Monday, February 27, 2012

Follow-up to Dizzy

I thought about my last post today, and about my weekend in general. One thing I forgot to mention, that I had completely forgotten about, is how tired it makes me when I miss a dose and then get back on the next day. If it happens to be a weekend I usually end up taking a (long) nap, whether I want to or not. Sometimes I almost don't make it to the bed or sofa in time, the sleepiness hits me so hard and so suddenly. But, nap or no (I didn't get one last Saturday) I end up feeling drained. The entire weekend was kind of a fog for me  I said that more than once on Sunday. Maybe if I had taken a nap on Saturday it would have been better. But, even today I'm a little lethargic.

I don't like it. I need to not miss a dose again.


Saturday, February 25, 2012


February 25, 2012

I was going to write about how discombobulated I was today, but instead I think I'm going to write about something else, something that been affecting me since all of that started this morning. Please note that I wrote "since all of that started" and not "what caused it all."

I take a medicine daily. It's called Atripla. All medicines come with a list of side effects and one that I see frequently on bottles is that it can cause dizziness. As a matter of fact, I see it so frequently that I had long since stopped paying attention. So, when I first began to take this medicine I didn't think much of that little yellow notice on that bottle. I lived in Elgin at the time and I was about to drive into town. It was a Saturday. I took the pill and waited the required hour to eat. It specified that you have to take it on an empty stomach, so I had to wait, not eating for a while before I was able to take it, and then wait 30 minutes to an hour afterward in order to eat again.

So, medicine taken, time waited, I ate and got ready to go to town. Then it hit me. I don't know if you, Gentle Reader, have ever taken multiple tequila shots and then realized that there is a waiting game with tequila. It's like this: You take a shot, you feel nothing. You begin to feel empowered and you take more shots. Then they start to kick in and you realize that even if you stop taking shots at this point, the rest of what you've already consumed is still going to be kicking in and you're probably in trouble. You might notice this when you stand up and turn to go to the restroom and the room stays in place and then catches up with your line of vision, which has already shifted to a different part of the room. You then realize that you can't walk with very much dignity, so you just do your best. While in the restroom you discover that you're very aware of your face, particularly your upper lip because it's tingling. Later you discover that you can't really feel your upper lip at all any more. Now, depending on how much you consumed before you realized the delayed reaction qualities of tequila you might at this point throw dignity to the wind and stumble helplessly to the bathroom to meet your new best friend, the porcelain toilet. Or, you might decide to make your escape only to witness your vomit beat you to the door of the establishment you're trying to exit. Projectile vomit is rarely considerate enough to actually open the door for you, it just makes it incredibly messy to do so and absolutely impossible to leave without everybody in the room looking at you and possibly laughing, applauding or threatening to call the police, or even all three.

Not that that's ever happened to me.

But, the "dizziness" that the bottle warned me about took me about halfway there. I was absolutely drunk, to the point that my upper lip tingled. I could still feel it (my lip) mostly, but I had to sit down and reconsider my trip to Austin.

As the days went by I tried various approaches to taking this medicine. Taking medicine on an empty stomach is much more easily done first thing in the morning, but clearly taking it when going to bed has benefits when this particular side effect is involved. Then I learned something. I don't know if you were paying attention before, but I wrote something earlier, a clue shall we say?  What I learned is that this dizziness doesn't kick in until I eat. So, taking it at night doesn't help because when I eat breakfast it kicks in then. I suppose that I could really work to make it happen properly by not eating for the required 2 hours (which is difficult enough as it is and only possible in a controlled environment, which doesn't leave room for hanging out with friends) and then taking the medicine and then eating 30 minutes to an hour later so that the dizziness kicks in and gets itself out of the way before I start my next day. I can't even guarantee, though, that it wouldn't kick in again when I ate the next day. I decided that taking it at night wasn't going to work for me. That's too much planning and I don't like to try to plan my life around taking a pill, even if that pill is keeping me alive. Besides, I fail miserably at taking pills every night. I do better first thing in the morning. So, being that it is a Very Important Medicine I felt I'd better do what I knew would work.

So, I stuck it out. I took the pill first thing in the morning and waited until I went to work and then I ate and then I was intoxicated at work, but I wasn't driving. I was just taking a very long time to do something that should have taken me 10 minutes to do.

As I ventured through life I found that this effect lessened. I also found that the medicine had other undesirable side effects, so now I take an antibitch medication along with it, which makes me clench my teeth so I take Advil as well. Before I began taking the antibitch medication I further learned that a side effect of the medication, aside from the dizziness, was that it made me stupid. I forgot things, like to take the medication that started all of it in the first place. This caused me to learn that the effect comes back when I miss a dose or several doses. It's not at full-force, upper-lip-tingling strength, but it does make me sit in my chair and swoon and it even makes me walk like I've had 1/4 of a drink too much. (By the way, nobody that I've talked to – nurses, doctors or pharmacists – has acknowledged that stupidity is a known side effect of Atripla.)

But, a couple of years down the road I think I've got it more under control. I carry a man-purse now, so I can keep back-up medicines with me so that in case I discover that I didn't take it in the morning I can take it at work, or wherever I happen to be. The messenger bag, as I like to call it and as it was sold to me, is so handy in so many ways that I can't even begin here to describe the benefits. But, before I digress completely let me come back around to my first paragraph. I was having a rough morning in a confused, disorganized way. I also noticed when I took my dose today that yesterday's dose was still in the daily pill dispenser, and I know that I didn't take it later in the day yesterday from my emergency stash. So, I realized that today is going to be one of those days. When I was sitting at Starbucks and found that my Nook wasn't in my bag I couldn't blame it on the meds because I hadn't eaten anything yet, so I had to chalk it up to a bad, disorganized morning. Halfway through the coffee the intoxication began to kick in so I headed home and clumsily began writing this instead of outlining the events of the morning, which are probably more humorous, but don't have as much socially redeeming value.

One other thing I've learned that's worth mentioning is that, though I feel intoxicated – I walk and often talk like I'm intoxicated – I don't experience the dropping of inhibitions that accompanies actual, alcohol-induced intoxication. So, while I am a little concerned at work that somebody will see me walk crooked, I don't really have to be concerned that I'll make bad decisions with regards to the maintenance man who I've been planning on doing unwholesome things to for 5 years now.

And now, I'm going to eat lunch and take a nap.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


February 15, 2012

I received a valentine from a friend of mine in Dallas. She's an artist - an illustrator and a sculptor. She works in watercolor, ceramic and bronze. And, now in iPhone. 

Frankly, I consider it an honor that she counts me as one of her friends. If you ever have a chance to see her series of field hands in bronze don't miss it. I would post some pictures, but I'm writing this in a moment of flattered inspiration and I haven't received permission.

I met Glo Coalson through a friend, who shall remain Nameless. This is the valentine that I received from her, via email. She created it on her iPhone, she says.

She called it in her email, "Redwing Blackbird Valentine". I printed it in color and hung it at my desk. It makes me happy to see it. Then, a coworker walked up and said, "Wow, it's a redwing blackbird."  straight face  I had no idea it was a real bird. So, another coworker and I googled the term Redwing Blackbird (because apparently we had nothing better to do with our time while at work) and lo and behold there were hundreds of pictures of black birds with red spots on their wings and a yellow strip next to the red. I should have known, though. Glo is an avid birder (I say this on my own; I don't know if she would agree with me or not. From what I can see she's avid.) and an animal lover in general.

I am so touched by my valentine. Thank you!

I love you, Glo.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Room

February 12, 2012

I’ve been in my current apartment for about a year an a half. It is a two bedroom apartment and one bedroom is almost half filled with boxes that I haven’t done anything with. At first it was a matter of “I’ll get to them soon.” Then it was “I have unpacked what I need and that’s what’s important.” Now it has become a monster that haunts me.

This story has many levels. First of all, I’m not a hoarder, but I am a pack-rat. So, I have stuff. Everybody in America has stuff. It’s what we do. Imagine the stuff they have in Europe. They’ve been there for thousands of years, not just hundreds. Those attics must be full of pieces of furniture that are hundreds of years old, but that they just can’t bring themselves to part with. Crowns from wardrobes long since removed, doors from buffets. Me? I just have boxes of things that are mostly useful, if I would just sit down and use them.

For instance, I could put some things on my walls. I have one picture hung. That’s it. I have many framed pictures, wrapped in newspapers in boxes along with other pieces of art. I will say for myself that I did unpack a lot of ceramic art and put it on shelves. And, my bookcases look nice… two of them anyway. The one in The Room still needs attention. I can’t get to it at the moment, though. I mean, I literally cannot get to it because of the boxes that are stacked in front of it.

So, what’s going on? I just can’t face it. It’s that simple. It’s like mail. A couple of months ago I overcame my phobia of checking the mail. I think that taking small steps is healthy, as long as I keep taking those small steps. Now that I have begun checking the mail, I need to do something with that mail. I remember there was, when I was growing up, a table by our door that had stacks and stacks of old mail. My dad’s truck had mail completely covering the dashboard and the passenger seat and the floorboard. I’m not trying to slander my father, but I do remember those stacks and my fear of them is one of the things that contributed to my fear of checking the mail. Not checking the mail leads to the post office thinking you’ve moved without telling them and they start returning your mail and soon the companies you do business with start asking what’s going on and then you start saying thing like, “I have no idea why the post office would send my mail back to you marked ‘No forwarding address on file’”, which is a lie and lies only compound themselves and soon you begin to look and feel like the true hoarders and alcoholics who lie and make excuses to justify their behavior while hiding bottles of vodka in the toilet cistern and/or unopened boxes of things they’ve ordered online in closets.

I could come out and say it. I’m a mess. There, I just did. The problem is it’s not cute. When a twenty-something thin blond female says that she’s a mess it’s adorable. When a 40-something, balding overweight single man says it, it’s pathetic. That’s just how I feel about it. When I was a twenty-something thin gay man it would have been adorable as well; I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Recently I got a little sick. I think it was allergies – a really bad case of allergies that kept me in bed for two days. This was the Thursday before Christmas and I was supposed to go to San Antonio on Friday to be with my family. On Thursday I didn’t leave work early because I had gone the entire year without taking any sick time and I wasn’t going to blow it 4 working days before the end of the year. That’s not to say that I was the most productive person that day, but I was there. Friday I got up and was getting ready to go to Boerne to pick up my dad and take him to my sister’s house in San Antonio. I was moving slower than usual, but I was moving. Then I had to sit down and rest just a bit before I took off. Somewhere around 10 AM I realized that I wasn’t going to make it, so I called my sister and she sent her husband – who is just the most awesome person alive – to pick up my dad. (The fact that he drove to Boerne to pick my dad up says a lot about how awesome my brother-in-law is.)

The point of this rambling story is that I stayed in bed all afternoon Thursday after work and then all day Friday and it was WONDERFUL. I read Agatha Christie mystery novels and I slept. I got up every once in a while to get water or soup. My cat, Anastasia, laid right beside me the whole time, just purring away to have me in bed so much. We were a happy house. I repeated this on the day after New Year’s Day and I’m not sure that I was even sick. I think I just wanted to stay in bed all day long and that’s just what I did. I went through many mystery novels during that time. (I choose mystery novels at these times because they’re light reading and don’t take a lot of thought. Notice that I didn’t say Kathy Reichs mystery novels.)

All of this is not getting my second bedroom emptied of boxes, though, nor is it getting anything on my walls. I was looking forward to living on my own so that I could arrange things my way and have fun doing it, and so far I haven’t done very much of it at all. Plus, those boxes are truly becoming the fodder of nightmares and bouts of depression. After a while a person will just lay in bed, immobilized by the pressure of it all.

Another trick is to leave the house. Last weekend I was going to work on that room and then suddenly, inexplicably, I had the Very Urgent Need to have a pouch to keep my rosary in. (That rosary is a story in and of itself.) Obviously I can’t put my attention on the project at hand until I’ve taken care to make sure that my prayer beads are in a pouch and not just thrown carelessly into a drawer of my nightstand or a pocket of my messenger bag. Then, somehow, that trip to find a pouch ended up taking all day and then it was time to go to bed and the next day was Sunday and I spent it with friends and then I was back to work and who could possibly address an issue of this magnitude on a work day?

So, now I’ve decided to address my spare bedroom the same way I would address an overwhelming issue at work. People say that it’s not good to take your work home with you, but if I spent my time at home the way I spend it at work I wouldn’t have issues like this. Somehow I’m very efficient, dedicated and thorough at work. It’s home that I don’t want to face. So, I’m facing it as if it were somebody else’s issue and suddenly it’s become an issue that it much less daunting. I don’t want to jinx myself, because I haven’t actually cleaned out the room or opened all of the boxes. But, I did empty one and peak into some of the others and I think that if I just make piles of like things then it will help 500%. (The boxes were packed rather hastily while I was at work by my ex-roommate who was inordinately anxious to have me out of his home.) So, I stopped to breathe. I stopped to write this down. I stopped to have a salted caramel mocha latte at Starbucks. (I actually was dreaming yesterday morning about a caramel coffee beverage before I woke up.) Now, I sit here at Starbucks and I think I’m ready to face the bedroom that has taken on dungeon characteristics in my mind.

Who knows what I could accomplish next?