Thursday, March 29, 2007

Her love is better than titanium

My new titanium glasses frames, which were supposed to survive any fall, performed poorly in their first test last night. Claren, however, continues to excel at the important things.

I fell last night, trying to get from the floor to my wheelchair. I wound up planting my face squarely on one of Claren's rugs. I smashed my nose and let out a groan because my nose is sensitive lately because of allergies. My glasses bent so one earpiece falls on the outside of my ear.

The groan had hardly finished when I felt something on the back of my head and heard sniffing. I rolled over and there was Claren, just checking me out. She then laid down right next to me. There was nothing she could actually do, but that was one of the greatest services she has ever performed. I didn't mind that I was picking hair out of my mouth until I went to bed because I had landed on her rug.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Every second of the night I live another life

I woke up this morning in the aforementioned puddle of sweat with an aching head, an exhausted body and some general dizziness. I chalked it up to allergies, a shift change at work and stress. As I was feeding Claren, though, I realized why I was tired: I had so many dreams last night. They kept pouring out of my head all day.

Since I was working late, I went back to bed and was no more awake when I woke up later. While I was in the shower, I realized my problem: I had forgotten to take my evil happy pills. I took them and was OK for most of the day but still exhausted.

Here are my dreams; tell me I don't have a right to be tired? The dreams are not in chronological order because I don't remember them flowing into one another. And I do not think this is all of them.

• There was a meeting with a PR person from Toyota, Nissan and I think Renault, one person each. The meeting was held at my grandmother's dining room table. I think the third automaker was Renault because the PR person was a red-headed woman with a French accent. She was not very good either. The Nissan guy was Arabic but some papers he gave us said he was Sudanese. The papers also said Sudanese was a religion and he believed in Jesus or Santa Claus, I can't remember which. The Toyota guy was generally a jerk and way confident. He was Caucasian. But I liked the little PR video he showed; it featured Spider-Man 3.

After the meeting we went back to work, of course in gram's living room. I was sitting on the floor in front of my boss, who was on a loveseat. He said the move to the living room was a temporary switch because of the PR meeting.

• I also dreamed I was back at my college newspaper. I don't remember much except they redecorated and took away my desk.

• Briefly, I dreamed of running over Claren's pinch collar and picking out clothes for work. I don't remember why but the clothes thing was real involved.

• I was in a choose your own adventure book, and I got to see both endings. It involved this grifter couple who weren't really bad, but they got mixed up with the wrong crowd and I was trying to save them. I was gritty and chiseled (maybe like Brad Pitt). I was also tied to a chair and a cop was interrogating me. The grifters were there and so was the really bad guy. I was forced to choose how to answer the cop's questions. If I answered them correctly, it suggested I was guilty of this bad thing they were doing. I wasn't. But if I was honest the real bad guy might stand up, shoot me, the cop and the grifters.

At first I chose to answer the questions correctly and that scenario ended with the cop shooting the bad guy right in the forehead. I triumphed the other way, too, but I forget how. Both times the story ended with the woman grifter killing her partner and leaving him slumped over the steering wheel in a car across the street from my parents.

• Finally, I dreamed Anna Kournikova lived below me when I worked in North Carolina. Why as ritzy tennis star would live in North Carolina, let alone Winston-Salem, let alone that apartment complex is beyond me. She also was not happy, just waiting for some nice journalist to come in and swoop her off her feet.

What does it say about my self-esteem that I don't even get the girl in my dreams? I followed the story online of how Anna found love with a freelancer who wrote about it.

I sort of want to skip my pills every so often now just for a thrill.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thanks, I guess

My dad got some good news about his prostate cancer today: It doesn't seem to have spread anywhere. I am so happy, but am I supposed to thank God?

I would not be supposed to blame him if the cancer had spread. (Notice I said "supposed to." I totally would.)

And I don't blame God even though I sit in a wheelchair. (Usually. I do blame him for related things, but not the disease itself. Usually.)

Maybe God is like Batman or any superhero. You thank him when he saves you from the Joker's clutches. But you aren't supposed to blame Batman when the Penguin robs you while he is out fighting the Riddler.

I am sure it is more complicated than that, but that idea works for me. For the moment.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Calliope of crippledness*

A bunch of disability things happened today, well two or three anyway.

The chaps would not have helped this morning. I lost my balance when I was putting my shoes on and slid down the front of my wheelchair. This hurt, but in good news, maybe the odd marks on my back will make me more interesting to coroners. They'll think I was into ritualistic mutilation or something.

My driver today told me about his dogs: Satan, the pit bull that climbed trees, the Husky and the Chow-Rottweiler mix.

When I was riding up the elevator after lunch, a kind woman hit the open door button to give me time to get out. But she hit the close door button so the doors sloammed into my chair.

Good times.

* -- It could have been an "assload of ataxia," but I think the chaps post probably exceeded the ass quota, especially since mom reads this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just call me Chappy

I love taking showers.

I am almost always cold, so a hot shower is more fulfilling than anything. And I don't like being stinky and grungy, so a shower is a real plus there, too.

Lately, though, I have been too tired to shower on the weekends, mainly if I am not going anywhere that day. It is just too hard.

Taking off my clothes is a pain, and I try to speed it up by doing silly things, like pulling all my shirts off at once, even if I am wearing three. That is just asking to fall, I know, or wobble into a wall. I can't fall because I am still buckled into my chair. And I wobble into walls just taking off one shirt, so I figure two or three at once is not a whole lot more dangerous.

The hardest part of my bathroom striptease is my pants. I don't like to sit in my chair in the nude because I am so dainty and don't want my chair to dirty up. Yes, I am silly. If you were to see me in the bathroom trying to step out of my pants, you might change that silly to flat-out stupid. I wouldn't gainsay you.

Then I have to step into the shower, which is a tub/shower. I could have the side removed from my tub to make getting in easier, but I sometimes need to sit in a bath for my delicate fanny.

Once I am in the shower, things are OK … unless the shower curtain brushes my foot, which sets off hilarious jerks throughout my leg; the water gets too cool, which means I have to turn it up but oh damn, I turned it up too much; I drop the soap, which is not an issue of someone waiting to ravish me, it is just hard to pick up. There are many other unless's, but I'd run out of hot water naming them all.

Then, of course, I have to repeat the process to get out, except I can sit my delicate fanny on my chair because it, my fanny, is clean.

Getting dressed is easier than getting undressed actually. I think it is because I take more time getting dressed. The main problem, again, is my pants. I need to pull them up, but I am sitting down.

A lightbulb or two just went off. I know the answer: assless chaps or a nudist colony. The problem with a nudist colony is that things could get caught in the spokes of my wheelchair. Of course, I mean my toes. So assless chaps it is, and I will be able to shower plenty if I am chapped up.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Prepare for glory! And wheelchairs?

I saw 300 yesterday, just Claren and I. It was awesome, except that King Leonidas sounds a little too much like Sean Connery. I kept expecting the Spartan leader to turn to one of the 300 and ask for a martini, "shaken, not stirred." But I totally want to be a Spartan when I grow up.

That presents a bit of a situation because Spartans don't seem the most understanding people when it comes to physical ailments. The movie said they killed babies that looked weak or infirm.

What would they do with me? I looked OK at birth, a little white hair but nothing bad. However, I grew to become infirm.

Probably, they'd just off me.

But maybe, just maybe they'd let me live and they would see the strength and vigor and zest that surges through even the most twisted of bodies. I could be responsible for growth in Spartan society; I could be the king!

Nah, they'd just off me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are you honkin' at me?

I have to walk in the streets for various reasons. Sometimes, even though it is 65, snow blocks the curb cuts because the pleasant people of my town don't own snow shovels. Other times, the town or businesses close the sidewalk for work or just for reasons unclear. Still other times, the sidewalk just ends -- no curb cut, no nothing. If my destination lies beyond the sidewalk end, it is the streets for me.

Tonight, though, I was just lazy.

I was tired of riding down sidewalks; every single crack rattles me. Going up and down curb cuts is jarring; and the sidewalk is narrow when I am with my dog.

So on the way back to my condo, I stayed in the street. I was in a right-turn only lane, and I was very visible. In fact, I was visible enough for a driver to honk his horn really loudly at me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fill 'er up

I have not gotten myself hot water from the coffee maker at work since "the incident."

No one actually forbade me, but I'm just not allowed because of the blown-out-of-proportion incident. Of course, I helped blow things out of proportion by fainting, but I will go to my deathbed claiming that the fainting was a result of the out-of-proportion blowing.

All the coffee makers at work have a spigot for just hot water, which I need every morning to satisfy my raspberry tea fix. All the coffee makers are also at the same height, just reachable if I extend my arms fully. I could fill my cup; the problem was checking whether it was full and trying to pour more water in if needed.

One day as I was checking my cup, my arm jerked and I threw the water in my face. This was painful but not as bad as it sounds. The water is not boiling. It hurt, but I am sure I have had hotter water on me in the shower.

I was putting a cold towel on my face and wiping up the floor when a cleaning woman saw me. I told her I was fine, but she d got one of my co-workers. I told him I was fine, but he got my boss. I told my boss I was fine, but he wanted me to go to the clinic. I said I was planning on it in a minute, but he insisted I go right then.

The nurse wasn't there yet, but my boss scrounged up some ice packs for me. Soon after, I told him I needed to lie down. The nurse had the key to the rooms with beds so I just got down on the floor, which was where the nurse found me.

If someone had believed me that I was OK, I am sure I would not have fainted.

Since then, my boss has gotten me water. This is fine with me ... usually.

There are the busy days or days when I am late when I don't get water until after a morning meeting half an hour or more after I get there.

There are the days he is off when I have to find another water bearer.

There are the days he out is sick, and I worry about him having spread his germs to my cup.

He went home sick Tuesday. All I can think about is how he got my water Tuesday morning. If I get sick, I am so asking for a lower coffee maker to be installed.

Don't try wheeling a wheelchair with your eyes shut. It is beautiful out here, but that means my allergies are rotten. I was also really tired. I went for a walk on the track around this pond thing at my work. I say thing because it is pretty nasty: chemical smells, algae, mud, etc. I closed my eyes for a bit as I wheeled, and opened them as I was going down the slope to the pond. I managed to get back on the track and get my eyes open for the rest of my walk.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sad about happy pills

I hate antidepressants. One might even say that I find them depressing.

I can't stand that if I miss a dose or try to cut back on my happy pills, my body and world feel like they are going to fall apart.

This was my chief beef with the movie "Garden State." Zach Braff's character could not have done all he was supposed to do after giving up a long-term antidepressant. I tried to cut my dose to two pills from three and wound up in bed for the better part of four days.

Another thing about "Garden State": In my 15-plus years going to neurologists' offices, I have never seen someone as cute and fun as Natalie Portman. Generally, the neuro audience is older people and kids with parents. Of course, I am not talking about the staff. I have a type of Florence Nightengale syndrome: I totally have crushes on pretty much every woman doctor or nurse I have ever met. And let's not even talk about the PTs, OTs and other therapists. Sigh. (For the record, I don't have a crush on my primary care physician; she's just really cool.)

I hate antidepressants' side effects. The reason I tried to cut my dosage was because I was tired of waking up in a puddle of sweat. I know there are more side effects: bladder issues, headaches, intestinal issues, sexual ones (sexy ones would be OK but no ...). And I have tried other types of antidepressants to get rid of the side effects. Either they do not work or they make me sweat.

I don't like being addicted to things. One Christmas eve I forgot to take my pills. On Christmas, I made it through the morning, then felt bad all afternoon, then realized in the evening why my ears were ringing, I felt like throwing up and crying. My mom assures me that it is not a sign of addiction but of how much my brain needs the chemicals in the pills to work right. I am sure there is an important difference there, but the upshot is I can't not take my pills.

Most of all, though, I hate that there are days like today when I know I need to take my happy pills, even if taking them makes me unhappy

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Goin' back to Cali ... I don't think so

Sometimes I'd like to move to California, somewhere like San Diego, where the weather is always beautiful. I'd need good public transportation, too, to get to work, and maybe a condo in a town center thing so shopping is near at hand.

I have a cousin who lives in Los Angeles, but other than him and another cousin in Colorado, my family is all on the East Coast.

That is kind of the point.

I am tired of relying on my family members to do so much for me like driving, shopping, etc. I know they don't mind, but I do.

They all have spouses and children and just whatever goes on in their own lives. I wish I didn't require them to help me so.

I figure in California I will do without because I won't have family. This will be hard, but maybe I will be wheeling down Rodeo Drive one day, and some BH-Niner will fall in love with me, we'll shack up, and her butler or maid will do everything. She'll be smokin' hot, too.

I'll never do this, though. I am too selfish and I love my family too much. And it wouldn't actually be "goin' back to Cali." I have never been there.

On another note: I almost died today. It is in the mid-60s, and the culprit was snow.

The folks in my town are not the best at clearing snow. One of their tricks is to pile it all into curb-cuts, so the curb-cuts take forever to clear.

I made it down the one snowy curb-cut and made it to the comic book store. It was awesome although they were sold out of the Captain America dies issue.

On my return trip, however, I was going up the curb-cut slowly, but my right wheels fell of the sidewalk. I balanced there for a bit and then tried to go backward down the curb-cut. My anti-tip wheels got stuck in the pavement, though, so I could not move. Finally, the anti-tip wheels gave a little so I got down fine.

I wondered what the people in the cars watching thought. They were treated to quite a drama. I wonder if they knew.

A family of a deceased man who settled a negligent death lawsuit with Washington D.C. for a task force to resolve the negligence that led to the death. That was lovely to read about. I hope my family bankrupts my little town if I die.

Friday, March 9, 2007

I always have to deal

My dad has prostate cancer.

He got the official diagnosis today, but I have been preparing for the news since he first mentioned some potential trouble. I mean his dad also had prostate cancer, so I just assumed ...

Dad told me and my little sister that he wasn't going to die tomorrow or the next day or anytime soon. But I don't like anything that reminds me of the mortality of my dad. He is a wonderful father and my chief chauffeur. He does things that I know he doesn't want to do just because I ask him to. For some reason, a lot of these things have to do with animals.

I told my mom last night that I knew we would deal with whatever happens because that is what our family does. But, I said, it makes me mad that we don't have a choice in the matter. We have to accept and deal with things. Just once, I want to be able to say, "Thanks, but you know what, I really don't want to have that anvil dropped on my head."

I guess it doesn't work that way, though. You can refuse to deal with something; lord knows I am Cleopatra's consort in many things. But denial is really not much help; eventually, you just have to go on. What other option do we have?

So we deal with it, whether it is anvils or prostate cancer or Freidriech's ataxia.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

UNH! Trying to think of a title

There I was, standing in the bathroom stall at work, when it hit me. Yes, standing. That is how I pull up my pants. I stand up holding on to things, get as good a balance as possible, bow my head in prayer, wedge bowed head into the corner of the stall and use my then-free hands to pull up my pants. Actually, my head is bowed as if in prayer, but from now on I will say a little prayer to Vaast.

I realized that my entire life sounds like the Saturday Night Live skit "At home with Moncia Seles." I think that was the name. It was on when Seles was big and she was famous for grunting with each shot. The actress portrayed Seles grunting as she opened the refrigerator, grabbed the orange juice, etc. It was funny then.

Now, I am now so sure.

As I do pretty much anything, signs and grunts escape my lips. Getting into my wheelchair, getting out, sliding to the floor to brush Claren, getting in bed, turning out the lights. Really, I just need to stop before I name every physical action of my day.

Just let me save this and close my laptop. Unhhh.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What a ride!

I feel like I should call my paratransit provider and thank them for doing their job today. I got to work on time, and we even picked up another customer. Of course, I glanced at his destination and saw it was nowhere hear where I went, so he was probably calling to complain today.

I know it is selfish, but after last week I don't care too muh about my fellow passengers.

On Monday, my driver picked me up about 7:15 and we left about 7:20 to make another pickup. The other passenger lived about 5 minutes away and had an 8 a.m. pickup. So I sat in the van for 20 minutes before the other client came out.

On Wednesday, my driver picked me up and we left by 7:15 to get another client, this one had an 8:15 a.m. pickup and lived 10 minutes in the opposite direction from where I was going. My ride on Wednesday took almost 2 hours. For a trip that takes 30 minutes.

Friday's ride was just plain wrong. We drove past my destination to pick up another rider. Then we dropped him off before me even though we drove past the road to my destination again. Actually, we did not drive exactly past my work on the way to pick up the other client because the GPS sent the driver on a ridiculously out of the way route that included a rush-hour packed 66.

So it's like that song from "An Officer and a Gentleman": "Who knows what tomorrow brings?"

Saturday, March 3, 2007

LAM of God

Sometimes, I am certain the designer of the building I work in is my truly arch-nemesis, not my 3-year-old niece.

During the building of the complex, I can see the designer and a few others sitting around a smoke-filled back room, playing cards and asking one another, "How can we annoy Matt?"

I don't mean MC Escher stairways; that would be illegal. I am talking about counters that are just the wrong width, tables that are the wrong height, the well-detailed auditorium issues, the bathrooms and the like.

On Thursday, I brought a burrito to work for lunch, and this conspiracy theory again popped to the front of my brain. I am sure the cabal took measurements of my reach and then built the microwave shelf in every break room one-half inch less than my max. The result was on Thursday, as on every day I use the microwave, I stretched and contorted my arm to reach the buttons that would bring me steak-and-beany goodness.

How and when could they have gotten my measurements? Unless they drugged me ala some X-Files plot, the cabal might be bigger than just the builder.

Instead, maybe God gets together with the angels maybe or perhaps the other Trinity members and plays a favorite game: "Let's aggravate Matt," or LAM.

I could be a modern-day Job, and God said to the Devil: "Do what you will. Matt will never curse me."

Two problems: If Old Scratch were screwing me, I think the problems would greater than my dog scratching herself raw. Granted, the disability is a greater problem, but I keep telling myself that is genetics not anything else. The second issue, God saying I wouldn't curse him is just plain stupid. I mean I yelled at God when the stand for Moishe, a Wild Thing action figure, did not fit him correctly.

It is these aggravations that get me. Sure, facing a totally inaccessible b bathroom makes me cry, spit and curse immediately, but getting my wheelchair stuck in the mud one morning, followed by a ride to work where the driver ignores your directions, followed by a million other little things just take me out harder than tumbling down MC Eshcer stairs.

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