Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Best of Times

I am an aunt. My 8 lb. 3 oz. niece was born on July 25 at 1:29 pm. I'm overjoyed at the prospect of getting to spoil her rotten for the next 18 years of her life (and then some). My mom and I drove down to Houston as soon as we heard and met her Sunday evening, and I got to hold her.

Of course, as soon as she was put into my arms, I burst into tears.

That's how I roll, Dawg.


She's an incredibly lively baby, opening her eyes and looking around within hours of being born, kicking her little legs and moving her arms, amidst the motionless babies of the nursery born shortly before her. Amazing. The nurses all seemed as flabbergasted as my mom and I were. But then again, being the daughter of my sister, she's bound to be an over-achiever.

I kid! I kid!

As an aside, she was born at a hospital dedicated solely to women, so there were pregnant women everywhere. It was kind of... creepy. Something sci-fi about it, although I can quite pin down what it was. They moved around in big packs, too, with their mates alongside them. They give tours of the hospital to expectant moms on weekends. Crazy.

I also found out today that I am receiving a bonus on either Friday or Monday, which should be about the size of one of my paychecks (I hope).

Worst of Times

I have been placed on furlough. Without pay. My bonus and this next paycheck are the last ones I will receive until I am able to return to the office full-time, which is looking to be 2-1/2 or 3 weeks from now. Radio talked to me about it when I went into the office for an hour this afternoon (he caught me on the way out the door).

Then I talked to our book keeper, this afternoon, who informed me that I still had 60 hours of vacation left for the year (I have no idea how, unless I made up more hours than I realized for doctor visits) and about 30 hours of sick leave left.

I guess I underestimated the amount of work I've done during the past month I've been at home.

She told me I could use all that time towards the next couple of weeks I'll be out, if I need to. I think I won't, though, and I'll just live off the bonus and this next/last paycheck (I'm not going out, and not eating much in general, so expenditures are low, right now, with the exception of medical bills). God only knows what might happen post-op, and I want to be prepared in case I have to miss more work.

She also told me that they're going to go ahead and reimburse me the full amount that I paid towards the CT Scans (even though the whole amount might not be applied to the deductible at this time) because with the surgery, at least that much will be applied at some point, and they'll just figure it out from there. She was under the impression that I hadn't paid anything yet for the CT scans, so didn't realize I was already out almost $1000 that I'd have sitting on my credit card until the whole insurance debacle gets sorted out. So I'll get a check from the company next week, since I have to pay my credit card bill. She was much more understanding about the whole thing than I thought she would be, honestly.

At least the furlough won't change my insurance status, since I'm still technically employed. And the bonus will cover living expenses while I'm not getting paid. And I'll be able to pay off my credit card instead of racking up $130 in interest for the next month.

Always look on the bright side of life.
(Whistling) De-do. De-do-di-do-do-do.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Darling Elizabeth!

For the past few weeks, Radio has been admonishing me not to work too hard. When I reminded him that I was working at home during a one hour office visit on Friday, he shook his head and told me I needed to be resting and getting better. Although I've tried to work as much as I can, it's difficult to sit up in a position amenable to CAD-monkeying for very long, so one hour of working is followed by two of sleeping or, as you shall see, reading.

I went Tuesday to get a new book, chauffeured by my wonderful mother after (yet another) doctor's appointment. We went to Barnes and Noble, which is always frustrating for me, because I feel as though the books I should want to read there have already been read. I've covered almost all the biographies I wish to read that they carry, and their shelves always seem to be loaded with "chick-lit" clad in hot pink covers with terrible scripty fonts used for the titles. If I could bring myself to even touch one in order to read the synopsis on its back, I doubt sincerely if I could buy it, due to the lax level of craft with which I associate them.

I am in no way saying that my own writing is any better than Candace Bushnell's or Plum Sykes', but it is (particularly Plum Sykes - dear God, she can write an article for Vogue but she can't write a novel to save her life. If she's the future of literature, then I will live in the past, thank you).

And in the past, I have dwelt. I saw a decidedly pink book, but it was weighty - 600+ pages - and was part of the poorly copy-edited Barnes and Noble Classics line they publish (I think they get second year English students from Turkmenistan to copy-edit their books). The book was entitle Wives and Daughters and was written by one Elizabeth Gaskell.

I cannot believe it took me so long to become acquainted with Mrs. Gaskell. She was a contemporary of the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens, and was particular friends with Charlotte Bronte. Her books were serialized before being published as novels, and are, on the whole, much more interesting than I expected.

Wives and Daughters has a light hand to it, without all the superfluous verbiage I found distasteful when reading the Brontes (although I do like their books). I was incredibly pleased reading W&D...

Until I got to the end. And found to my dismay that the book is incomplete. Mrs. Gaskell died before writing the last two or three episodes of the serialization, so there is a brief eulogy at the end of the B&N edition that was written by the original publisher of the serial, laying out her intentions for the end of the book and praising her abilities as a writer.

I decided to read something else by Elizabeth Gaskell, and went to Borders this time (Barnes and Noble had only had the one book by her, and it's not even her most famous work, amazingly enough). Borders had five different stories she'd written, and I bought her most famous, Cranford.

I loved it.

It was written earlier than Wives and Daughters, and her style had not evolved into its state of clear, bright-eyed simplicity at that point, and was rather more like Charlotte Bronte's work, but it was a wonderful comedy of manners, lampooning the pretensions and affectations of small-town England during the 1840s. W&D carried some of this social satire, but mostly dealt with personal foibles, rather than the silliness of society at large (or at small, in this case).

Only imagine how much more delighted I am by the fact that the edition I purchased of Cranford is one of the newly designed and highly coveted Penguin Classics editions, bound in book cloth, and with a cover of Art Nouveau leaves and peapods embossed onto its surface. It was a challenge finding just the right spot for it on my bookshelves, but I triumphed in the face of that adversity. OCDesign strikes again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Insert Curse Words Here

That's pretty much how my day is going, today.

Wednesday, I started feeling slightly icky, and today, that ickiness became unbearable. No, we're not talking "reason for having surgery" icky, we're talking "completely new kind of icky that probably requires a dose of antibiotics." After a quick confab with Dr. W's lovely nurse, she suggested I go to the nearest Doc-In-A-Box to get some antibiotics, because we want me to be all healthy and ick-free for my surgery, now scheduled for August 5.

August 5, people. If you need an address for sending flowers, just let me know.


It was the longest Doc-In-A-Box visit of my life, since I'm apparently a fascinating specimen with oodles and oodles of problems, any of which, honestly, could have presented symptoms similar to the ickiness now pervading. But I know ickiness from yuckiness, and this was definitely ickiness, so I convinced the doctor it was ickiness, that I know what I'm talking about, and he prescribed a couple of medicines to help make the icks go away.

My insurance rejected one of the medicines, because I had the same medicine prescribed and that prescription filled less than 25 days ago. Nevermind that my body has chosen to need the same effing medicine again (and that I'm allergic to its over-the-counter alternatives), my insurance company refuses to pay for any part of it. The crossed their arms, frowned, and turned their disapproving backs on me.

I went ahead and paid for the (generic) medicine, because I have to have it, regardless of whether my insurance wants to pay for it.

In other words, I was already in a bad mood when I arrived home and discovered that they had refused one of my claims for a CT Scan; or, rather, their third party consultant had refused one f my claims. Not both of them, mind you, just one.

Abdominal: okay, you can have that one.
Pelvic: Oh no. That's asking too much.

I was angry, I was furious, I started crying. Then I opened the rest of my mail.


Riddle me this, dear reader: What the... duck?

I called the "We're open 24/7 call us with questions" number on the second letter (the one authorizing both procedures) and the young lady on the phone said that one of them had been approved, but not both.

"Except I have a letter stating otherwise," I replied.
"I have no idea why we approved it, and then they denied the claim, and they're not open right now, but if you call back Monday, we can call to find out."

Yeah, I'm sure that will really help. So I'll call Dr. L's business office on Monday to see if they've received the same letter (they're supposed to) and then I'll call the bast... the not nice people who denied my claim.

Now I'm freaking out, because I'm scared to death that they're going to deny my surgery claim, and that I might have to pay more than the $1000 out of pocket that I've already paid because we have a ginormous deductible.

The surgery to take place on August 5. I like calla lilies.

Dr. W's nurse said their business office will begin the pre-approval process on Monday so I should be all set for August 5, and hopefully all will go well. My dad will be taking me to have surgery, and he will stay home with me all day Friday. If required, we will find someone to stay with me on Saturday, or at least to drop me lunch or something, depending on how my recovery is coming along.

On the upside, I've officially, according to a doctor's scale, lost 10 pounds, which is more than I'd wanted to lose (about 5 pounds), but I'm not going to complain.

Looking really hard for that silver lining, right now...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Et tu, Brute?

My body has a bad habit. It is in the habit of rising up against me and stabbing me in the back right when everything seems to be going my way. (The only reason I'm saying this is because it gives me the excuse to look at pictures of a young Marlon Brando... who did not play Brutus, but he was in the film, okay? James Mason isn't nearly as much fun to look at.)

It seems like every year, we find something new that's wrong with me, physically. Now, if we were finding superpowers that meant I could attract metal objects to my hands using only the force of my mind, that would be okay (maybe... driving could be hazardous, though). But no, we keep coming up with things that require surgery.

Yes. More surgery.

And I was wrong about XXXXXX being what's wrong with me, because according to the more precise internal imaging tests I had done today, I don't have XXXXXX. At all. Because CT scans are apparently notoriously bad about showing up "false positives" for differences in tissues within organs. This in itself teaches us a very important lesson: Don't trust CaTs. Go with dogs, instead.

I do appear to have tissue growing where it's not supposed to grow, though, not in a cancerous kind of way, but in a "you're not supposed to play Legos in the dining room, take those back to the playroom" kind of way.

Playing Legos in the dining room still requires surgery, though.

So surgery it is.

The timing on this is terrible. My sister is due to give me a niece any day now, and here, I need to have surgery. I informed my mom that, if I happen to have surgery and my sister has the baby that same day, she and my dad can just throw me in the back of their minivan, dose me heavily with painkillers, and I'll meet my niece through a haze of opiates.

Heck, it's not like she'll remember the experience and hold it against me, and once she hits college, she'll probably find the whole episode amusing.

That is not, however, what I'm hoping will happen. Besides, my doctor can't perform the surgery until the week after my niece is due to join the big wide wonderful world, which one would think would be okay, right?

Except my mom is supposed to go stay with my sister the second week...

So after some discussion during much needed manicures and pedicures and then a little further discussion over Mexican food, my mom and I decided that we would request that my dad help out by taking care of me for a few days, if possible.

If he can swing it: awesome. If not: I'll just have to put off my surgery a little longer and hit my doctor up for an extension on the prescription for the painkillers she granted me (she was incredulous that Dr. L had given me nothing to alleviate the pain, and said it was "ridiculous.")

Right now, the only way I'm getting through the (half) day is by taking the painkillers. We have yet to see if I can make it a whole day. But four hours is better than two.

Maybe with Mr. Brando's help I can make it the full eight.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Potential Resolution

Friday morning, I received a phone call from my doctor's (Dr. L) nurse. She had the results of my CT scan.

"Nothing showed up that could possibly be causing what you're experiencing, although we did find XXXXXX."

Huh. Okay. She continued, "We can book you for an appointment with one of the other surgeons in the practice if you'd like a second opinion, or you can discuss this with Dr. W (note: the doctor who referred me to Dr. L and who would typically handle problems such as XXXXXX.)"

"I think I'll talk to Dr. W before I proceed," I replied and hung up the phone. I called Dr. W's office to make sure they had the results of the radiology report from the CT scan, and had Dr. W had a chance to look over them yet? Apparently not, according to the receptionist, why did I ask?

"Because the results, according to Dr. L, show that there's something there that Dr. W needs to have a look at." Two hours later, after a discussion of the radiology report, I had an appointment booked for this coming Monday, after the normal appointment hours.


I did a little research on my own. Dr. L's nurse said that XXXXXX couldn't be the cause of the debilitating pain I've been experiencing.

Oh, really, Dr. L? Apparently, she hasn't checked the Mayo Clinic's website recently, which references almost every symptom I've exhibited as potential symptoms of the condition I appear to have.


The good news is, according to The Mayo Clinic website (I'm addicted, now) and the National Institutes of Health website (their statistics are kind of broad, so I don't trust them as much), that there are multiple treatment options. The bad news is that almost all of them require surgery of some sort, and most of the surgeries are pretty drastic and have long recovery times.

More bedrest ahead, it appears.


But at least there is (possibly) an end in sight for my current problems, so I can quit whining about them on my blog and get to feeling better so I can get back to the important things in life, like the imminent arrival of my niece, and working 8-hour days in the office, and providing my coworkers with stories of romantic entanglements that make them shake their heads and remark how lucky they are to be married.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ecstasy of Pain

I had my spa day, today, and oh my goodness it was amazing.

When I called to book my services - a massage and a facial - the receptionist asked if I was okay with a male masseur. I said, "Sure," afraid that a negative answer would leave me unable to book my appointments ASAP. Plus, I reasoned, masseurs are just like doctors: they see bodies all the time, they're healers of a sort, and they don't view their clients like that.

Then I remembered that I don't have any male doctors because I'm uncomfortable with them poking around in places where they shouldn't be.

Oops. I decided to put my big girl panties on and deal with it in a mature and reasonable manner. This was made infinitely easier since my masseur, David, was a gay man who resembled nothing so much as a goateed Gorg from the late lamented show Fraggle Rock.

Seriously, he was huge. If not for the soft voice and the lisp, he would have made a great bouncer at a night club.

The massage involved some interesting conversations, mostly about what I could and could not tolerate and the state of my muscles.

David: What level of pressure do you like?
Me: Firm.
David: Is that too hard?
Me: Actually, you could press a little harder.
David: Huh.

And later...

David: Wow, you really weren't kidding when you said you had a lot of tension in your muscles.
Me: Nope. My office manager is a licensed massage therapist, and she's horrified at the state of my neck and back muscles.
David: (Exhaling loudly) I can see why.

Poor David was somewhat defeated by my knotted muscles, in fact. He confessed that he couldn't work out all the knots in one day ("and any massage therapist who tries that ought to be shot") because of the potential trauma to the muscles. But I am definitely looser. Sorer and looser. I am supposed to polish off a gallon of non-alcoholic fluid before I go to sleep tonight. I am halfway there. Time to get guzzling...

After my massage, I was escorted down the hall to where my facialist, Stephanie, awaited me. She looked more like a stereotypical spa employee. Actually, she looked like Halle Berry, haircut and all. And she did a killer job on my face, polishing and hydrating, and seruming, and exfoliating so that my face now glows like a halogen lightbulb.

My hair, following the facial, was another story entirely. I have had a facial once before, and my hair afterward was hilarious, sticking out in all directions. I was incredibly thankful for huge sunglasses and tinted car windows following that facial. I vowed to remember to take a hat with me next time I had a facial.

I broke that vow. I am an idiot.

I looked in the mirror as I was pulling on the fuzzy, warm chenille robe post-facial and realized that I was going to have to walk across Nordstrom with a slightly red face and hair that stuck out like a fright wig.

Mortification set in.

In the changing room, I formulated a plan: I would seek refuge in the restroom, wet my hair in the sink, and use some of the lovely hand towels they had there (terry cloth, no cheap paper towels in this establishment) to dry my hair, the way I do in the morning.

My plan worked pretty well, except my face was still red where it wasn't pasty-white or bruised-looking (under-eye circles, what?). There was nothing I could do about that. I made a bee-line for the exit after paying and leaving tips. I declined to buy the basketful of products that had been used on my face during the facial, although I really did want that $150 motorized face-polisher: power tools for the face? Hell, yes.

I then returned to my little apartment, and there I have stayed all day, relaxing, reading about George III's daughters and their extended family by way of Queen Victoria (it's an Anglophilia Extravaganza around here, lately), and looking forward to my next doctor's appointment.

Exciting, no?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things I Now Know

A few things I've figured out during the course of the week (which has only run its course halfway):

1) The muscle relaxers don't do anything except knock me out for a couple hours so I can get some sleep.

2) If you call your doctor's receptionist in tears, you don't get to speak to the nurse, you get to speak to the doctor.

I also know that I have a CAT scan Thursday morning at 9 am, which means I have to arrive at the hospital at 7:45 am (an ungodly hour) so I can drink some contrast, let it seep its way through my system, and then go lie in a tube while a herd of Siamese roams around sniffing for maladies. I'd rather have lab work done, but that's just because I'm partial to the canines.

My incredibly devoted mother - who has the patience of Job, and a name that is probably mispronounced every bit as often despite its brevity - is driving me to the hospital, just as she drove me to my doctor's appointment this past Friday. And just as she took me to dinner last night and to lunch today.

I do have a bit of relaxation to look forward to at the end of the week, though. A while back, my father was given a gift card to Nordstrom to partake of their spa services (in particular, a massage and pedicure), but he never scheduled his spa day. In fact, he forgot about his spa day, until my mother reminded him. She then gently suggested that, seeing as all of my vacation days are going towards doctor's visits and to my sister's upcoming delivery of a niece for Ms. Strainedconsciousness to spoil rotten, it would be nice to give me a mini-vacation by donating the aforementioned spa day to a worthy cause, namely: myself.

So this Saturday, I will be receiving a one-hour massage, followed by a one-hour facial, and then will stagger back to my apartment to rest, hopefully knowing a bit more about my innards following the feline scans to take place Thursday morning.

Hopefully. The suspense is killing me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

That Answers That Question

I went into work this morning, and the first thing I did, okay, the second thing I did, was discuss my current health issues with Oldsmobile. (The first thing was deposit my purse and my can of root beer at my desk, but that's not important). Since I cry like a French futbol player, these days, I teared up, and my voice cracked while I tried to explain to him in the least embarrassing way possible what's wrong with me and that it's causing pain.

His response? If I need to work from home where I can lie down, then work from home. If I need to take a few days off, that's fine, they won't dock my pay.

"The most important thing, Ms. Strainedconsciousness, is for you to get well." He assured me that my job was secure because I'm a vital asset to the company, I'm so professional with clients, and because I'm so adaptable within the company. They need me for all the little things that spring up that Radio, Pacman, and Scooter aren't available to do (or, as is more often the case, just don't want to do, because it's boring).

So I've just finished up a bit of commercial specification writing, prone in my bed, and I'm about to make myself some lunch and read for a few minutes - but nothing so mentally taxing as The Economist, because I am still on muscle relaxers, so I'm kind of spacey - and then I'll return to my specifications for the rest of the afternoon, feeling less stressed about work than I have in a long while.

Speaking of muscle relaxers: it is damned hard to type when you're on muscle relaxers. Thank goodness for Microsoft Autocorrect, because otherwise there would be all sorts of typographical flotsam and jetsam all over my usually impeccable specifications.

In an hour or two, I'll give myself another injection and call my primary care physician to raise a point with her about my current treatment, and a point I raised with the surgeon I'm seeing who was kind of dismissive of my point, to see if she thinks it has any merit. Maybe she'll want me to come in to see her, and maybe I can schedule it for the same day as my next appointment with the surgeon so I won't miss work on multiple days (since I'm trying to double-up for efficiency's sake).

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I slept well, last night; it was the second good night's sleep I've had in about three weeks.

I ended up skipping Radio's birthday party because I wasn't well enough to go. Sure, I guess I could have gone, if I'd loaded up on oral muscle relaxers and injected myself full of the other ones, and I did have someone who offered to drive me there and back, but I knew I'd still be in pain, and that my would-be-driver - who we'll refer to as Jonah - would have been forced to dance attendance on me all evening. And by "all evening" I mean "for the one hour I probably would have lasted before either 1) falling asleep curled up in a corner or; B) demanding I be taken home because the pain had grown unbearable."

I have a hunch Jonah wouldn't have minded his role as attendance-dancer-on-er, seeing as he offered to skip the party altogether to come entertain me at my apartment, but my emotional state is somewhat volatile, right now, what with all the trauma/drama/ramalamadingdong going on, and I think the last thing I need is another potential upset, or the guilt from potentially upsetting someone else.

So after skipping last night's soiree, I arose at 8:30 am Sunday - which is a miracle, and I think I should be canonized for it - dressed, and was at La Madeleine by 9:15 for breakfast. I decided I should eat something healthy involving a jam-slathered-croissant before I took my oral muscle relaxer, and La Madeleine is usually a nice quiet place to eat breakfast.

USUALLY being the key word, here. Because on this particular Sunday, it was full of loud blowhard men (I will not call them gentlemen, judging by their coarse language in the presence of ladies) who had no concept of the sanctity of others' solitude or their potential need for quietness. It's a very small La.M., so sound travels very easily. I tried shooting a couple of dirty looks at one of the tables, but that apparently led the corpulent 60-something leading the hard-blowing charge to think I was enamored of him as he just winked at me. I sneered and went back to (vainly attempting to) read my Economist. A few minutes passed and he walked by my table en route to refill his coffee cup.

"Watcha reading?" he inquired.

"I'm trying to read The Economist," I replied.

"Yeah, it's a difficult magazine."

I lowered said magazine. "It's not the magazine that's difficult, it's the loudness of the other patrons and their interruptions that makes the reading slow going." I raised said magazine. He walked off to refill his coffee. He didn't stop by again on the way to the table. In fact, he took a decidedly circuitous route to avoid passing near my table, and I can't imagine why. I'll chalk it up to the dark circles under my eyes and my Seek and Destroy Metallica shirt. The winged skull with fangs is fairly intimidating to the uninitiated.

By the time I left, just a few minutes after my encounter with the corpulent interloper, I was starting to feel weak again - the opposite effect desired after a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, tomato, croissant, and a potato galette. I drove home, took the elevator upstairs, grabbed a glass of iced tea, and fell into bed. The pain was staggering and so was I, despite the fact that I'd given myself an injection before I left for breakfast, hoping to stave off the pain long enough until I got back from eating. I took the oral muscle relaxers, and settled down to read some more of my Economist.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to follow the stories in The Economist when you are half stoned out of your mind? Incredibly difficult. I know who Nicholas Sarkozy is. He's the president of France. No. Wait. He's the prime minister. Damn it. Which one is it? Which one is more important in French government? I should know this. But at present, the only thing I know is that his wife is gorgeous, he's short, and his name is involved in a scandal surrounding the L'Oreal heiress' fortune, but I'd still accept a date from him if he offered it. You know, once he's tired of being married to a supermodel/renowned singer, 'cause I'm next in line.

What am I going to do this next week when I return to work? I can't take the oral muscle relaxers before I leave for the office, since I can't drive for 6-8 hours after ingesting them (neat!), so after taking them at work, that should give me a good solid 30 minutes of work at the office before my level of concentration drops to nil and I start twiddling my thumbs and singing Frere Jacques to myself.

I also have no idea what will happen if I'm on the muscle relaxers and I have to sit up all day. Will they be as effective as they are currently, when I take them and then lie in bed, reading biographies of aristocratic women and trying to focus my eyes on pictures in the shelter magazines that constantly arrive at my house? Would it be unprofessional to set up a cot in my cubicle and move my computer to a cardboard box next to it? Or could I just talk to Oldsmosbile and Radio and see if I can work from home for a couple of days?

And most importantly, will I have to wear pants? I'm pretty sure part of my comfort level at home is the lack of pants involved - I'm taking my cues from the likes of Wonder Woman and Lady Gaga on this one - and I'm afraid wearing pants will interfere with the healing process.

I think the pants might definitely interfere. Think a more Gaga wardrobe could pass muster?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oh, What Fools These Mortals Be

It's been a couple of week since I've written. I've been undergoing some personal trauma - a little bit of emotional, a little bit of physical - and I've been exhausted. At this point, I've taken a "to hell with 'em" attitude to the emotional bits of flotsam, but it's the damned physical trauma that I can't seem to shake.

Over a year ago, I had some surgery to try to rectify a medical situation that wasn't healing itself. All the lotions and potions and notions my doctor tried failed, so snip snip, and I was a new girl.

Or so it was supposed to be.

Turns out, my body is pretty stubborn, and it didn't feel like being healed up quite so easily. Sure, that bit healed the way it was supposed to, but other bits decided to take up the slack. In the past two weeks, I've spent my non-working hours in bed. And some of the hours I should have been in the office were also spent in bed, albeit "telecommuting" in a way from home. Let's face it, when you're writing project specifications, you don't really need to be in the office.

A roll of plans, a word processor, and thou.

Anyway, After 11 days of pure unmitigated physical hell, I went to the doctor yesterday, described to her exactly how severe my symptoms were, how terrible of an impact they were having on my life, exactly what I was doing to try to relieve them (everything she's told me to do, and more!) and asked what she proposed as a solution.

She gave me muscle relaxers, because the ones I've been using weren't strong enough.

I've had experience with oral muscle relaxers before, back in middle school, and again after a car wreck in college. They're okay. They make you kind of loopy and allow you to get a full 12-hour sleep without once waking up, and your dreams are vastly more interesting, to boot. She also gave me some that I have the please of injecting into myself 2-4 times daily, which is, actually, decidedly unpleasant.

They also tend to instill a false sense of confidence the day after you start them when you feel so much better!

I decided, this morning - er - afternoon, when I got out of bed, that I was well enough to go to the grocery store. It's something I haven't done in two weeks, and the staples of my diet - hummus, whole wheat pita bread, apples, carrots, yogurt - were gone. So off I went to the Whole Paycheck to restock my larder.

I am an idiot.

Halfway across the parking lot - going into the grocery store - I regretted the decision. But did I turn around? Did I give up? Heck no! I went right along with my plan. There was hummus and all-natural root beer to be purchased! (Thanks, Dad, for the voicemail that gave me that little craving).

I did use a cart, though, because I didn't want to tax myself too much.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, feeling slightly light-headed, and weak. I unpacked my goods and retreated to my bed, once again.

I think, at this point, the only option for me is to start wearing Empire-waist gowns and have my parents arrange a marriage for me with someone who has an absolutely Dickensian last name, something like Bottlesnoot or Bandershoot or something. I could be an object of curiosity for the landed gentry all around and could hold court from a fustian upholstered divan in the picture gallery.

Eh. With my luck, I'd probably end up with the gout.