The Words Will Come

Just start writing….  The words will come…  Just start writing…

That’s what the great and powerful “they” always say, right?  Just start writing, the words will come.  And the truth is, the great and powerful “they” are not wrong.  This strategy has worked for me many times before.  It’s just that, there’s a lot of stuff going on and swirling around in my brain, and I haven’t quite figured out how to sort it all out yet.  How much of it to share and how much of it to keep to myself.

Despite my best efforts I’m still inclined to worry a bit about what readers of this site will think of what I put here, and yet, I’m actually quite proud of my last post.  Yes, I discussed some “mature themes” and yes I admitted to some activities that, in the past, I would have completely kept to myself, as much out of embarrassment, as anything else, but I think it’s a good thing that I posted that.  I spend a lot of time in this sort of “in-between” stage of life where I feel like, I shouldn’t do anything I’m ashamed of and therefore I don’t do anything I’m ashamed of…  Yet I’m ashamed of things I really shouldn’t be, and therefore, this philosophy holds me back.

There is an excellent chance that I’m confusing shame with fear, or shame with unfounded guilt which causes fear, or some other tremendously deep and impressive introspection that I’m not quite clear about and obviously can’t manage to articulate…

I’ve come a long way in the last several years of blogging, and even before that.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve gained a considerable amount of emotional and mental independence (not to be confused with the physical and financial independence that I’ve had since I was 22).  But “a considerable amount” can be just a drop in the bucket when you’re coming from a place of such dependence…  Or co-dependence.  There are still a good many subjects and issues about which I can hear my mother’s voice, or more to the point, her judgmental, disappointed noises.  Tsking and groaning and sighing (oh my!).  And it’s not like she even needs to know about my behavior and my activities, but it doesn’t matter if the physical being knows anything because the non-corporial manifestation of her that exists in my subconscious is ever-present and equally judgmental.  And, of course, I think I’m inclined to project that judgement and condemnation onto other people both local and afar.  I imagine the gasps and the shaking heads of the people who might read my words, the disappointment that might come from having the image of me, which they have created, sullied by the revelation of the things I don’t dare say.

I am aware, as I write these words, that I’m creating a proverbial mountain out of what many would see as an equally proverbial mole hill.  I am also aware that, while I do value the regular readers of this blog and would hate to put anyone off, concealing things about myself and allowing the fears of other’s opinions to hold me back is not only destructive and hurts me more than it does anyone else, it is potentially more destructive and hurtful than not acting because of the fear.

I’m human.  I’m alive.  I’m male (stereotype).  And like everyone else, I have needs, both physical and emotional that need to be fulfilled, one way or another. The truth is, while I’m over here hiding from that fact, all of you are probably reading this blog and assuming it; assuming that I take measures to have my needs fulfilled (trust me, I do), you just don’t necessarily want to know what those measures are.  Certainly, there is a fine line between open and honest sharing, not leaving out pertinent details, and this turning into a very different kind of blog from what it has ever been before.  

Prior to the vague implications and poorly shrouded subliminal information in my last post, I believe I have discussed specific sexual activity on my part, exactly one time on this blog.  One time in five and a half years.  Meanwhile, any regular readers probably haven’t given my sexual endeavors much conscious thought, but have unconsciously assumed that I have not lived as a eunuch.  Society, as a whole, tends to frown on free and open discussions of sex, or so I have generally believed.  Yet as I write that I realize it happens far more frequently than I am comfortable with, and I have to question why that is.

Why am I so uncomfortable with it?  Why is it so hard for me to discuss it?

Certainly, it is, in part, due to my lack of experience and a fear that engaging in such conversations will result in any number of uncomfortable situations where I can not contribute as much to the conversation as people might expect me to; something I generally prefer to avoid.  But part of it is because of that non-corporial manifestation of my mother that exists in my subconscious, which is ever-present and tremendously judgmental.  It comes from a  damaged place within my psyche that is influenced by my mother’s constant over-vilification of sex during my childhood to the point that sex scares me.

There.  I’ve said it.  Sex scares me.  It doesn’t just make me nervous or uncomfortable because it’s “new”, it scares the ever-loving shit out of me in a way I don’t even know how to combat.

Logically, I know it shouldn’t.  Intellectually, I know that sex is a perfectly natural, and healthy thing.  Through the power of study, meditation and independent thought, I have even arrived at the conclusion that I believe pre-marital sex is not only not wrong, it’s important and healthy.  Reasonable, not overly graphic discussions of sex in general, are not something to be afraid of and shy away from, particularly when they lay the groundwork for a further story…

Yet any discussion of my own sexuality (not my sexual orientation, but my sexuality) makes me very uncomfortable and self conscious.

…..

I have a date tomorrow night, and I have mixed feelings about it.  I think it’s a date.  I didn’t really think it was a date when it was discussed, but it seems that it is a date.

Everything I have said here that leads up to that revelation does not, in any way, mean I think there’s an expectation or obligation for sex tomorrow.  In fact quite to the contrary, I think it’s clearly understood that sex will not be happening.  Rather, it’s about how this date came about, and how my shame, prevented me from writing about it before now.

In this wonderful, 21st century world in which we live, there is an iPhone app for absolutely everything.  Seriously.  According to one source in October, 2013 there were approximately 1,000,000 apps in the Apple App Store and that number just keeps going up.  If you can realistically conceive of it, there is probably an app out there for it, already.  And society (and men – stereotype) being what it is, there is more than one app for on-line dating and people-meeting available that uses the GPS signal in phones to show you the profiles of any number of people within a certain distance of where you happen to be holding your phone and looking at that app’s screen.  The first time I ever heard of one of these apps, I downloaded it on my phone, because it was free, and I was curious to see how it worked.  I never had any delusions that I would use the app as it was intended.  I still don’t.  That’s not my style.  But because I have discovered that my, once thought to be impeccable, gaydar is, in actually, completely for shit, I thought it might be interesting to see the faces of other gay men in the area, see if there was anyone I recognized and might, therefore, meet organically and get to know, in real life.  Of course, I wasn’t about to post my own face, because I would be mortified if anyone knew I had even heard of the app, let alone actually downloaded it and look at it once in a while.  I rarely initiated conversations with anyone, and even more rarely did anyone initiate conversations with, or respond to, me.  When they did, it was, without exception, overtures toward having anonymous sex.

The block button is my friend.

Through all the bullshit that went down with The Guy this summer, one good thing did come out of it.  Well–  He doesn’t, by any means deserve all of the credit, it was the whole unfortunate experience with that short-lived job.  From the day I walked in the door, I was determined not to hide who I was or try to keep secret the details of my existence that have been so hard for me to freely share, verbally, in the past.  It was a fresh start in a new place, with a new group of people, and I was determined to start things on the right foot.  The Guy figured it out, or believed he did, from the very first day.  So, apparently, did my boss, though she couldn’t say so until I revealed it to her.  All she said was “I knew you were ‘family’.  Well, I was pretty sure, anyway.”  I learned to be more open about myself.  I learned not to fear people’s reactions.  (To this day, I have not had one person outside of my family react badly to learning that I am gay.)  I learned to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may, because these people were all new in my life and if they learned the truth up front and they didn’t like it, well, there was no loss.

Thanks to The Guy, I started to feel better about myself, physically.  Again, he doesn’t get all the credit.  Over the last two and a half years, I have lost approximately 70 pounds.  The man I see in the mirror today, is definitely not the man I saw back then.  That man’s clothes don’t fit me anymore.  I still have a long way to go, but I’ll gladly take what I can get.  I’ve learned to appreciate my body in its current form, to take control over the things I can, and not obsess over the things I can’t.  But at least for a little while there, I believed that, not only did someone find me attractive, but someone who I was attracted to, found me attractive.  Due to the nature and circumstances of our involvement and the end thereof, I temper any excitement at that fact with a healthy dose of he-was-full-of-shit, but at the very least, I learned what it feels like to appreciate having someone pursue me due to physical attraction.

I posted a face picture on the app, and filled in a simple profile telling people what I was about, and what I was and, more importantly, what I was not looking for.  I tried to put the hurt and shame of my experience with The Guy behind me and see what came next.  Suddenly, out of the blue, people started initiating chats with me.  Talking to me.  Having real conversations with me.  Much of the time, those conversations end with “so when can we hook up?”.

The block button is still my friend.

Early this week, I crossed paths with a guy we’ll call “No. 1” (not for any reason you’re likely to think of, just go with it) who was deemed to be a “likely match” by some inexplicable algorithm the site uses to suggest people you might like, based on your reactions to their previous suggestions.  No. 1 had a very relatable profile, with a statement about relationships, fidelity, and where he stands on the subject that I happened to like quite a bit.  As it happened, he hit the little “like” button on my picture and I hit the little “like” button on his, and the app was kind enough to let us each know that the other “liked” us and suggested we chat.  So we did.  And he was a nice guy.  And he appealed to me.  And we exchanged phone numbers and I suggested that we should talk again.  I even considered asking him if we could meet for coffee or something sometime, but I decided against it.  The next morning, he sent me a text message and asked if I might be free on Saturday after he gets off work at 8:00.  I am and said as much, and we set up what I thought of as “meeting and getting to know each other better, face to face.”  I know. I know.  That’s pretty much what a date is.   Only, I didn’t think of it that way.  I didn’t think of it as a prelude to anything.  I thought of it as meeting a potentially nice person and getting to know him.  (Again, pretty much what a date is.)

My mind is reeling with this.  Really, it wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if it is a date.  It wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if I enjoyed our date.  It’s just…  I admit it.  I’m terribly skittish.  And it pisses me off.  It’s not fair, that this one experience with this one, completely fucked up guy, has done such lasting damage in me.  I want to move past it.  I want to put it out of my head and forget about The Guy entirely.  I sure as shit don’t want to let him affect how I handle dating going forward.

But I’m so afraid of taking another chance.

I’m not sure I’m open to a relationship right now.  I’m not sure I’m ready to date right now.  When I agreed to meet No. 1 and we settled on a time and place, I thought, “Great!  That’s that.  I’ll see him on Saturday and we’ll have lots to talk about,” and I’m sure we will, only, he continued to text and talk to me after we settled the plans.  He has texted me every day since then, and I can’t quite explain why that bothers me.  It just does.  He has made some fairly innocent comments here and there that really have me on edge.  I’m probably reading too much into it, but he has made some comments which elude to the prospect of a relationship with me and I’m so not in that place.  I mean, we haven’t even met yet.

And all I can think is, “Oh my God!  I’m The Guy!”

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Crushed

“What are you doing, showing off in that dress?”

The office is so small, and so open that there is no chance that I won’t hear the conversations of other’s as they take place. This time around it was The Guy talking to his manager who was, apparently wearing a very flattering dress that showed off her figure… I guess. I don’t pay attention to such things…

The thing is, he used to make those comments to me.

“Don’t be walkin’ around in here, showing of that ass!”, he would text me. I didn’t really know what he meant. I have, all along, used my anti-decision making, decision-making tactic (or ADMDMT) of picking the next pair of work-worthy pants out of the drawer and then finding the first shirt on the closet rail that went with the pants I was wearing. As it happens, I have lost about 65 pounds from my heaviest weight and some of my clothes fit better than others. He liked the view of them all…. I liked to wear my smaller sizes, because they fit better and make me feel better about myself, actually fitting into them despite their significantly smaller sizes. I admit to you, the reader, that I wear those clothes proudly and with confidence – Not because I am “showing off” for The Guy, but because I am happy to be thinner and in better shape. And yes, I was aware that some of the articles would elicit… Well illicit comments, from The Guy. But I never at any point picked clothing, based on how I thought The Guy would respond to it. I still wear the larger sizes too, I don’t have enough of any one size clothing to call it a “wardrobe” so I cycle through them. As it happened, the “fat clothes” came back around in the cycle, right about the same time that The Guy, broke my heart. He has interpreted that as some sort of “keep your hands off” message from me, when in fact it’s just “what was next in line”.

This time, the comment wasn’t aimed at me.

“Just ignore me,” I texted him, “because I’m sure I’m being unreasonable, but that ‘don’t be showing off…’ comment to (his boss’s name) just now, kinda bugs me…”

He replied “Well… She’s showing off her body today just like you used to do…”

Used to do

“Yeah. That’s why it bother’s me.” I answered. Using the same “complimentary” terminology, with someone else, feels decidedly (to me) like having been forgotten or ignored. It certainly makes me doubt his sincerity toward me.

“I see the statements as very different. We had a physical connection / attraction. I complimented her… Very Different.”

had a physical connection

“That’s a big part of why this was a bad idea in the first place,” I told him. “Sooner or later, probably sooner, your interests will move elsewhere and I’m not going to enjoy watching / listening to it happening.”

“I don’t think I’ll be engaging in amorous activity anytime soon. I mean, I’d do you. And I’d do (senior boss’s name), just ’cause it’s cool to hook-up with the big boss… but now I wouldn’t do you because I know it makes you and me crazy.”

Seeing as how he never “did me” in the first place, I’m not sure where this conclusion of “makes [us] crazy” comes from.

I was already struggling with some jealousy just watching his interactions with people, before the poop hit the fan. Now that it has, I’m really not happy to hear him using the same lines on other people that he did on me… It cheapens whatever it was that we had.

I began to think better of the whole conversation and told him, “You’re probably taking this all wrong and feel like you need to modify your behavior to ‘protect’ me. That wasn’t my point at all.”

“No, I’m acting the way I alway have… I am an extrovert and I compliment folks, not with intentions to sleep with them, but because I like to see their faces light up when I say something flattering or nice to them.”

And the fact that he’s using the same terminology and tone that he used with me, the person he made a choice to reject out of hand, is, apparently, completely unimportant…

Tears On My Pillow; The End Of An Era

A couple weeks ago, before fleeing the country, my friend Karin and I had a conversation about depression. Fortunately for her, she doesn’t have this affliction and she admitted to not really understanding it. She didn’t know much about the clinical types of depression and so I explained my “condition” to her.

My version of clinical depression, the one that – for those of you who don’t know – is the most common type, is called dysthymia. Basically people with dysthymia have a “low grade” depression pretty much all of the time, with occasional lapses into more severe depression and, at least in my experience, even less frequent bouts of feeling not so bad. (God forbid it should be characterized as “feeling good.”)

Karin asked me where I was on that spectrum at the time. I told her, “I guessed I would have to say that I’m on the high end… and that’s almost worse.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because it’s not real,” I told her. “Because all the time that I feel this way, I know it’s only a matter of time before it ends and the bottom drops out again.”

~~~~~

I had a really shitty day yesterday.

My doctor told me I was twenty pounds heavier than the last time I saw him, fourteen months ago. I knew I had gained back some of the weight that I lost, but I didn’t realize it was that much. To be honest, I’ve been in a bit of denial about that. Trying not to think about it and definitely not accepting how bad it really is. Most days I feel like I’m not that heavy. My birthday party should have been a wake up call…

Weight is an issue for me. Always has been and most days I want to just throw in the towel and say, “Fuck it! I’m never going to have any control over this anyway. I should give up trying.”

The only success I’ve ever had is being vigilant about following the nutrition program on the Abs Diet program I’ve talked about before and by going to the gym regularly. The nutrition program is good but it becomes tedious after a while. I don’t know how to use most of the weight equipment in the gym and so all I can really do is aerobic exercise. The only time I can stomach going to the gym is mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Any other time is either too crowded or too early/late for me. When I can get there mid-morning or mid-afternoon it works out pretty well, except that It takes 90 minutes to two hours round trip (including travel, changing clothes, shower and dressing again.) And if there’s any disruption in the office schedule, like someone not being there, then it’s hard to get away.

I’ve given up any hope of ever being buff like I really want to be, just being fit and healthy – thinner will do, but even that seem so far out of reach…

I’m ready to consider more drastic measures. While I was waiting for my doctor to come in to the exam room yesterday I noticed a flyer on the wall. My healthcare organization now offers Cosmetic Surgery. I was shocked. Liposuction was listed. Someone recently told me that you can’t get fat again after liposuction because your body doesn’t grow new fat cells. Is that true? One of the side effects of liposuction is hair loss… I don’t have to worry about that…

A few months ago, my friend Lori (have you noticed all my friends are girls – sad) started a medical fast. She has lost 47 pounds in about six months. When she started, I thought it was overkill, to be honest. I tried to be supportive, though I’m not sure I succeeded, but I didn’t think she needed to do it. She was not grossly obese, in my estimation, and I felt like if she had the determination to stick to the fast then she had the determination to change her thinking and watch her nutrition. Now…. I’m wondering how much it costs, and if I would have to pay for it all at once or if I could make installments.

Once upon a time, specifically because I drank too much and knew I would feel better faster if I threw up, I tried to induce vomiting. I apparently have no gag reflex (something that might be useful someday – but probably not) and I don’t think bulimia is an option. Not that I could really be bulimic. I hate to vomit and will do everything in my power to prevent it.

I don’t know what to do.

~~~~~

I’ve been obsessing all day about my ordeal yesterday. And I’m pissed off because IT’S NOT RIGHT and I have no recourse. My options are to get the physical and pay the money, effectively paying my health care provider twice for one instance of service, or not getting the physical and not being able to get my ambulance driver license. Clearly, I don’t really have a choice, but the egalitarian in me can’t let this injustice go. I’m getting screwed and there’s nothing I can do about it. That makes me physically ill.

~~~~~

Last year, my boss, John, decided that I should be involved in the Green initiative for our building. Then he went off to Hawaii for four months and expected me to run the program in his absence. The fact that I have made it abundantly clear to him that I don’t give two shits about green initiatives was irrelevant. He had created this Green Advisory Council with a handful of building employees who wanted to be involved in “greening” the building. The whole lot of them are hippies (sorry Karin) and they’re all gung ho about the programs. They all annoy me in that capacity, but there’s one person on the council who is like a rabid dog with a juicy bone. He will not let anything go. He comes up with an idea that is not achievable with the limitations we have (or just not advisable at this time with good justification) and when told “no” brings it up again at the next meeting. He just keeps bring it up and keeps pushing until he gets what he wants, because ultimately, John is a push-over people-pleaser who will say “yes” just to satisfy this guy, even though it’s not the right thing for the situation. He pushes my buttons at every turn and as hard as I have tried I just can’t manage to like him. After the meeting today, I’m finished even trying to like him.

~~~~~

I’m lonely. When I left work today, a Friday, at around 6:00, I tweeted this:

~~~~~

All day today, when I wasn’t feeling murderously angry, I felt like I needed to cry. But as we know, I don’t do that.

~~~~~

Between me and the fence post, I’ve been craving Vodka for a couple days…

~~~~~

You know when I started this post, it was going to end with me saying, “I hope this is just a bad day and not the end of that all too infrequent “not so bad” time. Now that it’s written…

(Sigh) It was nice while it lasted.

Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better

I had a really shitty day yesterday.  It wasn’t supposed to be.  I took the day off work to take care of some EMT related business and then I was going to have the rest of the day to do with as I pleased.  I went to my doctor to get a physical of sorts.  The state of California requires a Medical Examiners Certificate (which sounds like I ought to be able to perform autopsies after but is actually a Medical professional Examining me and Certifying that I am physically fit to drive a commercial vehicle.  And then once I have this certification of fitness I can get my ambulance driver license.  My appointment was at 10:00 and was supposed to be a fairly quick experience.  Because my health care provider believes in an assembly line method of delivering healthcare I knew I would have to make another stop on the campus to provide a specimen for the Urinalysis that I saw was called for on the form.  I knew the results would not be instantaneous and so I knew this would not be completely resolved in one day, but at least that part would be quick.

I have a like/hate relationship with my doctor.  I really do like him.  He’s a nice man who takes good care of me, and seems genuine in his interest and concern for his patients.  I also dread going to see him because I know there will be a discussion of weight.  The fact is, my healthcare provider, which for those of you who are keeping track at home, is also my employer, requires all of the physicians to have a discussion with every one of their patients about weight, smoking, diet and exercise… in addition to finding out and treating whatever the patient is there for (all of which is supposed to be done in under 15 minutes), so I know my doctor is just doing his job.  But my doctor is about 6’3 and weighs about 160 pounds.  As a rule of thumb, this is a condition people like him come by naturally, so I’m really not sure he can understand what a struggle this is for me.  I knew I had to see him.  I knew I had to get this certification from him, but I kept putting it off, because I knew I had gained back some of the weight I had lost.  I knew I weighed more than the last time I saw him and I was dreading having to discuss it with him.

I went to my appointment.  Went through the usual torture of having the assistant take my temperature and my blood pressure (which is always high at first and lower when he checks it again later) and have me step on the filthy, lying whore of a scale that always adds five pounds to what ever my scale at home says; as if the insult on my own scale weren’t bad enough.  Then she took me into the exam room and asked me what I was there for.  I handed her the paperwork that I needed the doctor to fill out and sign and she told me that she didn’t think he would be able to do it.  “I think you have to take this to the medical secretaries to get this filled out and then he can sign it.”  My healthcare provider uses a computerized medical records system so the medical secretaries will just pull whatever information my doctor put in the system to fill out the form…  The fact that my doctor will be writing it all on paper before it gets into the system and therefore could just as easily write it on the paperwork is, apparently, irrelevant and won’t become a real problem until later.

“That’s fine,” I told her, “I just need to get the exam.”

The doctor came in and discussed the form with me and did the exam which was pretty simple stuff. He asked me about my sleep habits.  “How quickly do you fall asleep?”  Fat people always have sleep apnea, you know.

“Usually really quickly,’ I told him.

“And when you wake up do you usually feel well rested?”

“Almost never,” I replied.

“Do you snore?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered, “I’m asleep.”  We established that I live – and sleep – alone.  And if I’m snoring, or stopping breathing, Mischa’s not telling.

My blood pressure was excellent, as usual, and so he ruled out sleep apnea because people with sleep apnea generally have high blood pressure.  I only get about six hours of sleep most nights and so I’m chronically sleep deprived.  I’m sure glad I have insurance and only had to pay $10.00 for him to tell me this thing that I already know.

I need to get more sleep.  I also need there be another six hours in the day.

For the first time in ten years, he asked me my sexual orientation, which I thought was kind of odd and it tripped me up for a second, but I didn’t mind answering honestly, (if “gay” is on my medical record, does that make it official?)  Based on my answer there were some additional things he wanted to discuss with me.  Having established that I sleep alone, I couldn’t help laughing when he asked me how often I used condoms and if I had been vaccinated against Hepatitis A.  Um.  I SLEEP ALONE!!!

In a theoretical world, yes, condoms 100% of the time.  I was vaccinated against one of the Hepatitises (Hepatiti?) last year before starting my EMT training.  It was Hep B.  They strongly encourage the Hep A vaccination for “men who sleep with men.”  Um.  I’m a man who sleeps with NOBODY, but OK, sure.  I only pay $10.00 to come here.  Whatever you want.

That’s another stop on the assembly line.

“When did you get your last tetanus shot?”

“No idea.”  Tetanus booster, with the Pertussis (whooping cough) element is recommended for healthcare workers.  Sure why not.  Make me a pin cushion.  I’m already going to the injection room anyway.

In addition to sleep apnea, fat people always have diabetes.  “When did you eat last?” he asks me.

“Last night.”

“Good.”  Every year he sends me to the lab to have blood drawn to check my blood sugar.  (It’s always in the high normal range.)

“As long as I’m having my blood let, anyway,” I ask him, “can you order an HIV test?  I mean, I don’t really need it, but I’ve never had one and as long as I’m there…  I asked them to do it last time but they said they couldn’t do it unless you ordered it.” (Stupid)

“It’s always a good idea,” he agreed.  (Results were negative, in case I had you worried.)

As an afterthought, I asked him to take a look at a little 3-dimensional spot on my left cheek that didn’t use to be there.  “Welcome to getting older,” he told me.  “Its nothing to worry about.”

After 45 minutes in the doctor’s office, I went across the hall to the “adult injection clinic”.  I’m not kidding.  I check in there and literally take a number.  I’m number 84.  They’re on number 67.  They stay on number 67 for more than 10 minutes.  I waited almost 30 minutes to get into the injection room and then when I did get in I waited another 5 minutes.  Two jabs in the arm, one of which hurts a lot today (I assume it’s the tetanus booster) and I was on my way to the next stop.

Since the Medical Secretaries were moved to the new building across the main street on the other side of the hospital, I choose to go to the lab in that building and so I walk around the perimeter of the hospital to get there.  I haven’t eaten in twelve hours.  My head is starting to hurt (hunger, or something in one of the shots?) and now I need to pee.  I get to the lab take another number and then check in.  I ask the clerk, “If it’s possible for me to do the Urinalysis first, that would be awesome.”  She gives me the plastic cup and I take care of business.

Then I wait another 20 minutes to have my blood drawn.  I never really understood why some people have issues with finding veins.  You can spot mine at twenty paces.  I’m glad I have good veins and for the first time in my life I watch as the Phlebotomist inserts the needle and my blood flows into the ampules…  quickly.

Finally, I go to the Medical Secretaries office.  It is noon.  My head is splitting, my shoulder throbbing, my opposite arm is tender and has a self clinging bandage wrapped around my elbow and they close at 12:30 for lunch.  I arrive at the office to find a crowd of people and yet ANOTHER take a number machine at the door.  I’m number 88.  She (and I do me that as a singular pronoun) she is on number 72 and everyone is arguing with her.  I’m NOT leaving before I’m seen so I’m sorry you’re all alone and going to be late going to lunch.  I listen as one person after another argues with the Medical Secretary about how “so and so told me that I could sign this on behalf of my legal age, mentally competent family member, so why are you telling me that I can’t?” when it’s just her job to know and, duh! why would you think you could sign on behalf of the legal age, mentally competent family member?  I turn to the lady next to me and say, “Why is everyone arguing with her?  It’s her job to know these things.”

FINALLY, she calls number 88.  I hand her my forms.  “I was told to come here to have this filled out based on the physical I just had.”

“What is this?” she asks me.

I sort of assumed that she would know, because this is something they do.  “It’s a Medical Examiners Certification for the DMV.” I tell her as I point at the size 72 font DMV logo in the corner of the form.

“Oh.  They changed the form,” she says in a tone that suggests it’s a problem.  “I don’t have an old one to show you.”

I didn’t question you. “I printed it from their website, yesterday.  Obviously, it’s the right form.”

“Well, there’ll be $30.00 fee,” she tells me and I’m certain it was a joke.

After a long pause where I just stare at her, I finally say, loudly, “Excuse me?”  She repeats the absurdity.  “There’s a $30.00 fee for you to fill out a form that the doctor could have filled out WHILE HE WAS DOING THE ACTUAL EXAM?  There’s a $30.00 fee to FILL OUT A FORM???  Give me a pin.  I’ll do it!”

This, in case you’re wondering, was not the bombshell.

“Oh, wait,” she says suddenly.  “We can’t do this anyway.  You have to take this down the hall to Occupational Medicine.”

Seriously?  I’ve waited here for 30 minutes and now you’re telling me I have to go somewhere else, even though both my doctor and his assistant said to come here?

“Sorry,” she says unconvincingly.

I snatch my forms from her and say, “No you’re not,” and stomp off.  I’m not even out of the small office before I hear her call number 89, like everything is fine.

At the other end of the hall, I walk up to the sprawling desk with six stations for clerks in Occupational Medicine.  There is only one person at the desk and as I walk up, she says, “Oh, sir, I’m closed for lunch, and my sign should have been up.”  Mid-speech she reaches for her closed sign and slaps it down in front of me.  “She’ll help you,” she says gesturing to the woman who had been standing there talking to her and is now sauntering to the far end of the counter.  I give the first woman the stink eye as I stomp off.

I hand the form to the woman and tell her what the Medical Secretary told me.  “Well, we can’t do that!” she exclaims and she has the nerve to actually sound put out.

“Excuse me?” I ask, all pretense of cordiality has drained out of my voice.  This is getting ridiculous.

“The doctor’s not going to sign for another doctor,” she says as if this explains everything.

“Riiiight?”

“So they can’t do this.”  Now you get it, right?

“I don’t understand what you’re telling me,” I say.  I’m fairly certain there is steam coming from my ears now.

“If your doctor did the exam, our doctors aren’t going to sign the paperwork.”

Now I get it.  “No one is asking for that.  My doctor is prepared to sign it, but he sent me to the Medical Secretaries to have it filled out and they sent me to you.”

“Well, this is for the DMV, for a commercial driver license,” she says, as if I hadn’t already established that fact, “your doctor can’t do the physical.”

I stare blankly at her.

“Our doctors have to do it.”

More staring.

“It costs $70.00 and it’s not covered by your membership.”

You know that sound that they used to (or maybe still do) use at factories and mills to indicate the start and end of shifts.  The old steam whistle sound?  Yeah, that.  Coming from my ears.  “What. Do. You. Mean. It’s not covered?”  Surprisingly she understood me through my clenched teeth.

“You have to pay for this.”

“Let me get this straight,” I said loudly.  “Not only am I a member of this health care organization, but I’m also an employee.  I pay my premiums every month out of my paycheck.  I have full medical coverage.  I just paid my $10.00 co-pay to see MY DOCTOR who conducted my physical for this form, because the man on the phone WHEN I MADE MY APPOINTMENT said I DID NOT have to come to Occupational Medicine.  I’ve been here for three hours because of this form and because the man on the phone said I DID NOT have to come to Occupational Medicine.  The woman down the hall tells me I have to pay $30.00 TO WRITE ON A PIECE OF PAPER THAT I PROVIDED and now you’re telling me that I have to see A DIFFERENT DOCTOR and pay another $70.00 OUT OF MY POCKET?  You’re telling me that even though I have worked here for ten years and been a member the ENTIRE TIME, and even though I have complete coverage, I HAVE TO PAY $100.00 OUT OF MY POCKET for something I’ve already paid for?  EVEN THOUGH THE APPOINTMENT CENTER GUY SAID I DIDN’T HAVE TO COME HERE?  IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME?

“I’m sorry.  He was wrong.  And you don’t have to pay to have the form filled out.”  There was nothing apologetic about her tone or demeanor.

When I called to make the appointment, the man said “I think you have to do this with Occupational Medicine.”  I explained that I was not doing it for my employer and was he sure?  He put me on hold and then came back and said I did not have to go to Occupational Medicine.  So not only was he wrong but the person he went and asked was wrong too?

“Would you like to make an appointment?” she asked me as if I hadn’t just had a tantrum.

I did my best to stare death into her soul.  Apparently I do no wield that much power, despite what the Mormons think.  Dammit.  “I don’t guess I have any choice now do I?”

She turns to her computer.  “Would you like to do it today?”

“I CAN’T DO IT TODAY,” I tell her.

I have $37.00 in the bank until midnight.  I didn’t have the money to pay the $30.00 TO WRITE ON PAPER and pay the quickly mounting parking fee I’m amassing, I sure as hell don’t have the $70.00 to pay for the physical, I’ve already paid for AND already had.

Now I’m going back on Tuesday.  I will be telling this strange doctor I do not know that he can use my blood pressure from Thursday’s physical, BECAUSE IT’S BOUND TO BE ELEVATED ON TUESDAY.  He also damn well better use the results of Thursday’s urinalysis and they better have me in and out of there lightning quick!

The good news is my appointment is at 8:30 in the morning and I am taking the entire day off work again so maybe this day off work will actually be a nice one.

In my office building we frequently have various propaganda banners hanging in the lobby, touting our organization as being “First in service” or “Best Healthcare whatever whatever” or “Ranked number one among, something or other.”  I suppose if I actually read this crap anymore I could be more specific.

Something my company needs to think about:  Being the biggest healthcare provider in the area does not make us “the best”.

Here We Go Again

Last Monday marked my final day of Personal Training for a little while.  I’m disappointed for sure.  I liked having the help, and the accountability is more helpful than you can imagine.  With someone waiting for you at a set time and day at the gym, it’s a lot harder to blow it off.  With someone telling you how many of which exercises you’re supposed to do, and not feeling sorry for you when you whine and whimper, it’s harder to slack off once you’re there.

Of course, there were some draw backs as well.  Tawaiin’s measure of my success was my weight and measurements.  There’s a whole elaborate set of measurements that they take every three weeks to track your progress.  I suppose that makes sense from a tracking standpoint, but it didn’t matter to me, weight loss wasn’t my primary reason to be there, and toward the end, I found that I was dreading going on the days that he would take my measurements.  My goal was to get stronger, have more endurance.  I’m not sure about the endurance, just yet, but I definitely got stronger, even just working with him one day a week.

Of course, I see a difference in how I look.  My waist is slimmer, my chest is less “moob”-like (that’s man boobs for anyone who doesn’t know.)  There is the slightest of diagonal lines running from my collar bones to my armpits and slightly less slight diagonal bulges running around the outside of my upper arms.  This is good.  I wouldn’t dare say I’m looking buff, far from it.  But this is good.  Imagine what I could have accomplished with twice a week sessions… or, you know, working out any other day of the week.

I couldn’t afford to see Tawaiin twice a week, and sadly, I never really learned how to work out on my own.  For the last month or so, I only went to the gym on Monday’s.  Not getting my money’s worth and not getting the maximum impact.  Nonetheless, I lost twenty-eight pounds; I don’t know how many inches; and four or five percentage points in “BMI”.  When I started, I was fully entrenched in the ”NOT HEALTHY” section of their chart.  On the last night, he took measurements and I was .01% below the “NOT HEALTHY” section in the “Acceptable” category.  I would have to lose another ten percent to fit into the “Fit” category.  I don’t know if that will ever happen.  I did build some strength and endurance, and for that I am grateful.

A few years ago, I signed up for a program through Men’s Health Magazine called The Abs Diet.  I really liked it because it took all the guesswork out of everything.  Computer generated, but fully customizable, weekly meal plans, daily work-out routines ready and waiting, progress tracking all right there on the website.  It was great.  It is for a fee, but it’s a pretty reasonable fee for what you get (about $15.00 a month.)

One of the new features since I last signed up for the program is a support section, a community of users in a forum and a personal journal which can be kept private or made public… Kinda like a blog.

Anyway, I wrote this, this morning and frankly, I don’t think I can sum things up any better than I did:

Yesterday was my first day of my second go round with this diet.  I did the Abs Diet for several months a few years ago.  I liked it and did fairly well with it without going crazy with every little detail.

I really enjoyed having the meal plan laid out for me without having to put much thought into it.  Each week, I printed out a detailed list of meals and a grocery list to accommodate those meals and, bam!, my thinking was done for me.  The part I struggled with was the exercise.  I never really knew what I was doing and my resources were limited.  I lived in an apartment complex with a gym, (now I live in a duplex) but it was a somewhat limited space and in the evenings it was too crowded to be able to make use of it.  I tried to make it in the mornings, and I did for awhile, but it was tough – I’m not a morning person.

(Full disclosure – I was also drinking pretty heavily and it was tough to make that fit into the plan and get up early enough in the mornings to work out.  Now I don’t drink at all, but I’m still not much of a morning person.)

I went on a two week vacation to visit extended family and didn’t work out a single day while I was away and I just never managed to get back on that horse when I came home.

I started that go round at nearly 290 pounds.  The lowest weight I remember seeing on the scale before I gave up was 254.  My weight climbed slowly – or rather, I thought it was slowly – and I was distressed but never motivated to do anything about it.  For the next three years my weighted fluctuated back and forth always climbing a little higher before coming down again and at my worst I was up to 309 pounds.

Through paying closer attention to what I was eating, eliminating Alcohol from my life and trying to be more active in general, in my daily life, that number came back down to about 288 pounds.

Last year, I decided I wanted to consider a career change and become an Emergency Medical Technician.  The field fascinates me and I’ve got some work experience that lends itself in that direction.  I looked at what they have to do, and I looked at my own condition and knew that physically, I can not do it.  I can’t lift the amount of weight an EMT has to lift and I don’t have the stamina to do a physical job all day long.

In October, I joined 24 hour fitness.  In November, I signed up with a personal trainer.  I worked out with him once a week.  I would have liked to do more, and he wanted me to do more, but it was simply too expensive to do more than once a week.  I’ve gotten own to 265 pounds.  Last week was my final session before the funding ran out.  I couldn’t afford to go back again.  I want to go back as soon as I’m able but it’s insanely expensive and I really don’t know where I’m going to find the funding to pay for it.  And then I remembered the Abs Diet.  I remembered the step by step outlines of what exercises to do and what food to eat and everything.  So I signed up again.

Yesterday was the first day.  I printed out my meal plan and my work out plan and set about making it work.  It was a little tough. I’m a big brother and I spend Sunday afternoons with my Little.  We went to a miniature golf/go kart/arcade/etc center.  Fortunately, food never entered the equation yesterday, but it was five hours out of the middle of my day and I didn’t manage to fit my afternoon “snack #2” into the day.  I went to the gym in the morning, later than I had wanted to.  I thought if I could get there early enough, the weight room wouldn’t be terribly packed and I could figure it out.  I realized, only after I got there and started reviewing the paperwork, that I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  The machines all look like medieval torture devices and there are limited, if any, instructions.  I ended up faking most of the exercises using the Nautilus type equipment at the other end of the gym that no one wants to use.

I know that I was better off using that equipment than not doing anything at all.  I also know that a leg press is not the same as a squat and that I won’t get the same results by doing different exercises than what the program prescribes.

I like today’s prescription.  Walk for 45 minutes?  I can do that.  That was always my favorite part from the last go round too…  I’m hoping that tomorrow, I can get into the gym super-early before work and fumble around like an idiot with some of the torture devices– er, weight machines and figure out what the hell I’m doing.

I walked in there yesterday telling myself not to worry about the other people and what they might think looking at me as I screwed everything up, but apparently, I didn’t listen.  I know that if I can just acclimate myself to how it all works, I’ll be fine.  It’s just the acclimating that’s proving to be difficult.  Here’s hoping for a better outcome tomorrow.