cough cough hack

The Common ColdASK ME HOW LONG I HAVE BEEN SICK. Go ahead. Ask.

THREE WEEKS.

…And counting. (I know this because I was juuuust coming down with a funny little cough when I started Health Month on the 1st. Ha ha, I thought, how funny that I should have a cough that coincides with starting Health Month! It has only gone downhill from there.)

Despite the fact that I have allergies and asthma and migraines and ovarian cysts and – need I go on? I’m almost never sick with a cold or flu for very long. I know, it’s ridiculous, but there you go. My immune system is mighty, as long as it is not confronted with pollen or tree mold.

Ever since the kid started preschool I’ve been catching more colds/flus/whatever – because, let’s face it, small children are disease factories – but I still usually only sit around feeling miserable and snuffly for a couple of days before I’m up and about again.

NOT SO THIS TIME.

This time, I’ve been so tired I can barely get out of bed, coughing so much my ribs hurt, and having to suck on my inhaler two or three times a day just so I can breathe. This time, my lungs make noises typically reserved for malfunctioning engines. This time, every time I start to think I’m getting better has ushered in YET ANOTHER round of the sort of coughing that has strangers asking me (from a safe distance) if I’m going to be all right. So this has been…interesting, if by interesting you mean purgatorial and annoying and vaguely infuriating.

I am getting better, of course – the rocky Kathleen Turner voice has been replaced by my normal valley-girl chirp, and the cold air from the snowpocalypse-that-wasn’t didn’t make me feel like I was trying to breathe underwater. SO. YAY.

But I will still be VERY glad when I can make it through a whole day without needing a nap.

cracking

Even though you can't see it, that finger? HURTS.
I am not flipping anyone off in this picture, but you can still see my poor wilting middle finger.

So I messed up my finger a couple of weeks ago. The left index one. I guess I cracked it sideways while I was lifting something? Sounds like a thing I would do, and in fact was a thing I did. Also: ow.

My point being, it still hurts, internet. Still. And I can’t crack it without blinding pain, which is just ridiculous, seeing as I am addicted to knuckle-cracking. Also, did I mention it HURTS? It hurts when I type. It hurts when I hold hands with my kid. It hurts when I point. IT HURTS WHEN I FLIP PEOPLE OFF. (Also, my middle finger – which isn’t even the one I hurt – doesn’t stand straight anymore. It sort of…wilts.)

Is this what getting old is like? BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE IT AT ALL.

so. and stuff.

Yeah, so that whole ‘ulcer’ thing? Not so much. Gastro Doc and his Snaking Cameras of Doom went in and found…nothing. A perfect set of innards, with nary a blemish. A week later the blood work came back with the all-clear as well.

So, um…good?

I mean, good, obviously, but you know what would be better? If I didn’t still hurt so goddamn much. Seriously, figure out a) why I’m in so much pain every couple of weeks and b) how to make that not happen anymore, and I will be in a really fucking good mood. I promise.

(Actually I’m in a pretty good mood currently…but still.)

fun with ovarian cysts

So, you caught the ref to my emergency room adventure in the last post, huh? Yeah. As it turns out, ovarian cysts can feel a lot like appendicitis, only – surprise! – they’re just a totally benign set of baubles, hanging out in my ovaries and making me want to die. I bet my face was red! And not just from the morphine!*

It turns out I’ve got hemorrhagic cysts, which typically reabsorb or something, but in my case have merely proliferated and grown fat and lazy. They’re harmless, if by “harmless” you mean “extremely painful but not actually going to kill me.” Ask me how much I like the idea that my body spontaneously creates things which cause me excruciating pain! Because, seriously.

And it wasn’t like I’d planned on spending the first full day of my New York vacation being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance while I sent a pain-muddled text to my poor friend, due to meet me any moment, saying “I’m so sorry I can’t meet you but I’m on my way to the emerg room w/ severe abdom pain” – which, I would like to point out, is NOT THE SAME AS SPENDING THE AFTERNOON AT MOMA, thanks a lot, ovaries.

hospital IV

*Have I mentioned I don’t like morphine at all? I mean, yes, it took away the brunt of the pain, which was definitely of the good, but it gives me the spins something fierce and just makes me want to sleep for about five years, which isn’t exactly helpful when hospital-folk want questions answered in a competent manner. Then again, my gasping in agony wasn’t exactly helpful, either.

above my means

Zen as I might be about socioeconomic status, there’s still a part of me that gets off on being able to Afford Things. Nice things. Things like my prettypretty BlackBerry Pearl or our multitude of Apple products. That part of me really, really wants to join this snooty athletic club that’s $100 a month and totally, completely impractical. But they totally offer childcare, and the idea of paying someone to watch my kid while I take a yoga class? Compelling. (See, because when I leave him with Not So for no reason except that there’s something I ‘want’ to do, I always feel guilty. Yes yes, I know, therapy would help with these things. But – another reason to feel guilty! You see my dilemma.)

big boy bedI’m starting to feel a little bit like our lives are getting managable, which – hey, there’s a reason I take meds, you know? When just getting out of bed in the morning seems huge and untenable, it’s kind of a big deal to think that things might actually be okay, kind of. It was cleaning the house that did it. We’ve got this great apartment that I love unreasonably (well, except for the permeating smell of Rice Junkies that greets me every morning), but it’s jammed so full of stuff that it might as well be a storage unit. But Not So went all MacGyver on the stuff in Ellison’s room this weekend, so not only is all our old crap hidden successfully in the closet, we finally got to assemble the kid’s toddler bed! And, dude, don’t even get me started on how exciting it is to think that someday in the possibly near future I may be able to sleep through the night again. In any position I want. I can barely contain my potential bliss.

Next step is to get our room whipped into shape. This is a bit more complicated than it sounds, since we’re waiting to be able to afford these cheap-but-cute wardrobes from Ikea so that I can stop keeping my clothes in a big ol’ Rubbermaid storage bin and actually explore the idea of drawers.

a rant, just in time for the holidays

You want to know one of my pet peeves? The idea that there is a certain type of person who is poor. Because everyone knows that economic status defines who you are, the things you enjoy, the caliber of your intellect. Right?

Kings CanyonI was trailer trash. Those kids running wild in the mobile home park with their dirty feet and their ratty clothes? I was one of them. We weren’t even financially solvent enough to own our own trailer. We rented, and we rented the cheapest trailers we could find, which were somewhat…less than posh. I rocked the louvered windows with the hand-crank. I was accustomed to the entire house moving when someone walked from one room to another. I was dutifully impressed by the weird indoor-golf green that covered the “porch.” I shared a mattress (box springs were a luxury, but sometimes we’d find them behind someone’s dumpster – lucky day!) with various siblings, often sans sheets because hey, who had money for laundry?

And that’s just the nice parts.

You know what else I was? Smart, artistic, talented. I was in the GATE program. I read constantly. I was accepted into the Johns Hopkins Program for Gifted Students when I was ten, after scoring the prerequisite over-1100 on my SATs. Is that incongruous? Because…I was poor, right? That meant I must have had bad grammar and enjoyed brawling and graffiti. And possibly marrying my cousins.

I don’t get how people can be so casually judgmental about the poor. I was part of a conversation recently in which a woman was talking about how dirty – physically covered in dirt – the kids were at an elementary school out in the sticks, and the other person (I am being intentionally vague) replied “That sort of thing comes from the home. They must have learned it from their parents.”

Okay, what? I’m sorry, do you honestly believe that the parents of impoverished children actually teach their offspring to be dirty? Or are you suggesting that the parents are just too lazy to teach their children to wash?

Because, when I was a poor kid (and I am aware that my situation was much, much better than some) there were times – months, sometimes – when we couldn’t afford propane, and that meant no stove (we cooked everything with an electric frying pan), no heat, no hot water. Bathing in cold water? Not a hell of a lot of fun, especially in winter. Did I wear my hair in a ponytail for the better part of seventh grade so that no one could tell I hadn’t washed it? Yes, yes I did. Did it work? Uh…

When our clothes were dirty, it wasn’t because we were ignorant of the inner workings of the laundromat or too busy watching daytime TV to wash them. It was because we could either have clean clothes or eat that week, and I’ve got to tell you, eating won out pretty much every time.

Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of stupid, ignorant, horrible people who perpetuated the poor-people stereotype. But you know what? There are plenty of stupid, ignorant, horrible people who make a decent living. Money (or lack of it) doesn’t dictate how intelligent or free from prejudice you are.

And yeah, we were on welfare. You know what welfare gets you? Not a hell of a lot. As a family of four (three kids plus a father) we got around $200 in food stamps a month, plus a few hundred dollars for rent and utilities. The food stamps? Always gone in the first two weeks. Always. The money? Gone even faster.

Kids are expensive. Food is expensive. Gas is expensive. It didn’t matter how we economized or what we spent the money on – sometimes you’ve got to feed your kids meat so that they get enough protein, and if there’s a baby in the family, you needed diapers. Or shoes. Or coats. We bought our clothes at thrift stores and counted our pennies at the store, but – look. Take my word for it. It wasn’t enough.

We always had to supplement our income by setting up a stand at the flea market and selling cameras my father had refurbished, which meant we were always looking over our shoulders because the welfare department? Does not allow supplemental income. And then sometimes the cameras wouldn’t sell, and we’d be out of food or unable to pay our rent, and my dad would have us call his mother (who he refused to speak to) and beg for money, and…it sucked. And we still ended up without propane, or eating nothing but bread for a few days, or having to pack our stuff in the middle of the night and move.

It sucked, but it’s not like we were doing it on purpose. It’s not like we had a choice. We weren’t stupid, and we weren’t lazy, and we weren’t bad people. We were just poor. I’m not a better person now because I can afford to pay my rent and wear nice clothes. I’m just luckier.