Tag Archives: illness

Some Sort of Broth with Pasta and Ingredients for the Sense of Self

I haven’t felt entirely well for months, though these past couple of weeks have been particularly trying. What with the constant call-outs at work, and my baseline level of stress, between matters domestic, financial, and existential, it’s a wonder that I haven’t collapsed well before. Last week I suffered from a bout of food poisoning, but it was only a matter of time before I fell before something a little more substantial.

Last month, following the factory fire in Richmond, I came down with a mild case of pneumonia, but I got over that fairly quickly, though I returned to work well before I should have.

This time, having been exposed to various illnesses from my employees, themselves suffering from the worst cold and flu season in recent memory, my body finally bowed to the inevitability of major illness. Even now, I feel that, instead of getting better, as my doctor assured me that I would, I am actually getting worse. But I know that one more day outside of work won’t actually do much more than cost me another eight hours of pay, and now that I’ve actually seen my primary care physician, I can communicate with her via the interwebz, and cut out the whole having to go to the doctor thing (which I hate).

All I have to do is make it through the end of the day on Monday without dying, and I’ll be okay.

I will say that the one advantage to a proper, physical illness is that it removes some of the oppressive strain of my bipolar disorder (diagnosed and verified) and anxiety (assumed, but I mean, come on). And, if you will mark this on your calendars, today marks the first day that my darling Wildflower has eschewed her traditional role of Master of mockery and insult and assumed a more loving and tolerant position.

Oh my god. Maybe she thinks I’m dying. This must mean that I actually look as terrible as I feel.

I was hoping to actually have something to say, but really this was just an exercise to gauge my mental faculties. It has been educational to say the least.

I now await my chicken soup with vegetables and (hopefully) twirly pasta, after the consumption of which, I can dose myself again with NyQuil and pass out into dreamless sleep.


Things have begun moving at a slightly uncomfortable pace, so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and slow them down again. I’m still hoping to hear back from Jupiter within the next few days, but, that being said, I’ve come to the end of the line at the Bear’s Lair. I had several reasons ready for walking away, but then something actually important came along and made the decision practically automatic. I may have been dealing with some things deep within my head these past couple of weeks, but all of that soul-searching came abruptly to an end when I spoke to my Wildflower this morning (though really, at that hour, it’s should still be considered night). She’d left work early because she’d been nearly crippled by a headache and an unending bout of dizziness (for those of you who knew me a few years ago, these were the same symptoms she was exhibiting when she had to go to the hospital (the end result of that visit was a night spent uncomfortably in the world’s most expensive hotel room (you try going to a hospital without insurance), absolutely no idea what was causing her discomfort, and a bill larger than my wife’s annual salary after taxes), and which have been reappearing at random intervals since then), but didn’t manage to actually get in to see a doctor at Urgent Care until a little after noon. And by that, I mean that she actually got to see a doctor sometime around two. Sadly, but not at all unexpected, the longest part of her medical journey (in terms of time, at least), was the part where she had to wait almost five hours to get her prescriptions from Walgreen’s (despite having been told that they would be ready in two hours, and then when we arrived two hours after that, being told that nothing had been done for either because her insurance wouldn’t cover one of the prescriptions (which was only $19.99). After I said that money (in that range, anyway) was no object, we were then told that it would be just a few minutes, and her name would be called. An hour later the actual pharmacist (not the register monkey) chided us for not picking up the prescriptions sooner…).

All of that, and the best that this doctor could tell her was that she was suffering from “stress” and that she needed to take a few days and relax. She was told not to return to work until the fifteenth of December, and to try to take it easy at home. Now, to tie this in with the swirling pageant of self-loathing to which I’ve been subjected recently, it did occur to me that it could, in fact, actually be stress, and that, as I wasn’t the lowest maintenance chulo on the block, perhaps I should test the maxim about setting someone free (for the record, when presented this idea, Wildflower informed me in no uncertain terms that she just couldn’t deal with my dramatic bullshit today, and to put a lid on it). Of course, I don’t entirely believe that mere stress is entirely to blame, but I’m no doctor, or at least that’s what they keep screaming at me every time I try to go behind the counter at the Clinic in an attempt to actually provide healthcare for people. Whatever. Of course, none of this explains why I began this post with talk of jobs in both the past and future tense, subtly, yet ubiquitously leaving out the present tense. Not being one for half-measures (the only things I halve are asses (and then, only in regards to determination and/or dedication), sandwiches), I cobbled together a plan in the time between conversations with my wife. If she is to rest, and I mean that she take an actual proper rest, then she cannot be burdened with a duty of care for the Monkey Man. Combine that with the news that my adult children will be house sitting for the next few weeks, and I really had no alternative: I will be looking after David (and subjecting him to Quality Time with Dad) until Flor either feels better, or cannot bear to listen to his whining any longer, and can stand up long enough to actually do something about it.

With only seven more days until the Lair is shut down for nearly one month, its employees subject to Seasonal Layoffs (a whole different column, I promise), I felt that it was unfair of me to have to ditch out for five of them (in the interest of fairness, I would have only been missing three days of work), and even then, not be able to guarantee my return, should my wife’s condition worsen. Couple that with the probability that someone from Jupiter will be calling back within the next three to eleven days (though, as always with my life, the job isn’t a complete lock), and I felt that I’d no choice but to make a clean break. Sure, I could have found some sort of corporate loophole through which to squeeze myself, and stuck it out until we closed, and then, per their instructions, register with the EDD for seasonal unemployment, just in case things didn’t pan out with Jupiter, but that just seems… I don’t know… petty. That, and my boss has been on me since Wednesday in an attempt to secure my commitment to return after the break. No, as much as the thought of repeating the Big! Lots! Boogie sends shivers down my spine (and not the good kind), I think that it was the right time to pull away. There are some good ideas coming to the forefront now, and I think that, after having exhausted almost all possible avenues of failure, there is a decent chance for at least some modest form of success. I do not know how many people will be returning in Mid-January, but I do know that there won’t be many, as most of them (of us) have quit. Again, that is probably for the best, as we have been burnt out, and if there is to be a new chance at success, with a new Captain at the helm, it must necessarily come to pass without us. What the Lair needs now is a Belief In The Ideal, and having seen the sausage made, not that many True Believers still remain. I do, however, wish them the best of luck.

Now, however, I am moving on to bigger and better things. I know that I was saying much the same one year ago, but nothing about my dream has changed, save, perhaps, for the geography. I don’t know how much time I will have before I must return to the daily grind of full-time employment, but I know that I must take advantage of this downtime, and write for all that I am worth. I am inspired once again (well, not at this exact moment, but that may have more to do with a perpetual sense of exhaustion which I have been carrying for the past few days), and there are some things that I know that I must get out while I can. And, as with most things of artistic merit, I really just want to show off a little. There’s nothing like trying to impress new friends to get the creative juices going. Time will tell if I have made the right decision, or if I somehow managed to bollocks it all up again. But since everything this past year happened at exactly the moment in which I needed it to happen, I’m going to keep on rolling with the punches. So here’s to the coming year, and here’s to the once which is coming to an end.

The Eyes Have It

No pun intended (this time), but I should have seen this coming. From the time when he was just seven and a half months old and stabbed me in the eye with his very first Valentine’s Day card, David William has had a… unique relationship with vision. We thought that after his spastic attack upon my cornea, that he would be done with eyeball-related crises, especially considering that I started wearing glasses, and for a few years we were right. But he’s always rubbing at them, and half the time we’re convinced that he needs to see an optometrist. Actually, I’m not entirely sure why we haven’t taken him. I should probably ask Flor about that. Regardless, however, it was only a matter of time until karma repaid him for his Valentine’s Day massacre of my right eyeball. It would have been more appreciated if he had been spending time with his grandmother or mother, as opposed to his former victim, but apparently that’s not how karma works. And so it came to pass that after I had gotten not nearly enough sleep so that I could wake up early so that I could get to work by four a.m., and then work four and a half of the most physically demanding hours in recent memory, walked home exhausted, and collapsed onto the bed to watch a little Netflix, he jammed his grubby little finger in his eye and deprived me of my chance to unwind a little. Come to think of it, I’m almost positive that he might have done it on purpose.

Shortly after I got back home this morning, he decided that it would be okay to run around the house and drag his knuckles on the kitchen floor while hiding beneath the kitchen table. And when I say drag his knuckles, I mean crawl around on all fours because I told him that he couldn’t drink his sister’s juice (which his mother wound up giving to him anyway). About ten minutes later, back in the room, after kicking up some dust, he ground his filthy little fingers in his eye to relieve the itching, and immediately exclaimed that his eye was hurting. We rinsed it out, and I took a look to see if it was an eyelash or other foreign body, but the only thing which I could see was a strange affectation of the eye which he had contaminated. The best I can describe it as is if he had a blister on his cornea. It was yellowish and translucent, and seemed to have collected toward the bottom of his eye. I’m not ashamed to admit that I may have freaked out a little. If he had hurt himself almost anywhere else, I would have felt comfortable enough to triage him to determine how much I could take care of here, or if we truly had to pay a visit to the clinic. Eyes, though, are not my bailiwick. Give me a fever, a cut, a sprain, and I am gorram Doctor House. Present me with damaged optic organs, and I am running to the nearest doctor’s house (not really their place of residence, I just liked the symmetry- bite me!).

I had already changed into my pajamas (because reasons!), and he hadn’t actually changed out of his, so it was a hectic dash to get us both properly dressed and out the door in timely fashion. Someone has been letting him leave the house in his pajamas because they don’t want to have an argument with him, and now he thinks that that’s okay. Which it isn’t. Because if I have to put on pants, he has to put on pants. I managed to get us both dressed fairly quickly, all things considered, and we were almost ready to run out the door, when David informed that he couldn’t find his other shoe, and that his eye really hurt. This, of course, was all that was needed to summon Lecture Dad (TM pending), who shimmered into being right where I’d been standing and informed David that if he left his shoes in the same spot every time he took them off (we have one of those hanging things of pouches for footwear adorning the inside of our bedroom door), he would always know where to find them, and that if he would wash his hands occasionally and quit picking at his eyes, he wouldn’t have gotten himself into his current predicament.

“This is the worst day ever!” he informed me. “Today is not going in my diary!”

“Be that as it may,” Lecture Dad (TM pending) replied, tired of his son’s shenanigans, “We’re going to the doctor, and they’re going to check out what’s going on in your eye.”

“But I want to play Xbox!” he began to whinge.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have jabbed your bacteria-laden digits in your eyes!

“But I don’t want to go to the doctor!”

Lecture Dad (TM pending) was having none of his son’s excuses, “Neither do I, but since your eye looks freaky, and you did it to yourself, we’re going.” I tossed the missing footwear in David’s direction, and said, “Here. Here’s your shoe. Put it on your foot, and let’s get going!”

“Okay, Dad.” David wiggled his foot into the remaining shoe, pulled on a jacket, and we finally managed to leave the apartment.

As I may have already mentioned these past few weeks, money is kind of tight. I mean, let’s face it: I didn’t get a job doing what I’m doing (for no hours at minimum wage) because the writing has been unbelievably profitable (actually, it has been unbelievably profitable, in that I’ve made $17 in royalties, and I frankly cannot believe that all my friends who said that they would by my stuff when it came out have somehow managed not to do so). So when David started in about not wanting to walk to the clinic (a sentiment with which I could relate, having done more exercise today than in all the six months in which I wasn’t working), I may have snapped at him a little. I was tired, my muscles ached, and I was fairly well and truly chapped in a couple of very tender areas, due to my superhuman ability to sweat normally for three average people, but only in my crotch. So we gimped along the twenty-minute walk up to the doctor’s office. The wind was blowing fiercely (as it always does in the wind tunnel which I’ve come to know as Not Quite Richmond, California), so I offered David my glasses to keep the random bits of debris from striking his already sensitive eyes. This, however, was not apparently enough, as halfway into our walk, he pulled his jacket over his head, and had me lead him the rest of the way as if he could not see (which he couldn’t).

We finally arrived at the clinic, which was filled with kids with stuffy noses and the like. I told the nurse that I needed someone to take a look at David, and, to her credit, she bumped us up to the head of the line. Like every visit, they checked his height and weight (it seems he’s not growing all that much), his blood pressure (perfect, according to the nurse), and temperature (within human norms), and then led us to a room. Normally, when the waiting room is filled like it was today, they make us go back out until it is our turn, but apparently my description of his eye was enough to make them want to keep him away from the other children. Not that it made the doctor see us any sooner. If there is anything I dislike more than having to take David to the doctor, it’s having to sit with him while we’re waiting for the doctor to see him. Look, I get it: no one likes to wait. What doesn’t help, however, is flipping out every fifteen seconds because it seems to be taking a little while for the doctor to arrive. Lecture Dad (TM pending) reminded David that if he had put his Kindle Fire to charge last night instead of leaving it upon the kitchen table, he would have had it ready to bring along with him when we went to see the doctor. Whinging Boy (TM also pending) did not seem to believe that point was relevant, but in an extremely high-pitched and aggravating manner.

Finally, the doctor tapped upon the door, and it was time to get down to business. Before I go any further, however, I need to share a minor point: I’m not sure how horrible a person that the following revelation makes me, but I tend to get a little skittish around doctors with a German accent. I know that there are medical schools in Germany (well, I don’t know, but I assume), and that to practice medicine in the United States, he has to have been able to prove that he knows what he is doing (in theory), but there is something deeply unsettling about an older man with blond hair and blue eyes, thick German accent, lab coat, and a stethoscope talking about medicine. He seemed to know what he was doing, however, as he agreed with my assessment of the situation entirely, and prescribed antibiotic drops for the affected eye. While he was preparing to send over the prescription to our nearest Walgreens, he took a page from the playbook of Lecture Dad (TM still pending), and told David William to make sure to wash his grubby hands with more frequency than he seems to be able to manage now, and to stop jabbing his filthy fingers into his eyes. I thanked Herr Doktor, and we were on our way.

As it turns out, those words of gratitude may have been uttered a tad prematurely, as by the time we’d made our way back to the pharmacy (narrowly escaping the Crazy Dude who’s been roaming around the city for the past several days, screaming at passersby, and trying to instigate a bout of fisticuffs), nearly twenty minutes later, the prescription still hadn’t been sent. Almost an hour later, with both David and I pushed to the limits of our patience, we finally picked up his bloody eye drops, and made our way back home. While we were waiting, I also picked up some more Children’s Claritin, in the hopes that maybe it was just a case of allergies which had inspired my son to endanger his vision, and therefore, I could protect his eyes from further damage with five millilitres of liquid loratadine a day. We got home to an empty apartment, and I informed my son that it was time for me to administer his medicine, the same medicine that I had previously advised him that he would have to have, and which he agreed to receive without throwing his standard-issue tantrum.

There are few things more damaging to the well-being of a parent’s psyche than the child who refuses to take his (incredibly important) medicine. It’s not one of those cases where you can just give into his fears, and not give him what he needs. I tried for nearly fifteen minutes to get him calm enough to sit still for the one drop of medicine which I had to put into his eye. I tried explaining it. I tried showing him what it would be like by squirting a dose into my eye. I attempted bribery and threats. He still refused to tilt his head back so that I could do what I had to. Finally, I had to hold him down and launch several drops down toward his eye (in the hope that at least some of the medicine would actually reach its target), all the while fighting off his flailing limbs and screaming in my ear. It reminded me of when he was just a little baby, and we took him for his vaccinations. The look of absolute betrayal frozen on his face as I had to hold him still while the doctor pierced his skin is still burned into my mind. He broke my heart today, just as I’m sure that I broke his, but at least his eye is now feeling better, and I’ve even seen him wash his hands a few times since we’ve gotten back. Presidenting may be hard, but it’s nothing compared to parenting.

I think I need a nap.