Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Veteran political write Bob Woodward has a new book out. In it, he states that a big reason for Karzai's unpredictability is quite straightforward. He has a confirmed diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but he won't stay on his medication.
What a fabulous quality in a world leader. The BP on its own can have benefits, but when being off medication leads to decisions that affect--and possibly endanger--millions of lives, then perhaps it's time to consider a career change.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I'm tired. Exhausted. Frank had his surgery last Wednesday and I've been extra busy ever since. The level of care that hospitals expect family member to take on still leaves me aghast. It starts in the waiting area. The room is huge--about 1,000 square feet of beautiful bamboo hardwood floors, hard chairs, and magazines far past their prime. I actually picked up a copy of Better Homes & Gardens that was from 2004.
Frank got checked in and we waited for his name to be called. We went over the final paper work. We chatted. I was a little hungry, having not eaten enough at breakfast. I didn't realize that once Frank was checked in, I would be under strict orders not to leave the room.
As we sat there, Frank handed me his wallet. "You can't wear your wedding ring, you know," I said. Frank looked offended. "Why not? They aren't operating on my hand."
I explained that it was so the patient couldn't claim something had been stolen while he or she was under anesthesia. Frank slid the gold band off his finger and into the palm of my hand. I put it on my left middle finger, but it was so big, there was no way it would stay on. Frank chuckled as I tried every finger and each thumb with the same result.
Frank's name was called and he gave me a kiss as he stood up to leave with the nurse. I looked at the wedding ring, feeling a bit guilty for the number of times I had rolled my eyes when Frank told me he had gut pain. I kept insisting it was just gas, but it turned out it was something. Several somethings.
I turned the ring around on my right thumb, looking at how the once-shiny gold had muted to a matte finish. The five Celtic swirls engraved into the ring were holding up well, though. Frank never wore a piece of jewelry until our wedding day. At the time, I was sure he wouldn't wear a wedding ring, but he was happy to do it. Now it bothered him to have to take it off.
An hour passed. I pulled out my laptop and checked work and personal email. Nothing but people wanting something and annoying me in the process. I shouldn't have checked. Things that never bothered me before have been making me bristle with impatience lately.
Another hour. After two-and-a-half hours, there were only three of us left waiting. The room had at least twenty people in it when we had first arrived, but they had all trickled out as their loved ones' surgeries were completed.
I was beginning to worry.
When almost four hours had passed, I was finally called to come back to the recovery area.
Frank was sitting in a recliner, wrapped in a blanket. He was pale and sleepy. The nurse smiled and said, "He did great!" He didn't look so great.
We waited another 45 minutes and were cleared to go. Frank stood up and then sat down. He was wobbly on his feet and dizzy. The nurse got a wheelchair and we set off toward the parking lot. Frank got in the car slowly, buckled his seatbelt, and asked for his wedding band.
When we got home, Frank headed straight for the couch. He was asleep within minutes. I took the time to review his post-surgical instructions. So much to monitor. So much to remember.
Frank didn't move much for 24 hours. He was well-dosed with Percocet and the residual anesthesia that hadn't yet cleared his system. The cat joined him on the couch and they stayed there, each a comfort to the other.
I stayed home from work on Thursday, too. It was a long day, but Frank was able to stay awake for hours at a time. His color was better. He was a little hungry. He was in pain.
His recovery is slow, but he's doing much better. He's still not back to work--maybe another day will do it. He said I'm an excellent nurse.
While Frank was in surgery and in the first day of recovery, I was scared. I kept thinking that anything could go wrong. What if it turned out to be cancer? What if he had some freaky bleeding issue? What if, what if, what if?
No what-ifs came to pass. Recovery is on schedule with no surprises. Exhale, May. You can exhale.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tonight ushers in the Harvest Moon--the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. This year, it happens smack dab on the equinox. The moon looks like someone adjusted its position, placing it much closer to Earth.
As an added bonus, as noted in The Washington Post,
Jupiter will appear very close to the moon tonight. NASA's Tony Phillips writes:I plan to get up and take it all in after midnight.
"A Super Harvest Moon, a rare twilight glow, a midnight conjunction--rarely does
autumn begin with such celestial fanfare."
For the moment, though, I'm going outside to enjoy the perfectly perfect rainbow that just appeared after a day of spitting rain.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
As the project has continued over the course of the last month, the structure has grown to be nearly 20 feet in height and almost as large in diameter. New pieces of metal are added every day, and the complexity of the design becomes more intense as the project progresses.
For awhile, I thought it was going to be a fountain, but now I don't know what it is. A mechanical Venus fly trap? A scale model homage to some bizarre amusement park ride? A holding cell for criminals in need of public humiliation? The setting for some kind of judicial cage match when a jury just won't do?
I'm not sure what it is, but I'm reluctant--at this point, anyway--to call it art.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This is maybe one of a half-dozen times I've smelled a skunk in all the years I've been here. The last time was about a week ago.
I was greatly enjoying the soft, cool, evening breeze slipping in through the front window. And then this.
So, so, so nasty.
Shoo! Shoo! Go back to some eastern forest.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
What do you want, May, what do you want?
I want to be loved for who I am, neuroses and all.
I want people to stop hurting each other.
I want people to drive more conscientiously (I almost got hit crossing the street--on foot--yesterday by a driver who ran a red light 15 seconds into the 30-second red)
I would like to see significantly more ethics and much less self-serving behavior in all governments, everywhere.
I want customer service to actually serve the customer first.
I want people to be diligent about spaying and neutering their pets.
I want pet owners to step up and embrace the responsibility required.
I want twenty-somethings to stop feeling so goddamned precious and entitled and start earning the respect and rewards they believe they inherently deserve.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Fall is a dangerous time for me. It’s usually when my mood stability starts chipping away at itself, shedding little bits of wellbeing with each degree that falls on the thermometer. Some people feel invigorated by the crisp fall air, but for me it merely signals the gray curtain of winter is drawing ‘round.
The atmospheric evidence of fall’s arrival is a strong trigger for my memory as well as for my mood. It’s as if during the rest of the year, I can put the trauma of the supposed bipolar years into a neutral place while maintaining perspective about my life and the events that have happened within it. When fall comes, though, I don’t have benign memories—I have very strong emotions.
Each year, I go through this process of sorting through everything that happened, as well as analyzing what went wrong. This eventually leads to a full mental replay of how I felt unsupported and unloved at the time when I truly needed love and support most. I revisit the question, “What did I want from my world?”
I wanted the people around to me to care about my discomfort. I used to say that I wanted them to care that I was sick, but the problem wasn’t that they didn’t care—they cared only about how my illness made me less appealing than the version of me they liked. Nobody was particularly empathetic or compassionate. They wanted me to get better for their own comfort, not for mine.
I wanted everyone to understand that something was happening to me, and no matter how hard I fought it, it was consuming me. I nearly lost the struggle three times, yet not one person ever stepped forward with a comforting word. No, they berated me, scolded me, told me I couldn’t be weak, that I needed to fight harder, that it was up to me to choose to be well, and that it was making them angry that I might turn out to be a quitter.
I needed unconditional love. I needed that love packaged with compassion, kindness, comfort, and warmth poured on me without judgment. I wanted the people in my life to be upset that I was in peril and that I was scared. I wanted them to acknowledge that my illness was in no way willful or a product of my own emotional self-indulgence.
Instead, they were upset that I wasn’t living up to expectations. Not one person ever told me, “I’m sorry this is happening to you. I can’t imagine how this feels from the inside. I want you to get better because you deserve that. I want you to get better because I can’t bear to see you so sad and broken. I want you to get better because you are loved and wanted. How can I help you? Let’s find a way together.” I wanted them to be sincere about it.
Oh, how I have been sorely disappointed by my expectations of other people.
I got better because medication helped. I got better because I educated myself on what courses of action would be most effective. I got better because Dr. B believed in my ability to manage and adjust my own medications. I got better because Jolie met me at the lowest point in my life and decided I was satisfactory friend material, despite my deficits. I got better because I felt I owed it to my husband to do so. I got better because I needed to—I still had some business I couldn’t leave unfinished.
The whole of my 40s left me profoundly changed. I am not better or worse, stronger or smarter. I am more cautious, for sure. Definitely less optimistic. I have lowered my expectations. I don’t expend emotional energy on other people nearly as much as I used to.
More than anything, I am more self-absorbed—someone needs to have my back, and that someone appears to be me. Nobody else wanted the job, not really. At some point, I need to stop pinning my self-esteem to that fact. That’s more of a spring thought process, though.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Doctors have zero incentive to care about their patients. Think about it--the doctor gets paid, no matter what the outcome is for the patient. No improvement, deterioration, death: A check is waiting, regardless. I think too many physicians prefer the hard work of quantity rather than the challenge of quality.
The current business model for medicine in America has completely removed curiosity, compassion, and patient outcome from the treatment process.
Personally, I have figured out more critical elements of my own conditions through my own time and hard work than any doctor has. The TV program Mystery Diagnosis shows again and again how many doctors have no interest in the patient's wellbeing--they are focused only on the quick fix, easy explanation. And if they're wrong? So what if they're wrong? They still get paid.
There are a lot of lazy doctors out there, and why not? Succeed, fail, or do nothing, there is no repercussion to the business.
In most states, even a first-grade teacher has her compensation tied to student outcomes. It may not make a teacher care about his or her work, but it sure does provide an incentive to succeed that doctors don't have.
I can't actually think of any other job--with the exception of psychic advisor--where the pay is guaranteed, regardless of the sincerity put into the task at hand or the final result for the client.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
That may be an exaggeration.
I'm growing weary of writing to myself. It has served its purpose, but journaling, even in the form of blogging, doesn't help me lighten my burden or gain any clarity anymore. Nothing ever changes in my life.
Nobody cares about me, and I want to be OK with that, but I'm not. I'm meaningless outside of my utility--what I do to make others' lives easier or more interesting. I'm useful and lots of people benefit from that, but I'm hard to like and harder to care about, and that means that once my work is done, I'm no different than a car parked in the garage or a vacuum cleaner put back in the closet, not thought about until the next time there's a task to be done.
And so I find myself having one-sided conversations with myself here. What a pathetic situtation this is.
Truth be told, I wouldn't want to be very involved with me, either.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
There's nothing particularly wrong. I think that it's possible this is a warning flag my brain is waving in front of my consciousness. Something about obligations and frustrations.
I think it's time to re-evaluate my life and its structure at this time. I ask myself every day, "What do you want to do?"
The answer that keeps coming up is one word: Quit.
I can't quit my job, but I think it might be time to reduce the rest of my life to the minimum daily requirements. Those requirements are: sleep, eat, hygiene, job, deal with bills and mail, do laundry, tend to house as necessary, watch TV, use Internet. Nothing more.
There is no energy for social life (not that I have one), human connections, reading, researching things that don't matter to anyone but me, volunteering, gardening, the nonprofit, shopping, or anything else.
I wish to hold no responsibilities except for those I cannot escape (my job, my bills). I will become a recluse.
I need a plan.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sign me up.
I have lost a tiny bit of weight (26 pounds), but at my size, that's like cutting of one hair and saying you got a haircut. I still have to lose something like 15-20 pounds just to go from my current BMI of "obese" to a rating of "significantly overweight." I need to lose 40 pounds from here to get to a rating of "normal," but that's still 70 far, far away pounds from my goal.
No, I don't want a stomach re-route; I want to address this at the source--my brain. For some reason, it still desperately keeps wanting food, even after I've hit my 1200calories for the day. Don't get me wrong--I don't necessarily eat just because I experience hunger; it's that the hunger is so uncomfortable I want to that have surgically removed.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The character Mercedes, a significantly overweight African American teen, has joined the cheerleading squad. Evil coach Sue Sylvester demands that Mercedes drop ten pounds in a week because a reporter is coming to do a story about the squad. Sue is pretty relentless in her withering insults toward everyone, but she goes out of her way to make sure Mercedes understands that she's an inferior human.
My entire life growing up, I heard my own relentless stream of insulting criticism from my sister and brothers. I have always tried to compensate for the flaws they found so embarrassing--I've never wanted anyone else to be so embarrassed by being associated with me.
Ugly, fat, weird, ugly, fat, weird, ugly, fat, weird. It's all I was ever told. They teased me. No. They tormented me. My parents never did a thing to stop any of it. They told me I needed to toughen up and stop tattling. My siblings were brutal, but my sister was sadistic in her emotional abuse.
I've been through a lot of therapy. I haven't spoken to Denice since 1991. I like to think I've moved on from the hurt and low self-esteem she pounded into my head and heart with such ferocity, but I know it still shapes how I see myself and the world.
Mercedes steps out onto the gymnasium floor. She hasn't lost any weight in a week, despite Sue's insulting harangues. She stands in front of the microphone and says,
How many of you at this school feel fat?Mercedes begins to sing...
How many of you feel like maybe you’re not worth very much?
Or you’re ugly or you have too many pimples and not enough friends?
Well, I felt all those things about myself at one time or another. Hell, I felt most of those things about myself today, and that just ain’t right.
And we’ve got something to say about it.
Every day is so wonderful,
And suddenly, it's hard to breathe,
Now and then I get insecure
From all the pain,
I'm so ashamed.
I am beautiful,
No matter what they say,
Words can't bring me down,
I am beautiful,
In every single way,
Yes, words can't bring me down,
So don't you bring me down today,
No matter what we do,
No matter what we do,
We're the song full of beautiful mistakes
So don't you bring me down today...
You will have to endure a 30-second commercial prior to viewing the clip.
Tears ran down my cheeks and left wet puddle-like spots on my shirt. I wanted to feel the self-worth that Mercedes was singing about, but the truth is, all of those years of harsh words being ground into my psyche had changed my mental wiring for good. I realized that the highly toxic shit my sister and brothers smeared all over my brain was indelible, and there was no way--not at this point, anyway--to ever be washed clean of the poison.
You can tell me I'm beautiful, but I am incapable of seeing what you see. Apparently, I can only see myself through my sister's lens. It's a tragedy.
"Beautiful" lyrics: Linda Perry