What is the Deal

Watch this video from my favorite Christmas movie.  Don’t worry, it’ll open in a separate window.  I tried to embed it but the person who posted this set it up so it couldn’t be embedded and it was the only clip I could find with the crucial line in it.  If you don’t have much time, skip ahead and watch from 3:03 to about 3:30.  (Thanks a lot, Christmas Dave for ruining the flow of my blog post.)

Go over to YouTube and watch the clip.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Finished?  Great.  Now allow me to branch off into a seemingly completely unrelated topic, only to loop it all back around in then end…

I’ve got a bit of seemingly minimal crap going on in my life.  But of course, “a bit” of seemingly minimal crap can pile on and amount to one big pile of smelly, unpleasant…  stress.

The apartment I have lived in for the last four years has only one built-in source of heat.  It’s a small, gas-burning fireplace with asbestos (probably not asbestos) logs that glow when hot to make it look like they’re on fire.  The flame itself only resembles a smoulder and offers no ambiance to my apartment.  The fireplace gets pretty hot right where it is and according to “them” is supposed to be sufficient to heat my whole apartment.  In reality, it s about 85 degrees at the fireplace and about 65 degrees 8 feet away.  Plus, the fir place puts off an obnoxious odor that gives me a headache.  I choose not to use the fireplace and in the meantime, it is freezing in my apartment.

Yesterday I went to the Orthodontist for what was supposed to be my take-my-braces-off appointment.  Last month, the younger Dr. Tinloy (it’s a father and son practice) told me to pay close attention to my teeth over the next month and see if there was anything else I felt needed to be corrected and this month we’d talk about taking the braces off.  Realizing that literal perfection is not a possibility at my age, without extraction and implants, I’m pretty happy with the way my teeth look these days, but I did notice that the back teeth on the bottom are not in-line with the rest of my teeth.  I didn’t know if it really mattered, or if it was worthwhile (or even possible) to try to correct, but I didn’t want to look back on this experience in a couple of years and wish I had stuck it out and gotten those last two teeth straightened out.  When I pointed this out to the older Dr. Tinloy yesterday, he agreed that it could be done and even said he did think it was worthwhile.  So here I sit with braces still on my teeth and in some respects tighter than they’ve ever been.  I’m aware that after only one year and nearly finished I’m better off than most and my threshold for pain is pretty high so I haven’t had a lot of discomfort, but they’re a hassle and I’m ready to have them off.  In the end though, I chose to continue with the process and finish what I started.

Some time in the last month or so, some ne’er-do-wells managed to sneak some contraptions into the self-service check stands at several of the local Lucky’s grocery stores.  These contraptions record and somehow transmitted or conveyed the information from customer’s credit cards to the ne’er-do-wells who have been using the information fraudulently and causing a lot of trouble and heartache for the owners of those cards and the banks they’re attached to.  Sadly, I frequent two of those Lucky’s grocery stores and while, fortunately, I have not been a victim of any identity theft, or bank fraud, my bank, proactively, decided to cancel my debit card because I shopped at those stores.  They sent a replacement, which I received yesterday, but for several days I was without access to my money…

This was not as much of a hardship as it could have been, because, well…  I really don’t have any money.  I have $38.00 in the bank until payday which is this Friday.  I need to do Christmas shopping (soon, since most of my gifts are going out of state) and I have bills that are coming due soon, but for the moment, I’m OK, financially speaking.  Still $38.00 isn’t much and I would certainly prefer to have more money just hanging around…  I suppose we could all say that, though, no matter how much we actually have “hanging around.”

For a few weeks, ever since the very sniffly, coughy, non-hand-washy DMV worker, I’ve been struggling with cold-like symptoms.  First it was a couple of weeks of running nose and sniffles.  Then just as that was dwindling away, I started coughing… TWO. WEEKS. LATER.  The cough has persisted.  It’s not constant, though it is a nuisance.  It’s not productive and despite my best efforts it’s not offering any kind of relief to the irritation that causes it in the first place.  While I have not been short of breath, I have had a hard time getting a full, deep breath and when I try, it just makes me cough some more.  Also, after nearly three weeks of coughing, I have muscular pain in my chest and back when I cough.  Monday, I finally broke down and called my health care provider.  I wasn’t sure there was any point in me going in – I don’t go to the doctor for the common cold…  though maybe I should.  After a conversation with an “Advice Nurse” it was determined that I could probably make do with a “phone appointment” and a little while later, I spoke with a doctor who, after discussing my symptoms said, “it sounds like you’ve got bronchitis” and proceeded to put in three prescriptions for me; two inhalers and one bottle of pills.  Now, what I’m about to say is going to sound really ungrateful, so let me just specify that I KNOW I’m luckier than many people when it comes to health care coverage and yet, even for me, an employee of my healthcare provider, costs have gone up.  Everything is relative and compared to the coverage I used to have – $5.00 for prescriptions and $0.00 for everything else – the increased expenses suck.

Remember that my ATM/Debit card was cancelled and I did not have access to the $38.00 in the bank.  I happened to have very full jars of change on my dresser which I took to a coinstar machine and cashed in.  It gave me enough cash that I should have been able to get through this week without any fears of running out of lunch money.  My three prescriptions on Monday night cost me $45.00 and I had to pay another $1.00 for parking.  I had $49.00 cash in my pocket.  Suddenly, I didn’t have any more money for the week.

Monday, I reminded K of a task she needed to complete for me this week.  It’s a task that will take her all of 20 minutes to complete and normally she wouldn’t have to do it right now, but she’s on vacation next week and I’m taking another two weeks stay-cation starting at Christmas.  What she needs to do for me needs to be done and announced before I go on vacation, therefore, she needs to do it this week.  Her response?  “See this is why I asked you last week if there was anything else I owed you.”  After thinking of a number of less friendly things to say, I simply said, “You’re welcome,” and left it at that.  I chose not to make her attitude, my problem.

Yesterday, I had about an hour and a half between my Orthodontist appointment and my bi-weekly appointment with Deb and while I was at home I had a thought that caught me a little by surprise and when I expressed the thought to Deb, “With all this stuff going on, I’m not stressed out about it.  I’m doing just fine,” I got a mental picture of The Grinch in the scene above…

To paraphrase a little bit, “I’ve got all this crap going on, and I’m fineWhat is the DEAL?!?!?”

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Freaking Out

Tomorrow morning at O:dark o’clock (to those of you who aren’t complete morning whimps, that would be 7:00) I have to be AT the County Trauma Center to start my twelve hour day, doing I don’t even know what.  It’s a required component of my curriculum for the EMT Class and so naturally we waited until the very last two weeks of the semester to do this.

I haven’t thought too terribly much about it until now, but now it is upon me and I have to admit, I’m terrified.  When I don’t think about it then, of course, everything is fine, but when I do think about it, I feel sick to my stomach and light headed.  Thank God, I saved some of the Ativan my Psychiatrist gave me a while back to use until the Buspar kicked in.  I’ll defintely need that tomorrow morning.

I’ve never been to this hospital before, and while I found an address on-line and found it in my GPS in my car, I don’t know where the hospital is.  Normally, I’d have done a dry run by now, but I just haven’t had time and I won’t have time tonight unless I do it after class (which I might – although with as much as it’s ranined today, I’m not so sure it can be called a dry run.)

I’m flat broke right now, and it suddenly dawned on me last night that I didn’t know what the parking situation was or if there was a charge.  I called the hospital today and found out that there is a charge, but I spoke with a woman in the facilities department who told me she would validate my parking, if I come see her during her office hours.  That shouldn’t be a problem but if I don’t catch up with her, I’m kind of screwed.

No one has been able to tell me what to do when I get there.  Where am I going?  Who am I supposed to report to?  What should I come prepared for?  Whatever I’m doing, I just pray that it goes better than my Fire Department Ride Along did.

And yes, of course, I know, “it’ll all work out” and I’ll “do just fine” and all that other crap stuff people tell me when I freak out like this, but yeah…  Right now?  I’m freaking out.

I’m Still Here

To borrow a rather brilliant title from what is sure to be a rather horrendous mocumentary, “I’m Still Here.”  I know you’ve been missing me terribly!

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with clinical depression in my lifetime and as many of you probably know, anxiety, in one form or another is often the evil handmaiden of depression (as if Depression on its own isn’t evil enough.)  I have been no exception to that rule.  Pretty early into my relationship with Deb, my therapist (like, probably 5 minutes in) she “diagnosed” me with Social Phobia.

For some reason this frequently comes as a surprise to people, but I’m actually quite shy.  In person, anyway, I am very uncomfortable meeting new people, or putting myself in situations where I’m going to have to meet and interact with strangers, and even though intellectually, I know I shouldn’t worry about what people think of me there’s still that small, insecure, child-voice in the back of my head that remembers every tease and taunt and abuse I suffered at the hands of other, cruel, children as I was growing up and fears experiencing more of the same.

Deb also diagnosed me, to a much lesser degree, with generalized anxiety disorder.  It’s nothing major.  In fact, for the most part I think of it as buzzwords that loosely translate to “I don’t like the unknown!!!

Who does?

Honestly, I am most aware of anxiety in the car, as I drive to my therapy appointments.  I don’t know what I’m going to talk about (which is actually a better way to go in, even if it doesn’t feel like it) and therefore I don’t know what our 50 minutes holds and it makes me anxious.  I feel a sense of needing to “do it right” even though there supposedly is no right or wrong way to do it and I worry that I’ll get it wrong and that it will be bad.

I occasionally realize, especially when I’m deep in thought, that I’ve not taken a breath in a while.  Quite literally, I forget to breathe.  My mind mulls over the situation, sometimes a very stressful thing, and I start to feel cramps in my stomach, both a feeling nausea and the potential on-set of diarrhea, and only as I feel a sense of panic start to come over me do I realize, “oh hey! I haven’t inhaled recently.”  A couple of deliberate, deep breaths, and the cramping starts to subside, the nausea disappears and the need to rush to the toilet subsides.  And then I continue to mull over whatever I’m mulling and I forget to breathe again and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Now, let’s be fair.  I’ve learned a lot in my… five(?) years of therapy and the anxiety, both social and generalized, has lessened quite a bit (though, sadly, not been completely dispensed with.)  I know what the physical symptoms mean, and I know that, usually, a few deep breaths will go a long way to remedy them.  Sometimes that’s enough to do away with the anxiety and sometimes it’s just enough to make me aware that it’s happening and to try to manage it as best I can.  (By the way, I’ve had to remind myself to breath, no fewer than 12 times just as I’ve written this much of this post.  Almost a “chewing gum and walking” effect.  I can’t seem to breath and type at the same time, right now.  I realize I’m not breathing, I have to stop typing so I can focus my energy on taking a deep breath.  There’s a reason for this.)

Up until recently, I’ve felt like I had a much better handle on these feelings.

~~~~~~~

When I decided to take this EMT class, I knew I was signing up for a lot of work.  I knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk and that I’d have to put a lot of time and energy into it.  I had no idea how much time and energy it would require.  We have to cover three chapters of textbook a week and we have tests over each chapter each week.  THREE TESTS!!  These chapters are anywhere from 40 to 70 pages long and they’re filled with information that is important and needs to be retained and remembered.

My instructor goes out of his way to be an asshole and his general attitude and demeanor are very difficult for me to tolerate.  He’s not friendly, or kind, or supportive.  He’s determined to make the class as uncomfortable and unwelcoming as possible.  He’s doing it on purpose because the job is a high stress job and he thinks he’s preparing us for it by doing things this way, he has said so, more than once.  He might even be right and I understand that way of thinking.  But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be better to make the class as conducive to learning as possible so that we can know our stuff and then when we get out in the field we can focus solely on dealing with the stress, because we’ll have the knowledge down?

The class is very disorganized.  We have the tests first thing Monday night, usually and then if there’s time and he has his act together (which he frequently doesn’t) he’ll lecture, but there’s never time to do lecture on all three chapters that we’ll be testing over the following Monday night, so it really does depend on the reading.  Wednesday nights are supposed to be about Skills.  We break up into groups and he assigns each group to one of the volunteers from the last class who go over the skills with us, which is all well and good, except they’re not experts and as likely as not, they’re not getting it completely right anyway, and then when we demonstrate what we’ve learned for one of the two instructors we get called out for doing it wrong and made to feel stupid when in fact we demonstrated it exactly the way the volunteer had shown us, (for example, using a pediatric non-rebreathing mask on an adult sized mannequin – thanks for that, volunteer whose name I can’t remember!)

So every Monday we have three tests, one over each of three chapters that we’re supposed to read and learn and then we have not very good lecture over the materials in one (maybe two) of the next chapters.  Wednesday we go over skills and are constantly reminded that there’s going to come a time – though I’m not at all clear about when that is – when we will have to actually test over these skills and if we don’t get them right on the first or second try (except for airway at which we only get one shot) then he will kick us out of the class.

The purpose of this class is not to qualify me to get a job as an EMT if that’s what I decide I want to do.  The purpose of this class is to qualify me to take a National Registry exam to become licensed as an EMT.  As if the stress of this class weren’t enough, there is then additional stress about when and whether I’ll take and pass the written and demonstrative portions of the National Registry exam.

I’ve heard conflicting reports about what the pay for an EMT is.  Some reports have it as low as $16.00 an hour while others have it at $60K a year.  If I decided to pursue a job as an EMT that means a cut in pay, but how much of one is still up in the air.  And while I decided to take this class first and foremost because I wanted to know the information, the more time and energy I spend on it, the more I think it might be the direction I want to go and if I go through all this and then can’t make the career change, then what has been the point?  (I do recognize that this is not entirely rational thinking, but it’s still among the thoughts that are going through my head.)

I spend hours and hours and hours reading my textbook and highlighting information (I’ve completely drained three highlighters, which either means I’m highlighting too much (likely) or there’s a lot of important information that needs to be marked.)  I spend at least two hours a day at work, most days, reading or working in the work book.  I have hardly watched any television at all in the last three weeks and once I finish preparing food for the next day (or on the nights before a class, the next two days), cooked and eaten dinner, I spend a couple of hours at night reading and have been staying up way too late.

I read and read and read, and then when I’m finished with a chapter, I go through the review materials in the back of the chapter, I go over the sample questions on the last page (to which I have found no answer key, so I have no idea if my answers are correct or not.)

Then I break out the work book which does not get turned in, but is purely for my own study purposes.  I go through the materials in the work book, anywhere from three to twelve pages and then check my answers in the back.  I usually do pretty well on the mix and match, multiple choice and true and false sections, though not as well as I feel like I should be doing.  But the critical thinking sections are harder.  And the written answer questions are —  I don’t even know how to explain it.  I read the answers they give in the back and I realize it made sense and I remember all the information from when I was reading…  But I couldn’t formulate it into an answer on my own…  I don’t know what that means for my ability to make use of the information in the real world.

And then as if that weren’t enough, I download the three chapters of the book I’m working with to iTunes and then into my iPhone and I listen to them. ALL. THE. TIME.  I listen when I’m working.  I listen while I’m driving.  I listen while I’m grocery shopping.  I listen while I’m preparing food. AND I LISTEN IN MY SLEEP.  All in the hopes of retaining most of the pertinent information.  I never feel like I am.  I never feel like I know this stuff backwards and forwards and every Monday I walk into class worried that I am not going to pass the tests we have to take that day.

When I’m reading, I stress because I don’t feel like I’m getting it and I think about all the other things in my life that I’m not getting done and then I realize that my mind is wandering so I have to stop and go back to the last thing I remember reading and start over.  (By the way, I read out loud to help focus my attention on the text.  How can I read out loud, say the words, and not be thinking about them at all?  Doesn’t seem like that should be possible.  But apparently it is.)

When I’m not reading, like right now, I feel guilty, like I should be and that if I don’t get to it, I might not finish reading in time and it stresses me out.

I worry that I’m not reading enough.

I worry that I’m not learning what I’m reading.

I worry that I’m not going to pass the tests.

I worry that I’m not getting the practice I need to learn the skills.

I worry that I will learn the skills and still bomb the test, even if only out of stress and fear.

I worry that I’m not equipped to handle what’s coming when we get into the trauma portion of the materials (I don’t have a great track record with pictures of graphic things.  I don’t get sick or throw up, though that might be better.  But in my lifetime I have passed out as a result of looking at pictures or reenactments of serious injuries and I worry that this will be a problem now.)

I worry that I won’t make a good impression, or be able to handle myself, when I have to go on a ride-along later in the semester.

I worry that I won’t make it far enough in the class to have the opportunity to go on the ride-along.

I worry that I won’t be able to pass the National Registry Exam.

I worry that I won’t be able to make a good impression on a hiring manager when I start looking for a job.

I worry that I won’t be able to find something that I want to do with this new knowledge and skill.

I worry that I will get a job, only to find out that I can’t live on the salary, or that I can’t handle the working conditions or the hours or the stress.

I worry that I’ll get to the end of all this and realize that it’s not for me and feel like I’ve wasted my time and energy.

I worry about all of this, ALL of the time and I can’t shut my brain up and focus solely on what’s in front of me, the learning.

I’ve been crampy and nauseated and diarrhea-y for three weeks (you’re welcome.)  And as I was driving over to my therapy appointment on Tuesday and feeling all those things, plus the not at all unusual anxiety of “what am I going to talk about today?”, I suddenly reached the very rational realization that, “Hello!  I’ve been feeling so crappy and stressed out because I’ve been living at a heightened state of anxiety since the class began.”

So I asked Deb about Anti-Anxiety medication.  Deb is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (what that means exactly I don’t know) so she is knowledgable, but not expert about medication.  It also means she can not prescribe anything.  She told me what she knows, and helped me to eliminate some specific possibilities (I can not go on a benzodiazepine – Valium, Xanex – because they’re too “stoney” and I wouldn’t be able to function, or retain information while taking them.)  But there are some other possibilities and she suggested it might not be a bad idea to talk to my psychiatrist about it.  Honestly, I’m a little reluctant because after five and half years on antidepressants and feeling dependant on them (I’ve now been off them for about 22 months) I don’t want to rely upon more pills to regulate my life.  On the other hand, I’ve never been under this much pressure before and if it’s a temporary situation with a temporary solution, maybe I can work with that.

I contacted the Psychiatrist that I last saw at my healthcare provider and he informed me that because he hadn’t seen me in over 2 years, I had to start fresh with the intake process, which is funny because when it was all said and done, I still ended up with an appointment with him. BUT, the earliest appointment I could get is on Friday, September 17th.  What’s wrong with this picture?

I was actually going to end this post right there, because, I at least, think that’s funny, and I like to end my posts with a humorous note.  However it seems like a good idea to add a little bit of a reality check to this as well…

Up until now, we have taken our tests in groups.  Each week, we split up into our little work groups and we get one copy of the test and put all our names on one answer sheet and submit the one answer sheet with our “collectively arrived upon answers”.  Starting next week we will take our tests as individuals and it will be every man for himself.  (Don’t think I haven’t worried about that too.)  But here’s the reality:

1) I have not once, so far, been unable to finish the reading before Monday night’s class.  (I was going to add some “but”s and some qualifiers, but let’s just leave it at that.  Reading gets done in time.)

2) Somehow I became the default test-reader-out-louder-guy, possibly because I am able to speak clearly and rapidly and buzz through the test at a rapid pace, or possibly because I felt the need to take control and feel like we were doing everything we could to get through the test in the time allotted.  I usually read the question out and then select the answer I think is right.   I told my group-mates, “I’m going to just do this, if you think I’m answering wrong, speak up.”  They were all OK with that, and hardly, if ever, disagreed with my selection.  Either I actually do know the stuff when I need to, or they’re completely clueless and allowing me to lead them down the wrong path, except…

3) We finished our three tests last night (yes it was Wednesday but there was no class on Monday for the holiday) in record time.  We were completely finished more than half an hour before the other five groups.  I started to worry that maybe that meant something bad and just as I was verbalizing that to my group-mates the instructor asked, from across the room, “Are you guys done already?”  We confirmed that we had and he made some sort of comment designed to shake our nerve.  But then the Teaching Assistant spoke up and said, “No, they’re actually doing really well.”  He had already graded our three tests and knew our results.  I asked him, “We did well tonight, or we’re doing well over-all?” We haven’t gotten anything back, or any way of knowing our grades to date.  The TA glanced back at the computer screen and said, “Well, everybody did badly on Chapter 5” (chapter 5 was vitals, so, you know, that’s bad) “but over-all you guys are doing well.”

As of last night, we have an 88% in the class.  Naturally, an A would be preferable but I was a C average student in high school; I will not be complaining about an 88%!

I know all the real, rational facts about this situation.  I have a job that I’m not in danger of losing and that pays a decent salary.  If I fail (or get kicked out of) this class, I can take it again next semester (at a different school where this instructor isn’t teaching).  I’m probably not going to fail or get kicked out and I’ll do OK on the materials and testing and the certification.  I own the textbook so I can review whenever, however often and for however long I want and I can learn this stuff inside and out, at my own pace without all the pressure, once this class is over.  Time and experience and exposure will over-power any anxiety about the job and the injuries I might witness and eventually, it’ll become second nature to me, just like my job today became second nature to me.

It would be nice to think that having this rational knowledge would help to alleviate the anxiety, but you know what?  It doesn’t! Not one iota!

I sure do hope the psychiatrist can give me something to help!

More Than You Bargain For

Forgive me Internet, for I have sinned.  It has been eleven days since my last post.  In the last eleven days, I’ve been so busy, doing nothing, I can’t even tell you… Except, that’s kind of what I’m here for.  To tell you.  What I’ve been so busy.  Not doing.  It’s all very confusing.

In the last few days it’s come to my attention, on two separate occasions that I’m a liar.  Well, not a liar, exactly, just not entirely truthful.  One person, who barely knows me, but with whom I’m developing a new friendship, and another person who does know me but who I haven’t seen in a long time have each asked me how I’m doing, what’s new, what’s going on in my life.  On both occasions, I started to answer them with my standard answer:  “Oh, you know, nothing much.  Same ole same ole.  Just working.”

Before I let the words escape my lips, or my finger tips in one case, though, I stopped myself and thought for a moment about the true answer to those questions.  And I thought about something Deb said to me once about how I don’t allow intimacy to happen.  I tend to not let people in.  So I did.  I answered them both honestly… and they both ran away screaming as if their hair was on fire.  OK, fine.  That isn’t true.  But I always fear that is what will happen and I often think that when I do tell the truth they’re secretly thinking, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!  Why did I ask???”

Anyway, the truth is there’s so much stuff going on in my life and in my head right now that I’m finding it very difficult to actually accomplish anything.  Why is it that when we’ve got things pressing on us, we’d rather just shut down and put it all off until it becomes even more stressful than it already was?  Anyone else do that?  No?  Just me?  OK, then!  Moving on.

A lot of what’s going on with me just goes back to the age old question of balance, trying to fit it all in and garner some sense of satisfaction and fulfillment out of life.

A few of the staff in my office and I are taking a High Rise Fire Safety Director Certification class.  There are enough of us doing it that they send the instructor to us and the class is Tuesday mornings here at my office building.  But it is a full fledged Continuing Education course with homework assignments each week.  Next Tuesday we have a Mid-Term test.  At the end of the class which will be June 29, we have a Final Exam.  On June 15 I have a three page term paper due and on June 22 I have to give an oral presentation about it to the class.  The instructor keeps telling us that you have to work pretty hard to fail this class, but it’s bringing up a lot of old anxieties about my ability to perform properly in an educational setting.  (I’m one of them new fangled, non-traditional learners, who doesn’t always do so well with classroom teaching.)  This anxiety is also feeding into my next topic for discussion.

I took the plunge and am officially enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course at the local Community College.  It begins on August 23 and goes through late December.  This class will be Monday and Wednesday evenings after work, three hours each night, one and half hours of Lecture and one and a half hours of Lab.  Michelle’s older sister is going to take the class with me and she’s actually taken it before (she let her certification lapse so she has to take it again) so it’ll be nice to a) have someone in the class that I know and 2) have someone that can help me if I get lost.  (Also, she’s eight years older than I am so I know I won’t be the oldest person in the class.)

Before the class starts though, I have to have two separate Tuberculosis (TB) skin tests and the first two of three Hepatitis B vaccination injections.  I also have to have taken Standard First Aid (I’m currently certified in Basic First Aid) and CPR for Medical Professionals (currently certified in Basic Adult CPR).  I’ve gotten the first TB test and the first Hep B shot (something I never wanted to do) and have to go back on June 18th, for the next round.  Fortunately, my health insurance covers the shots and tests and my employer is going to pay for the First Aid/CPR training and my textbooks.  For some reason I’m not being charged tuition for the class.

I have a number of relatively small deadlines looming over me with regard to my normally uninteresting, uneventful job.  I’m working on a Newsletter for the Emergency Response Program I run and I have a self-imposed deadline of June 10th for it to be done.  I have yet to create my contribution to the newsletter because I don’t know how much room there will be for it (It’s a game section).  I have begun the layout process and have yet to receive two articles that are supposed to go into it.  While June 10th is my deadline, there’s an absolute, drop-dead date of June 15th, because I want to distribute it at a Floor Warden Meeting the morning of the 16th.

I need to make some acquisitions for the Emergency Response Program.  They’re not even large acquisitions or tremendously difficult to accomplish, they just take a little effort and I haven’t found the time and the gumption at the same time to make those happen.  The High Rise Fire Safety Director class we’re taking is pointing out a number of procedural changes that need to be made in our program and while my manager is in agreement with the need for changes, getting him pinned down to discuss and agree upon the changes and then implement them is another matter.

My Google Reader has been filling up.  It’s probably more information than you want to know that I only seem to find time, lately, to read that while I’m on the toilet, but I want to try and keep up with all the blogs I read and finding the time for it has been a bit tough of late.  The “good” news is that I’ve been spending more time in said reading position lately, because my knee got infected from my recent trip and I was taking an anti-biotic for it which came with a not so lovely side effect, which the doctor told me would probably happen and just to “muscle through it.”  Fortunately, I took the last of that course of anti-biotics today so now I will hopefully start feeling better in that regard.

I allowed the discomfort of my knee to stop me exercising for the last three weeks now.  It finally feels better (still a bit of a sore but it doesn’t hurt any longer) and I’m recommitting myself to getting fit starting tomorrow.  I’m going to do the Couch to 5K program that I think I’ve mentioned before.  I have an iPhone app that makes it really simple and I had already completed the first week of the program when I had my fall.  So starting Monday I’m going to start that program from the beginning.  The program is nine weeks long so by the first week of August I should be able to run 30 minutes uninterrupted. The rest of the time, I’ve got the pre-prescribed weight lifting program from the Abs Diet program I’m still using.  (By the way, if anyone is keeping track, I’m down to 259 pounds – 50 pounds from a year-ish ago.)

Things are a bit chaotic at home too.  Because of my intent to be healthy, I am making a point of making food and bringing it with me to work.  So everyday, when I leave work, which tends not to be as early as I want it to be, I have a regimine I have to follow when I get home:

  • Change my clothes
  • Feed the cat
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Prepare food for the following day
  • Prepare dinner for that night (by now it’s after 8:00 and I shouldn’t be eating so late)
  • Eat dinner
  • Iron clothes for the next day

I’m still trying to maintain my determination to put less priority on television, but I have programs piling up in my DVR.  Plus there are some shows that need to be watched before Twitter or some other internet outlet spoils them for me.  Dancing with the Stars and The Biggest Loser are two such shows and wouldn’t you know, they’re two hour shows that end late (And the DWTS Results Show interferes with The Biggest Loser)  Fortunately, they’re both over for the season but they’re going to be back in September and that’s going to be tough, with my class being on Mondays and Wednesdays.

My house is a mess and in desperate need of cleaning.  Fortunately, this is a long week-end and, at least in this regard, it’s fortunate that I don’t have plans with Lil’B this week-end so I can get caught up on some of these things.  Tomorrow night I’m going with some friends/acquaintances/complete strangers to see Sex And The City 2, and I’ll have to do some grocery shopping this week-end but other than that I have no specific plans.

I’ve been absolutely exhausted lately.  Trying to get to bed at a reasonable time, but somehow, it usually ends up being between 11:00 and midnight and then I have to get up “early” for work.  That hasn’t been working out terribly well and on Wednesday this week, I was actually later than can be considered acceptable.  We have our staff meeting on Wednesdays at 9:30 and I didn’t get to work until about 9:35.  Fortunately, K was going to be in late from a dental appointment and the meeting was canceled, but I didn’t know that and there’s no excuse for being that late when I know there’s something happening I need to be around for.

With all the deadlines and pressures I’m feeling I’m finding it difficult to focus on anything and buckle down to get the work done.  I have looked at the dashboard for my blog everyday, and everyday, I think, “I need to write something.”  But I don’t even try, because I know it will take a while to do and I should be spending that time on some of these other things I’ve outlined, only I manage to pitter the time away doing nothing at all instead and it’s really rather frustrating.  I haven’t had time to even look at my book for weeks.  I managed to push through the road block I had been stuck with and I’m ready to move forward with the story, but I’m having a hard time finding the time to focus on the task and get the work done without interruptions or distractions.  My creativity is being thoroughly stifled and I’m finding that difficult to accept.

And as if that weren’t enough stress in my life, things are getting tough with Mischa.  He is hovering right around his 18th birthday.  Since I found him abandoned the summer before my senior year in high school, I can’t know exactly how old he was, or when he was born, but the vet then told us he was about 10 weeks old.

Mischa has always been a little bit of a disciplinary/behavioral problem.  I frequently had problems with him urinating on carpeting.  It was fairly typical territorial marking behavior, I think, but it still happened.  I did the best I could to control his opportunities (I learned early on, not to leave blankets, rugs or other fabric items out for him to soil.  I did my best to limit his temptation) but it happened.  Everywhere I’ve ever lived he has peed on the carpet and all I could do was discipline him and do my best to clean it up.  When I was looking for my current apartment, I specifically wanted an un-carpeted apartment.  I looked at a place that had ceramic tile floors through-out.  I liked the place but it didn’t work out.  And then I found my current apartment and it has hard wood floors and I thought it was perfect…

For a long time it was perfect.  But, as they say, all good things must end.  I had purchased a carpet covered cat tree for him so he’d a have a kitty suitable place to lie.  One day he peed on the bottom layer of the cat tree and some of it ran over onto the floor.  I did my best to clean it up, but he did it a few more times so I got rid of the cat tree.  He kept peeing on the floor, so I disciplined him, scrubbed the floor, used an order neutralizing product on it and pushed a cedar chest into that corner of the room.  He peed on the cedar chest and on the floor in front of it.  (All of this happens when I’m not around, by the way.)

Finally, I had no choice but to restrict his access.  I have a pocket door that separates the kitchen/dinette from the rest of the apartment and his litter pan and bowls were in the dinette already, so when I left the house and when I went to bed at night, I would put him in there and close the door, hoping for the best.  Every morning when I got up and every evening when I came home, I opened the door, from which he would shoot like a bolt of lightening and I would grab the broom to sweep all the litter he had scattered around into a pile to clean up… twice a day, every day.

About two and a half weeks ago, he peed in front of the back door, less than two feet from his litter pan.  I disciplined him.  I cleaned it up.  I put down the odor neutralizer.  I hoped for the best.  And the next time I sprung him, I found the puddle right back where it had been.  Every time I released him from the kitchen for ten days I found his puddle of pee at my back door.  For the first time in his life, I started to hate him.  I couldn’t over-look his poor behavior.  I couldn’t make any kind of excuses.  I was getting angry at him.  I didn’t know what to do and for the first time in my life, I contemplated whether euthanasia was an acceptable solution to this problem.  I nipped that thought in the bud right away because as much as I hate what he’s done to my environment and my landlords property, I can not accept that killing him for misbehavior is a solution.  But I was stuck.

Finally the last realistic solution came to me and last Friday after work, I bought a cage for him to live in when I’m not home.  It’s big enough to hold his litter pan and his bowls with some space between them, though he tends to move the bowls close to the litter pan and then scatter litter over them.  Now every day, I come home and have to sweep the litter he still manages to scatter out of the cage into a pile, let him out of the cage and then clean up the cage and bowls before I can feed him dinner.  It’s still taking a lot of work for me, and he hates being in the cage, but at least he’s not peeing on the floor anymore.

I’ve been watching him closely to see if he shows signs of being sick.  He still get’s around fine.  He still can jump up on my lap, when I finally am able to sit down in my chair, without difficulty.  He doesn’t seem like there is anything wrong with him.  And yet, I have an uneasy feeling.  I sense that we’re running out of time.  I have thought that before and it turned out to be wrong and maybe this time will be wrong too.

But I feel badly, because in a way…  I’m ready for him to go.