Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paralyzing Fear

It's been a while, I'd say... I just need to get some thoughts out of my system, and maybe that'll help conquer them. Who knows, though...

So, when last we saw our heroes (me), I was embarking on a 90-day short-term disability leave from my work. Immediately following this term, I filed a long-term disability claim, which was (hooray!) accepted, and now for the next 2 years I am receiving ~$1,500 per month, to be continued until 2049 if they decide that my disability extends to "any occupation" rather than "own occupation." That is certainly good news and I'm not complaining about that.

However, mandated unemployment has its drawbacks. Although I do my best to get out of the house to work out and do errands, and thusly have maintained a good physical lifestyle, I find myself nearly unable to do anything that expands my mind or life. I clean the house, I cook, I shop, I feed myself and Branden, but when all of those things are done, I just... do nothing.

And then there are things that I really want to do, activities I'd like to get involved in, things that I've basically "decided" to do—like Boulder Community Choir—but when I go back and think about them, my thoughts go something like, "I can't commit to that, that's too much, I don't know if I'll want to keep doing that." I haven't looked into a Tae Kwon Do dojo or ceramics classes, I haven't even finished reading my book about producing webcomics. I don't finish my sketches, I don't finish my stories; I was in the middle of a Shadowrun plot that I was very excited about running, but the idea of continuing to write my ideas down is terrible because I'm sure that my ideas are terrible and the longer I spend wasting my time on recording them, the worse I'm making the world.

I feel like I can run the lives of others to their betterment; I have lost 30 pounds since Christmas by the power of my will alone, and as per usual it's easy to tell other people what to do and even be right. But my own life is unapproachable.

Maybe it's the Tylenol PM talking. I hope so. Right now it's looking pretty bad.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

10 years later

News flash, internet: Jar Jar Binks is no longer funny. If he ever was.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Long coupla weeks.

Many of you who read my blog know about a lot of the things that have been going on in my life, but I feel that for posterity's sake I should sorta list it out and sort it out and see what form it takes. The whole story is long and seems unrelated, but it's all connected, so I'm going to start with the storms first, then whip them to perfection.

Storm #1
Branden's work gave him stock options as a perk, like workplaces do. Up until this point, these were just that—options. He couldn't buy them because they're not a publicly traded company, nor sell them because he can't own them because he can't buy them because they're not a publicly traded company. However, recently, his employer opened up an employee stock incentive program under which employees could trade up to 50% of their salary for stock in the company, at a 15% discount off the most recently evaluated board member purchase price. This program would be available for as long as there were stocks left (the pool is shared between all employees). Because we're concerned for our future and we have been saving and sticking to budgets, etc, we decided to go all in—50% salary for as much stock as possible. We are now completing month 1 of half-salary living.

Storm #2
Branden and I did not go on a honeymoon when we were married. We didn't have the money to even consider such a thing. Now that we're 3 years out of school, Branden's got a good job, I've got a good job, and we've started saving money, we thought it'd be the perfect time to have a honeymoon—concurrent with our 3-year anniversary. We batted it around, made sure that we really believed it was a good idea, put in our PTO requests to our works, and finally, once all the formalities were handled, we purchased plane tickets to Italy. We applied for (or renewed, as appropriate) our passports, we've started booking hotels and hostels. The honeymoon is a go and I certainly can't imagine a better place, time, or person to go with!

Storm #3
Considering the treatment of my MS and what implications it has regarding reproduction, the idea of having kids has been something that Branden and I have had to consider with the calculating eye of a chef in a kitchen. The question regarding whether we should have kids isn't even what's at stake here, but more if we want to have kids, what does that entail? How early do we need to start making preparations (getting off medications, etc)? What sorts of things should we expect? We're approaching "having kids" in a very roundabout way—we're trying to figure out if it's feasible or possible before we approach the decision of whether to actually do it or not. In preparation for the approaching of this decision, I have been in close concert with Planned Parenthood and my team of crack neurologists regarding timing, health, medication, and etc. Directly because of this plan, I have gone off of Tysabri, and if all had gone well, I could be trying to get pregnant right about now.

Storm #4
When I was hired at my job, it was through my good friend and former boss Vinnie, who wedged me into the company he worked for as soon as they had any openings. This was great and excellent; the health benefits were good, the other bennies were good, the pay was good, it was challenging and rewarding and overall a very good job for me to have. In addition, I got to work with my friend Vinnie and I made a bunch of new friends. However, over the course of the year + that I've been there, Vinnie and his boss, Shelly, had more and more friction between them. Vinnie felt that he understood their relationship to allow for some flexing of his own muscles, judgement-wise, and apparently this was not the case. Shelly expected Vinnie to shout "how high" when she screamed "jump," and no less so just because a split second before that she was telling him to get on the ground... However, the point of this particular storm is that, after months of conflict, Shelly finally fired Vinnie. Because I was Vinnie's "favorite" and Shelly didn't want to hire me to begin with, I immediately began feeling like a bug in a jar. Going in to work was like running a gauntlet, and I knew that something had to happen—not least because Vinnie told me that Shelly was planning on writing me up. However, the days passed fairly innocuously, if tensely.

Storm #5
Because of the tenseness I was feeling at work, I decided that it would be a good idea for Branden and I to start looking into buying a home. We live on property at my work, and get a 20% discount off rent & don't have to pay any deposits—if I were to get fired, our rent would go up $300/month and we'd immediately have to fork out $1,100 for security deposit, pet deposit and garage door opener deposit. I was trying to figure out a good way to buy a place and keep our monthly payment to about what it is right now, or less. We looked at some listings online and got back in touch with some realtors we had been in touch with years before (when we had na├»vely considered buying a house while in college), and have been diligently pursuing this possibility. If we manage to close by the end of June, we can get the $8,000 tax credit for new home-buyers; however, we're not going to rush it.
  • A side note to this storm is this: the first day we went out looking at properties, we went to look at one particular one that we both immediately fell in love with. It had these beautiful dark hardwood floors, wood-burning fireplace, lots of nice cabinetry and counter space, and 3 bedrooms—just gorgeous. No yard or lawn though... However, by the time we told the realtors later that day that we were interested in pursuing it, the house was already under contract. I cry now.

Storm #6
My MS treatment... ah.... that loops back around to the "having kids" idea, but it is unrelated enough to be a different issue. I had gotten off Tysabri in anticipation of possibly getting pregnant. Our plan was to do the following: in December, right as I was getting off Tysabri, I got an MRI to see where I was as a "baseline". That MRI came back pretty much normal—no active lesions, no current activity. Then, I was to get another MRI in March to see how I was handling the new medication. Well, I started feeling some very minor symptoms on March 12th, so I called my nurse. She decided to wait on steroid treatment through the weekend, then see how I was doing. The following Monday I wasn't doing significantly better, but neither was I doing significantly worse, so we decided to wait on steroids until after my MRI, which I would schedule for as soon as possible. The unfortunate thing was that I couldn't schedule an MRI until the following Monday. Well, by that Thursday I was not okay with waiting anymore, so I left work at 3pm and a home nurse came out to try to get an IV in me. Anyone who's familiar with my MS drama knows the song and dance so I won't belabor the tragic point: she couldn't get a line. Then we couldn't call it in to Boulder Community Hospital, so I was going to have to go in to my hospital the following day (making me miss work). Well, because that's what I had to do, I did it. Then, I had the MRI Monday, and went back to work Tuesday. I was feeling very discombobulated, irrational, out-of-sorts and obsessive and was just about freaking out when I got a call from my nurse saying that I needed to come in to the ER as soon as possible to try to get looked at, because my MRI results were very worrying.

So... I went to the ER. 4+ hours later they sent me home with instructions to come back the next day for another steroid infusion—4 days this time. (All to be done at home, except for the installation, of course.) They also told me that I should be out of work until at least the following Tuesday. Then, the next Monday, the 22nd, I had an appointment with my neurologist himself.

Storm #7
Back to work issues—because of my time out of the office, I was terrified that Shelly would fire me for performance if I did come back on Tuesday the 23rd. The way I figured it, it would be good for the company if she did—I'm sure they would love to not have to pay my insurance premiums. So I was trying to decide whether I should take short term disability leave even if I didn't "need" it so that I could have 90 days guaranteed insurance & partial pay, or if I should do the "honest" thing and go to work and risk the "punishment" that Shelly might dole out; losing my job, which would include all income (rather than partial), any form of insurance coverage, and my home. (Of course, on the other hand, she may not fire me, in which case, I'd be making my full income, which would have been a good thing considering, well, all of the other pending issues. But even if she hadn't fired me right away, she could fire me at any time...)


You see how A Perfect Storm has nothing on me?

The resolution of this story is predictably tame: Everything's working out for the best. Dr. Vollmer said that I'm suffering from steroid withdrawl and Tysabri rebound, and that I won't be back to "baseline" for around 90 days anyway, so I'm taking all the STD that I need, and if everything works out well, I'll go back to work at the end and maybe Shelly won't hate me then. But even if she does, a lot of the pressure will be off me for being employed anyway. I will keep everyone up to date with the house hunt. ^_^ Also, I want to shout out to Hanna, Lilly, Fletch and Christina, who were all in town for some of this drama and were patient and loved me anyway. Particularly Fletch, the immortal chauffeur. *hugs* What would I do without my friends? I love all of you... A domani, tutti.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today's adults were NOT yesterday's kids... WTF???

This is outrageous.

I don't understand the movement towards installing your children in figurative plastic bubbles to protect them from the world. I mean, I would understand actual plastic bubbles—that actually offers real, physical protection. But... disallowing trick-or-treating? Banning books? Particularly the dictionary?! It's the same concept as banning guns—pretty soon, the only people who have books are the ones with all the power over the children.

I mean... if removing a child's access to words removed the things those words meant (ie, if you don't know the words "oral sex," then oral sex doesn't exist), then I could see some limited advantage to banning books. (But really, we shouldn't be removing oral sex from people's lives. Why would you?!) But this particular censorship technique results in the kids who don't have dictionaries or internet access or horrible-but-kind older siblings at home don't know what the phrase "oral sex" means... but that doesn't stop more informed (or pervy) peers from trying to take advantage of them and get them to put their mouths on the peers' genitals.

Anyone who watches action or mystery movies knows that knowledge is power. Similarly, ignorance is weakness. If a person knows what oral sex is, then a peer seeking to take advantage of them can't tell them it's something different, like a game, an experiment, or a joke. (See Competence: Law & Order SVU episode.) To be educated & informed is not to automatically be tainted or impure; it simply helps to prevent 1) miscommunications 2) looking (and being) completely ignorant 3) and people taking advantage of your ignorance.

I remember being younger (I don't remember what age I was, unfortunately)—my family had an unabridged dictionary. I spent lots of happy minutes (I was a kid, I didn't have that much attention span) looking up dirty words and stuff before realizing that I was having fun looking stuff up in the dictionary. Some amount of time after that, I hear the phrase "chicken hawk" on SNL, and had to know what it meant. So... I looked it up in my unabridged dictionary. And I learned what it was (slang-wise... I already knew about the bird). And I went "oh, huh, I feel informed now." It didn't immediately make me want to be (or be a victim to) an older gay man. Similarly, despite the positive slant the book Where Did I Come From puts on sex, having it read to me as a little kid didn't make me immediately want to go have sex.

Banning all things that make some reference to "intimate parts" or sexuality is simply unrealistic and, in the end, very harmful to learning children. For example, I have several or many friends whose first porn was National Geographic. That's obviously not the recommended use for National Geographic... but man. Horny pubescent kids will turn ANYTHING into porn. Don't victimize the good stuff because of it! Damn people.