Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Human Pincushion

In the past 21 days, I have had 17 days of migraines.

It gets old, dear readers, very quickly.

Although the Thanksgiving holidays are over, I have yet to return to the office, because I am physically incapable of driving myself. The sunlight and movement of a car, combined with the need to sit up and the ever-present skull-cracking headache, mean that I get nauseous.

I briefly considered driving with my seat laid back, but I'm not gangsta enough to pull off that move.

I have tried all the migraine medicines I can, to no avail. The ones that previously staved off the worst have thrown their hands up in frustration at being called into action so often. Even the previous champion - the one that costs $24 per pill before insurance (!) and $10 per pill with insurance (that's $20-48 per dose, dear reader) - has admitted defeat and slunk out of the ring.

In desperation, and at the urging of two of my doctors, I sought help through acupuncture.

No dice, yet. But it was a fascinating experience.

A couple of light taps, a tiny prick, and a needle stuck out of the skin just above my umbilicus. Then, three more were inserted - one below and one on each side - and I started looking like a Buddhist mandala.

Five pins in each foot - one of which hurt, and drew blood, which surprised the acupuncturist and myself - and four in each hand, three in the legs just above and at the knee level, and one pin in each arm, three inches above the knobbly bone of my wrist.

Did I feel anything (apart from that painful foot pin)? Yup.

The pins in my legs sent electric shockwaves down my calves, into the tops of my feet and the outside of my ankles. The pin in my left arm sent a dull ache up to my shoulder.

But my headache wasn't relieved.

For a time, it changed, granted, but it was the location of the headache that changed, migrating from my forehead down into my upper jaw, of all places. Another pin here, another pin there, and the headache was back where it started, albeit slightly dulled. But not eradicated.

I have another acupuncture session on Thursday, which is preceded by a doctor's visit Tuesday afternoon (my mother is acting as chauffeur, at present, while I luxuriate, supine, in the heated leather embrace of the minivan's passenger seat).

I have no idea what my neurologist will tell me to do for my headaches. Will she end up hospitalizing me? I was about to demand that my parents take me to the hospital on Sunday, after my sister, brother-in-law, and beautiful niece departed Plano for their Houston abode. I was only halted by the glimmer of hope that my Monday acupuncture appointment provided me.

That flicker - although not completely snuffed out - is not as bright as it was, but it was worth a try, and I haven't completely given up on it, yet.

As the acupuncturist said after reviewing my intake forms, I "have a lot going on," medically speaking, and taking care of one or two other things might help with the migraines.

Once again, it's the game of Wait and See.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Out of Touch

I'm out of touch
With my own time
And I'm out of my head because Ryan Reynolds is People's Sexiest Maannnn.

Second day in a row that I've butchered song lyrics. Yesterday, The Beatles. Today, Hall and Oates.

The music definitely says something, because as the lyrics above say, I'm out of touch with my time.

I've known this for a while. One of my friends thinks it's hilarious. She loves telling people that I have no idea what Justin Bieber sounds like (at which point I thought to myself, "They play his songs on the radio? I thought he was just a Disney thing..."), but that I can pluck the title and artist to some obscure song playing in a bar (The Doves aren't that obscure. And just because I know who Bonnie Tyler is, jeez...)

So today, I posted on Facebook about how disappointed I was that People selected Ryan Reynolds as their Sexiest Man.

Adorably goofy. Okay. Fine. Whatever.

Apparently, there are plenty of women out there - some of whom are my Facebook friends - who disagree and think he's a total studmuffin.

Heheh. " Studmuffin."


Or maybe that's just because I'm not up on pop culture, so I don't know what else he might have been in since then. Hmmm...

Then I started thinking about who I would have selected for Sexiest Man Alive.

Er. Honestly? First guy that came to mind (granted in his form of 20 years ago)?

Yup. And for the record, yes, I think he is still very handsome today, but I think he needs to go back to the mustache instead of the goatee thing. Just sayin'. Nevermind that he's older than my dad...

Okay, so if Tom said, "Nope. Not doing it. I'm too old for that business," who would I pick then?

Er... Yeah. Not old enough to be my dad, thankfully, as he's only 13 years older than I am (so that actually puts him inside the acceptable range of ages for dating, in my opinion).

So Tom Selleck is "too old for this" and Javier Bardem is off frolicking with Penelope Cruz. Option #3?

The -ahem- most surprising option?

The one that my friend looked at me and said, "Wait, who? You mean the guy who played....


Yeah... Ben Kingsley (sigh. Flutter eyelashes). But she apparently hasn't seen him in Sexy Beast.

The movie title says it all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Day In the Life

I read the news today, oh boy, while I was waiting in the doctor's office.

Okay, so it isn't quite as catchy as the Beatles' original, but I do what I can.

I started my day, shivering on a construction site, with mud clinging to the hem of my $180 jeans. I don't put my jeans in the dryer, so I hang them by their hems to dry because it usually prevents wrinkling (if the denim is soft and/or has a high lycra content). Unfortunately, this tactic also stretches the pants legs after a few washes. After you've had them hemmed. And that 1-1/4" lug sole on your ohsostylish steel-toe boots doesn't do diddlysquat when the mud is 2" deep. At least.

And Superdeeduper informed me that I should have called him over with the forklift to take the envelope containing the contractor pay-applications, seeing as it weighed more than I did.

It was a beeeeeeeeg envelope.

I stopped at Starbucks en route to the office from the construction site. Okay, it's not really on the way, and it added a good 10 minutes to the trip, but I was freezing, and I can't stand the coffee the guys in the office drink.

I was the only woman in the Starbucks who did not have at least shoulder-length hair, bleached blonde and with a straw-like consistency, and who was not dressed in yoga clothes, or something resembling yoga clothes. Half of them had cell-phones glued to their ears, and were shrieking about shoes, and organizing their closets (one thing we have in common) and how little Madison has ballet at one.

And the Uggs. They were every where.


I caught a couple of odd looks, standing amidst them with my cropped brown hair, voluminous paisley shawl over an aubergine turtleneck, and mud-encrusted boots (and pants hems). I smiled at the women when I caught them looking, and they looked quickly away.

Back at the office, I got to work picking up redlines for an enormous project we're doing just across the Dallas North Tollway from my little apartment.

It's a project I'll be managing next week, while Scooter is on vacation.

I meet the clients, contractor, and construction superintendent tomorrow, so they have the chance to get acquainted with me and comfortable before Scooter flees for the tropics.

Unlike Pacman, Scooter tells me before he up and vamooses, and I'll also be going to the Friday morning site meeting. It's at 8:30. I will be setting twelve alarms to make sure I get there on time. With an Egg McMuffin in my belly.

I workworkworked until 1:00, then scrammed and drove helterskelter up to Plano for a neurologist appointment. I have another one in two weeks (lucky me). I've had 10 days of migraines in 14 days (I think, I need to check the migraine Excel), and my neurologist is slightly freaking out.

But just slightly.

So now I'm tapering off my current migraine medicine (woohoo!) and will start a new one Friday night. She wrote me a prescription for a new "acute migraine" medicine (although must of my migraines are a-ugly. Sorry, I had to), but I can't take it, yet, because:

I'm starting a new migraine medicine to try to stop the cycle of migraine violence. I was exposed to lots of public awareness ads as a child, can't you tell?

The medicine is the same one you receive if you're hospitalized for migraines. The difference is that, in the hospital, they give it to you via IV. I cannot haul an IV bag around on a construction site with me, though, so I'll be taking it through the nose. Every 8 hours. For three days. And then we see if it has worked its magic.

"But what do I do with the migraine I have now?" I queried, squinting to shield my eyes from the light, even though we'd turned off the fluorescent lights to spare my poor optic nerves the strain.

"Dr. Pain gave you pain medicine, right?"

"Well, yes, to take at night."

"Snow yourself."

"Um, I'm not really supposed to do that." Visions of DEA raids danced in my muddled head.

"I'll call him."

"Okey dokey."

Granted, I still can't take my prescription pain medication during the work day because I might have to drive Oldsmobile somewhere, or drive myself somewhere, or be driven out to a construction site where I'm expected to be able to dodge flying wood pieces, if need be.

Oh, and I'm supposed to start acupuncture. Stat.

Back at the office, everyone wanted to know how the appointment had gone. I reported on my progress, or lack thereof, and shrugged.

Radio suggested I have blood work done, a full chemical workup, to make sure everything's okay.

Yeah, okay. But that will have to wait until next year. I'm flat out of vacation days, at this point, and I've still got doctor's appointments (okay, I will be out of vacation days once all the appointments are taken care of).

And now I'm in bed, writing a blog post, my belly full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, because it's the only thing that sounded good to me, and waiting for 11:00 to roll around so I can take my last dose of migraine spray (but without inhaling; it's not like sinus spray, and if you inhale , you taste it, and it tastes awful).

If you are still reading at this point... my goodness, you must be easily entertained.

Monday, November 15, 2010

About to Whine About Things Not Worth Whining About

It's getting a bit slow in the office. We were given the go-ahead today on a project (hooray!), but there's nothing for me to do on it, yet, and it's a little project, and I don't know how much we'll have to do in the way of construction drawings and millwork details, which happen to be my specialty.

I finished my assignment for Radio. He had no more tasks for me.

Pacman? Nada.

Scooter? "Uhhhhh... Yeah, but I need about thirty minutes to mark up the drawings. Do you have something to do for thirty minutes?"

Chortle. "Surf the interwebs."

"Sounds good. Go to town."


I already spend about 30 minutes each day brushing up on design blogs, making sure I know what's going on in the world of millwork details, interior finishes, and the newest soft-furnishings offerings from companies I cannot afford (are you listening, Century, Henredon, and Hickory Chair? Okay, I know Hickory Chair is listening, but Century and Henredon?)

My daily blog perusal is why the guys were astonished when they said wistfully that they wished we could do interiors and I squealed and cried, "Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! Mrs. Robinson and I can do it!"

So I went back to my desk, with Scooter's blessing, and proceeded to venture into digital worlds hitherto unexplored.

I tell you, most design blogs - that is, blogs devoted exclusively to interior design - are depressing. They're cutesy and try to be hipsterish, riding the wave of zombie mania currently sweeping the pop culture beaches... or something

or they look like Z Galerie threw up all over them

or they have terrible grammar and sentence structure.

I know that my proofreading skills occasionally fall short of the mark or that I end a sentence with a preposition. I know I am definitely guilty of the rampant and irresponsible overuse of parentheses. But I also know that my sentences do not sound like a fifteen year old wrote them, and that I don't egregiously capitalize words in questions submitted to my inexplicably wide readership, the answers to which I will never respond or even read.

And I know that, although my dream house looks like the result of an Andy-Warhol/Billy-Baldwin/Dorothy-Draper orgy fueled by Dr. Pepper and lightly salted roasted almonds, I would never feature an apartment on my blog, billing it as something that is wonderful when in fact it is straight-out-of-the-Ikea-box boring. Unless it is as an example of an apartment that is boring, like so:

The above apartment was featured recently on one of the most widely read design blogs in a post entitled "Why does Barcelona have the best apartments?"

The only thing I see that this apartment has that apartments in Dallas don't have is a radiator.

That's it.

There's the cheapo flat-screen. The Panton chairs. The boring Ikea-ish white chairs. Boring rug. Minimal wall art on a boring beige wall. Light-tone wood floors (boring? Check). Why is this one of "the best apartments?" Why was it even in the running?

I save pictures I find striking to folders on my desktop at work, then email them to myself at home (compressed into zip files) where I print them off and paste them into my little OCDesign collection.

It seems like lately, there are fewer images for me to save, to collect.

Am I just becoming more discriminating (my word) or picky (in the words of an ex-boyfriend)? Or am I jaded after wading through all the cutesy, un-chic garbage (see Little Augury for a lovely tirade against overuse of that particular term)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Week From Hell

This past week was, to put it mildly, awful.

I had my pain management treatment on Monday, and then another doctor's appointment that afternoon.

No, there is no abatement in my pain, so I'm not too hopeful, as things stand.

Following my migraine Saturday, I started to get one Sunday, but staved it off with some medicine (whew!). Monday, I had one in the afternoon. Tuesday, joyfully, migraine free. But then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I had migraines. All day.

I've begun keeping a migraine journal - er, spreadsheet - so I can track them. I chronicle what I've done to try to stop them (medicine X + medicine Y and sleep, for example) and whether or not it had any effect. If no steps were taken, then why not?

The only reason why no steps will be taken is that there's so many triptans in my body that I'd explode if I had any more, just in case you're wondering.

I have an appointment with my neurologist - a.k.a. my new best friend, because I see her more often than I see any of my other friends - to discuss what the hell we are going to do to get me back to normal.

The guys in the office have been pretty supportive, helping me remove most of the fluorescent lights from my cubicle so that it's now a dark little cave (I still keep my sunglasses on half the time, as the glare from the computer screen is so bright). It's no fun. No fun at all.

And my other doctor's nurse - the one I saw after my appointment with Dr. Pain on Monday - gave me a little lecture because my weight has dropped again. I'm back down to where I was when I was "too thin" in her estimation, when she wanted me to gain at least 5 lbs. at the beginning of August. I told her I hadn't intended to, but that I've been nauseous because of the migraines...

The nurse frowned. And then asked me why I take so much Benadryl.

Fortunately, she forgot all about my weight loss as I regaled her with steps she can take to help combat her recent outbreak of eczema (it's new to her, old hat with me, and the reason for all the Benadryl on the long list of daily medicines: something else my doctor doesn't like).

So my week: awful.

On the up-side, I think I figured out why I almost passed out at the construction site. And why I almost passed out on that date last year. And why I almost passed out during a staff meeting 3 years ago. There is a form of hypotension (low blood pressure) called neurally mediated hypotension that results from your brain failing to send your heart the proper message to step up its game when you've been standing for longish periods of time (30+ minutes), after which blood will pool in your feet, so your heart has to pump harder to keep it circulating properly.

In people with neurally mediated hypotension, your brain doesn't recognize this, fails to send the proper message, your feet become big ole sacks of hemoglobin, and your brain then fails to get enough oxygen. Badda boom badda bing: hey, presto! Unconscious.

Or, at least, pale, sweaty, and scaring the crud out of your construction superintendent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Interior Mania Continues

My mother and I went to see Antony Gormley speak at the Nasher Sculpture Center on Saturday (he was fascinating. If not for the fact that I was felled by a migraine, I could have listened to him all day. As it was, I still stuck it out through the whole damned lecture. THAT AMAZING.)

Prior to the lecture (little artist crush, now), my mom came into my apartment to survey the new lampshades in situ, seeing as she gave them to me for my birthday and all.

We have decided that my current picture frames have got to go.


It's a vicious circle, Dear Readers. You think you're getting things just right, and yet there's something nagging at the back of your brain...

We've decided that the frames should be gold/gilded.

Oh, Ms. Strainedconsciousness! you cry. You don't have the money to buy loads of new picture frames!

No, Dear Reader, but I do already have in my possession plenty of gilding supplies, for I went on an art supply binge a few months ago (prior to surgery, pain management treatments, and daily migraine attacks) and bought gilding fixative and foil. It's not real gold, of course, because I can't afford that, but it looks quite like the real thing, and it's doing a smashing job of transforming the taxidermy mount for a set of deer antlers I have.


Gilding is actually, I've found, a wonderful way to relax. Brush on the fixative, do something more productive for 20 minutes while the fixative dries a bit, and then return to the object to be gilded and start applying the foil, using waxed paper and a dry paintbrush. It's very minute work, very tedious, and really quite brainless. I don't have to worry too much about it, whether I'm doing it wrong. If the fixative gets too dry, I just put on some more, wait a bit, and start again.
It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be solid on the first go round. It eventually begins to look even, although the surface is made up of a mottled agglomeration of foil bits.

It's a craft I can get behind.

Although really, I tend to stand over the objects when I work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funday

I should, by rights, be at Happy Hour, right now. But I am not allowed to drink alcohol for several days prior to the medical procedure Dr. Pain will perform on Monday. Anyways, I'm broke.

Two strikes, and I'm already out. What the hell kind of baseball is this?

Instead of imbibing, I'm at my apartment, having picked up an enormous armload of dry cleaning from the love of my life (a.k.a. my Korean dry cleaner... who has a leggy blonde girlfriend... who probably has phenomenally clean clothes in addition to her BMW). I began unshelling my clothes, removing their plastic wrappers and mentally counting the dolphins the dry cleaning industry strangles every year, and I saw the first one: a dead sweater.

It's not the dry cleaner's fault. The sweater is - or rather, was - five years old, purchased as part of my inaugural professional wardrobe. It's been a good run. But now, alas, the elastic threads in the knit are separating from the soft merino, and they create shiny little loops as they swirl out from the black fabric. It's not attractive.

I put the sweater on, comforting myself somewhat with the fact that my anatomy has changed shape, so the sweater no longer fits properly anyways.

It's cold comfort. Especially once the sweater is off, because my apartment is freezing.

Another sweater has fallen prey to the same malady. And then, I find that the oatmeal sweater I bought last year, faithfully de-pilling as my purse rubbed its woolly threads into nubbies, has nubbed itself up again. Perhaps beyond redemption. I worked on de-pilling for a good ten minutes, giving my grandmother's old embroidery scissors and my electric pill-remover a good workout, and then called it quits for a time.

The electric pill-remover was getting a wee bit warm for comfort. Nothing like trying to salvage your clothes and setting them afire by mistake, eh?

A tan wool sweaterdress - which once garnered me a date request from a client, which was entirely inappropriate but still flattering - is also incredibly pilled. And snagged. The snag is in the bum region, and it pulled the threads of one row taut across the tush. I worked at that for a time until the one particular thread that seemed to be the worst offender snapped. Whether or not the dress is a lost cause has yet to be seen.

It might take an exploratory wearing for a few hours to find out. Anyways, the turtleneck I had to wear under it to keep from breaking out in a not-so-attrractive rash bit the dust last year, so I have to find a replacement before I can wear it again.

Millionaire clients do not (inappropriately) ask you on dates if you have a rash on your neck, or so I assume.

It appears that I'm now down to a four black turtlenecks, two cream-colored ones, a soft pink one that doesn't stay where it's supposed to because clothing designers don't account for the fact that women have hips (this shirt will sit above the waist, but we will only design pants that ride below the hips! I imagine them cackling fiendishly) and a couple of thin-ish cardigans that I bought because I could wear them during the spring and summer over a shell/camisole without burning up (outside) or freezing (in the office). I have one grey sweater/blazer and an olive green cardigan (that's pilling where my purse brushes against my hip - it will also encounter the electric de-piller tonight) and a multitude of shells and camisoles to wear under the cardigan and blazer.

I used to be a total clotheshorse, but that was in the days before my spate of unemployment, before I began economizing, before 1/4 of my gross income went to medical bills (yeesh). Now I get excited at the prospect of buying a couple of T-shirts at the Gap, whereas before I wouldn't have deigned to do so. It would have been silk blouses from Neimans or nothing.

Well, almost nothing. I've always been something of a champion of high/low dressing.

It just seems like there's considerably more low, of late.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's 6:00 : Do you know where YOUR intern architect is?

It's actually 6:15 pm, on the Thursday, and I should by rights still be seated in my cubicle, plugging away at millwork design for a 10,000 square foot house a hop, skip, and a jump from my 700 square foot apartment.

My apartment fits tidily in the master suite.

Instead, I am at home, where I have been since 11:40 this morning.

I awoke with a migraine - to be fair, I went to bed with one, too - and trudged off to work, hoping I could make it through the day. My neurologist recently increased the dosage on my migraine preventive medicine, and it had seemed to be working. Until last night.

I made it through two solid days of rain and storm, and then BAM! migraine when the sun came out. I want to be like the little girl playing outside my building and whine, "That's not fair!" but I will refrain. Even though I did just sort of do it.

I came home for lunch, to bolt down some sustenance and to take a nap, hoping that a slight recharge would help. Also, I took my migraine "rescue" medicine at that point (dose #2) hoping it would help out a bit.

It didn't help out immediately, but it did knock me out immediately. I slept until 1:30. And then I called Mrs. Robinson and told her I would not be back today, because of the migraine.

I went back to sleep, and awoke again at 4:15, still groggy - partly from the migraine "hangover" and partly from the pain medicine I took because my back was killing me. I still have some residual photophobia, and although the sounds of my new washing machine installed by Gustavo and Alan yesterday should be music to my ears, they are causing a bit of a pain somewhere behind my left sinus. Hopefully, that will dissipate by the morning.

It came as a surprise to Mrs. Robinson and the guys that I had a migraine, today. And Radio expressed disappointment that I hadn't informed him about the one I had last Friday (which had actually started on Thursday). But if I told them every time I had a migraine, I would probably sound like a whiny little brat. I don't tell the blogosphere every time I have one.

And why does the Blogspot spellchecker not include either Blogspot or blogosphere in their dictionary? Seriously? Sigh...

At least my migraine is not further egged on by the jumping racket created by my previous washing machine. At least my new one is quieter and less mobile.

At least.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Post-Flood Contrition

I've felt guilty about my rudeness to my downstairs neighbor ever since my blunt, "I know" comment when she embarked on her final lecture about the evils of washing your clothes when you're not home.

I had contemplated the idea of sending her flowers to apologize, and I decided, this evening, that I would do so.

Sorry, First Born, but FTD Florists gets you.

I think I've only sent flowers once or twice before. Definitely once. And I didn't pay for them. They were sent on behalf of my former employer. I just picked them out.

My rudeness just cost me $70, including "handling fees" and sales tax. So much for the $49.99 price tag, right?

And, unfortunately, I don't actually know my downstairs neighbor's name, and the reverse address lookup websites all come up with a billion names. I thought that, since my neighbor is an elderly Hispanic woman (pile on the guilt), it would narrow things down. Nope. The first three possible names listed are for Hispanic women in their early to late 70s. So in the "name" blanks (required), I entered First Name: My; Last Name: Neighbor.

I briefly toyed with calling the apartment office in the morning to ask her name, but feared they'd ask me why I needed it. "So I could send her flowers to apologize for being a royal b***h the day my apartment flooded. The usual." The prospect of calling started sapping my will to apologize, even if I'm not brave enough to do it to her face.

I'm hoping the florist doesn't call me for name clarification, thinking I'm a nutjob. Particularly since my card reads, "I wanted to apologize for 1) accidentally flooding your apartment (I no longer wash clothes when I'm not home); 2) my unpardonable rudeness. I am truly sorry. Megan (third floor)."

I also hope I don't end up with a defiant elderly Hispanic woman on my doorstep, throwing the flowers in my face and cursing me in Spanish. Particularly since I'd probably understand the cursing (I don't know much Spanish, but I understand enough to know when to be offended).

On another, more cheerful note, my apartment management is replacing my whole washing machine. I informed them that I'd washed small loads of clothes, and the thing was jumping all over the place, and could they please come look at it again, as I was afraid the jumping would throw it out of balance again, potentially flooding the apartment again. Ahem.

Jaime the beleaguered maintenance man left me a cheerful note saying that he ran the machine, there's something wrong with it, and he thinks the jumping could be what's wrecking the balancers. As opposed to their previous assertion that the wrecked balancers caused by my overloading were causing the jumping. Ahem.

So I get a new washing machine.

I can't wait. I bet my downstairs neighbor will be happy, too, once The Jumping Washing Machine of Dallas County is no more.