the most distressing experience.  My father would fly off the hook about something, and my mother would beg him to stop screaming in the car and driving like a maniac because we would get into an accident.  My brother has autism, and as a little boy, he would hit whoever was closest to him – hard.  If he hit my dad, he would freak out even more.  If he hit my mom, she would just go silent.  And if he hit me, I would cry, and it would largely go unnoticed because of the bigger problems at hand.

Anyway, it was a disastrous event, every time it occurred.

Eventually, I became old enough to decline invitations to go places and was happy to do so.  My domestic life was dramatic enough without having to take it on the road.  My mother explained to me that my father did this to her on purpose.  Because she was so passive, he would trap her in the car so that she couldn’t avoid the ensuing argument.  Not a bad plan, other than the whole prospect of getting into an accident.  (Which we never did, by the way.  My father, at 61, still has yet to get into an accident that he caused.)

I have found myself in similar situations throughout my years of being a passenger in a car with a significant other.  I had one ex who found the car was the only place he wanted to fight.  He would dodge everything until the key was in the ignition.  And for maximum results, he would take a crowded highway.

I am not my mother’s child.  I am my father’s child in every way, minus most of my physical appearance.  I am not passive, although I can be passive-aggressive.  I have fought to get this far, and I’m not going to lie down anytime soon.  I am highly reactive (probably a product of bipolar), and can take a hint better than most.  I am an empath.  I can feel what’s going on around me, even without words.  So if someone is going to take a stab at me, they better hope they don’t miss.  Because, I’ll be back with chainsaw.  On a non-deep-down-dark-depressive day.

 

Back to the chronological narrative.  After my husband witnessed all of the direct deposits being dumped into the account on Friday, all was well in the world again.  At least his.  I don’t get over things easily.  It’s hard for me to forgive, and I will NEVER forget.  But when he became a little more easy-going and wanted to actually spend time with his family, I started to feel a little better.  We had friends over on both Thursday and Friday after the recent disasters.  C.S. puts on a fantastic show.  It’s like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, truly a dinner theater-type show to behold.  I am less inclined to play pretend when I feel it’s too much of a farce.

Saturday morning came and he was springing to life with ambition for family time.  He was intent upon taking our son (I’ll start referring to him as T.D.) to the museum.  Outings are always a to-do and stressful to get out the door.  Yes, with the man who is perpetually late.  When I die, this man will be late to my funeral, if he makes it at all.  His man will be late to getting to the pearly gates before closing time for the day, and he’ll stand there and sweet-talk Saint Peter into at least sneaking him in the backdoor, while also taking some money off of the cover charge.  That is C.S. in all of his glory.  But when it’s something that wants to do, he’ll be flying us out the door.

“Check the mail.”  Always an obsession with the mail.  You know, there is nothing ever in there but junk mail, bills, and boasting / nagging letters from his annoying, pompous bitch aunt.   (There, I said a swear.  She’s a bitch.)  But no matter.  I grabbed the mail and knew by the scrawl on the front that this was the results from T.D.’s evaluation, addressed: To the parents of T.D., Pittsburgh, blah, blah.  I told C.S. what the contents were and was about to throw it inside.  But I knew that it would gnaw at me until I returned to find it there.

“I have to read it now,” I thought.  So I dropped it in my purse and hauled it off to the car with the rest of the 50 pounds of supplies and junk we need to go five feet from our house.  My doing, mostly, I’ll admit.

As we drove through our town, headed for the gas station, I opened the letter.  I scanned through the first few pages, because I had seen them before.  My husband started hounding me for information and I started to give it to him as I was reading it.  When I got to “The mother filled out a questionnaire to assess Autism Spectrum Disorder…” he went off like a firecracker.  “How could you fill those out… I’m his father too… he  act autistic like what you say… you just said those things to make it seem worse… I should have a say… You aren’t allowed to fill out any of those questionnaires again…”

We pulled into the gas station and I fired back, “Is it going to be like this the whole trip?  I will get out of the car right now and walk myself back home.”  He refused to answer.  “I had to fill those questionnaires out.  It’s part of the evaluation.  I’m doing what is right or our son.”  He growled, “We won’t talk about this here.”

I don’t think so!  Absolutely no one on this planet will ever silence me.  I don’t care if that person is the President, or even the Pope.  No one has the right to take away what I want to say and where I want to say it.  Second, you don’t start an argument with me and then attempt to silence me!  If you started it, I will be sure as hell to finish it.  And third, no one, and I mean, NO ONE on this planet, father or not, will tell me what I’m doing with MY son.  I carried that little boy inside of me for a grueling 38 weeks.  I spent 13 and a half hours in agonizing labor (is there really any other kind?) to bring him into this world.  I bear the physical scars of motherhood on my stomach and other lady parts.  And I have spent the majority of his life raising him practically alone.  I believe that I have earned the right, even if it wasn’t given to me the moment I saw that digital pregnancy test light up as “pregnant”, to do what is needed and best for my son’s health and well-being.

We fought for 10.4 miles.  I google mapped it.  It was this awful back and forth.  C.S. insisted that he be present at every evaluations and that an evaluation couldn’t be done without him.  I bitterly asked him what was the sudden change of heart after he failed to be at every other evaluation.  It was my mother and me, his two primary caretakers and the only two people in T.D.’s life that are well-versed in developmental disorder and mental illness.  “What gives you the right now, after all of this time? Out of the 14 awake hours T.D. has, I care for him 6 hours of that solo and another 3 with you lingering around.  The other five belong to mom, who watches him so I can close the hole in our finances.”  He gets on the defense about how that isn’t his choice and how someone has to work.

I wanted to scream at him that is was his choice.  I was working and all of a sudden, he decided after 8 months of being laid off that he wanted to go back at any cost.  And I still worked after that.  The only time I didn’t spend working at least 15 hours a week was during a portion of my pregnancy when I wasn’t doing well enough to work, and then I became to pregnant for anyone to hire me.  And after I had T.D., when I was very sick from what if physically and emotionally took to bring him into this world.  Now, I can’t work more than I do because someone, meaning me, has to be at home to take T.D. back and forth to therapies, special schools, and be at home for in-home services.  I have done nothing but devote nearly every available waking moment to T.D.  He wasn’t interested before, and I had resigned myself to being a single parent inside of a marriage.  (And believe me, there ain’t a lot of outside help to us married gals, even the ones with bipolar who have children with special needs).  Why now?  You know, all of a sudden when someone wanted to slap a label on him.

I went on to tell him about the rest of the contents of the letter.  He was very silent for a moment and all he had to say for himself was, “Oh.  You didn’t say that before.”  {Insert insane cursing here}.  How could I have possibly been able to do so, when the first three lines that came out of my mouth were met with such a colossal storm of rage, berating, (because that’s his favorite), and threats?

I gave him the points that I couldn’t make before.  This diagnosis opens up the doorway to treatments and funding that T.D. would not have otherwise qualified for.  We are both agreed that he needs extra help, and that even if they go overboard, it can’t hurt him.  Labels don’t carry the weight that they did when we were kids.  In fact, when we register T.D. for school, no one will even have to know about this.  Legally, no one has to know.  We don’t have to tell anyone.  Not our friends, not our family.  We don’t even have to tell his pediatrician if we don’t want to.  (And largely, no one does know.  Two close friends, his therapists, and our parents).  There doesn’t have to be a stigma, and there is so much awareness now that there isn’t one.  This diagnosis, this label, does NOT make T.D. any different than he was yesterday or the day before that.

He was relieved and the conflict was resolved.  For now.  I find it disturbing that the only thing my husband seemed to care about was the social stigma that could result from carrying a PDD-NOS / ASD diagnosis.  But then again…

Who’s Afraid of ‘Gina Wolfe, ‘Gina Wolfe, ‘Gina Wolfe?

(NOT I).

Meet Our Community

I have recently started a “Meet Our Community” section of my blog.  The inspiration came from mwam8 when she began her “Get Famous” section.  I’d like for everyone to tell their story and a little about their blog.  In addition, I will add your blog to my subscriptions and blogroll for others to refer to.

So go ahead.  We all want to meet you, here.

When It Rains, It Bleeping Hurricanes

I swear to {insert deity here}, it’s hurricane season in my life.

The Car Accident(s) and the Untimely Death of “Sebastian”

I had saved my pennies and nickles for over a year to outright buy my first car, my dream car.  It was a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta Sport Edition.  Ultimately, he cost about $10,000 after sale price, tax, title, and a few minor repairs.  I named him “Sebastian” because it was a tough sounding German name, just like my beautiful German car.

Friday, May 13th, 2011 – the one year anniversary of a drunk driver plowing into the front of my house, which was one of the biggest fears I had.  That day, Sebastian took his first hit in a gas station parking lot when a lady who was relying on her backup sensor hit the car twice.  It was mostly cosmetic damage, but the wheel well was pretty messed up and the bumper was pretty much falling off.

Three weeks later, it was June 1st.  My husband was on his way home from work.  He had me on speaker phone and the phone went dead.  I tried to call but it went straight to voicemail.  A few minutes later, my husband called back and the first words out of his mouth were, “I was in a car accident.”  I freaked.

Are you OK?

I don’t know.  Man-speak for “No”.

Where are you?

I think you need to call an ambulance.

I don’t think I can.  I don’t know where you are.  I don’t know how you’re hurt.  I don’t know what’s going on.  Where are you?  I need a location.  I’m coming.

I arrived on the scene and it was encircled by police cars and an ambulance.  I approached it, and caught sight of Sebastian.  My breath was taken right out of me.  The entire drivers side was crushed in.  I didn’t see my husband.  I panicked.  The officers and paramedics looked at me curiously, and all I could do was shout his full name.  He was there, sitting on the traffic island.  His glasses were missing.  He had a cut over his eyebrow.  His knee was swollen and cut.  But he was alive.  And lucky to be so.  He suffered a concussion and whiplash.

He was far from OK.  I stayed up all night to watch him sleep.  He yelled at me to stop coddling him.  I missed work to care for him.  He was not himself.  My husband, usually stoic and stable, was having mood swings.  His personality shifted noticeably.  He insisted on going back to work on Monday.  So, we ended up back at the hospital on Tuesday.  He had post-concussive syndrome, and there was no determining when he would return to normal.

(At this point, I’m thinking he maybe never did.)

The Blame Game

The police report came out on Tuesday, implicating my husband as having run the light and therefore causing the accident.  I know him.  He has been driving for many years and all of them without an accident.  He has never violated any traffic laws; not at least when I was in the car.  There is no way in hell that he would’ve missed a red light, and attempted to cross four lanes of traffic.  The police didn’t even take a statement from him.  It was biased and one-sided because no one else was harmed.

Neither insurance company could determine fault.  Neither paid out.  Sebastian now resides on my in-laws family property, demolished.  But thankfully, we have a loaner car from my in-laws.

Not Needy Enough

As I had mentioned, I was laid off for two weeks between the school year and the summer program.  During which time we had to fork out $392 for an electricity bill.  Why?  Because the local energy assistance program put a cap on their spending and our local electricity company placed us on our their “budget” program while neglecting to notify us.  Their solution?  Reduce your usage.  Supposedly, my bill would drop.

It was a lie.  Two weeks later, we received a bill for $400!  I called our local electricity company to report the error.  We cut our usage down by 3/4th of what it was.  I did the math.  They miscalculated my bill by any excuse they gave me.  It’s based on an average of the last 12 months.  Bull.  That would mean we would be paying about $300 or so.  It’s based on your usage and a percentage of your balance.  Bull.  That would mean they were charging us three times what our usage was.  They even swindled us on the cost of our usage.  We called the PUC.  Their answer?  They can charge you whatever they want when you’re on the budget plan.

I called every local charity service in the area.  No one would help because we just weren’t needy enough.  We were forced to fork over the money or get shut off.

All while my husband was flipping out and blaming me for all of the things I did to cause this situation.  Getting laid off.  Not being able to get charity help.  Not applying for public assistance.

Category 5

I had a bit of good fortune this week and was asked to work twice as long as usual on Wednesday of this week.  It didn’t come without some hefty costs.

I was invited to join a field trip to the zoo.  My task was to push a wheelchair for one of my students who had a broken foot.  Most of you have not been to the Pittsburgh Zoo, so I’ll break it down for you.  It is a very hilly and large place.  I was asked to perform this task because I am one of the younger staffers and likely the most physically fit.  I did so in 90 degree heat for four hours.  I welcomed it though.  I needed physical release and the extra hours were a bonus.  I felt good because I could allow one of my students to participate in the event.  It came with a physical toll of extreme exhaustion.  For the first time in a long time, I was glad to be home.  All I wanted to do was lay down in my bed for awhile.

When I arrived in my bedroom after wrangling my son, I discovered that the work crew had left blow-in insulation all over my room – six inches deep in some places.  I wanted to sit on the floor and cry.  Everything was covered in thick layers of it.  It took me the rest of the night to clean it all up.

I wasn’t in bed until midnight.

I was up again, bright and early with extreme sleep deprivation.  I had to keep my appointment with my psychiatrist.  I was out of medicine and starting to feel the real effects of it.  Then, I would have to rush home to have speech therapy for my son.  After that, I was off to work again.  Except, that didn’t happen.

Because of the holiday, my husband’s pay was delayed.  We had $8 dollars to our name.  And he made my life a living nightmare.  I didn’t get to my appointment.  I didn’t get my medicine.  I just laid on the sofa and cried.  There was nothing to drink in my house.  Nothing to eat.  No money to get to work for either of us.

Due to the generosity of family, we made ends meet.  But not without a hard, long struggle.

Overlooked Medical Problems

My medicine needs adjusted.  I’m not well, and I haven’t been well for a long time now.  (As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now).  My throat has hurt for over a month now and I still have laryngitis.  I’m pretty sure I have tonsillitis.  And I may have damaged my vocal cords permanently as a result.

I will never be the same if I did.  My career will be ruined.  But if I don’t get some medicine soon, I may end up losing control and ruining my life.