Category Archives: illness

The Benefits of Having a Virus

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To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of a single recommended use for a virus, either the computer kind or the kind I have right now that floored me for the past five days.  The computer kind damages expensive hardware and ruins expensive software, and serves no purpose I can fathom beyond usefulness in acts of evil.  And I do not recommend getting sick with a virus.  Every viral illness I have gotten over the past two decades has been, for me being a diabetic, potentially fatal.

But the book that Raggedy Clown and Baby Clown are displaying here in a vain attempt at marketing was written during a continuing siege of virally-induced bronchitis… Six times in four years.  Writing benefitted from lost work time and extended usage of sick days from my teaching job.  Some of my most creative work has happened because of bizarre dreams dreamed while having a fever.

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Idiotically I leaped out of bed with a feverish inspiration in the middle of a mostly sleepless night to write down a song, as if I had any business trying to be a songwriter.  I had listened earlier in the evening to a compilation of sad songs on YouTube obtained by typing the words “sad songs of the 80’s” into the search box.  I listened to a totally gawd-awful mess of weepers because in the book I am now writing, Sing Sad Songs, the main character Francois sings almost exclusively only sad songs.  That listening session must have caused just enough brain damage to make me think I could somehow compose a worthy sad song of my own to horrify readers with as an original song written by the character in the book.  Clever idea.  Impossible to carry out with my croaking toad-like musical abilities.  I can probably polish up the poetry to an acceptably awful level, but the tune half-heard in my dream is now completely lost and inapplicable.

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So, on the whole, I would have to say I have been decidedly unwell.  But, overall, it has not proved to be a barrier to my creative work.  It has really only served to make the strange little imaginary realm I live in a little bit stranger.

This is, of course, not a medical dissertation, or any sort of health and wellness advice that I am not qualified to give.  But it would be ironic if lots of people suddenly re-posted this essay and it ended up going viral like my post on visiting a nudist park did.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, healing, health, humor, illness, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

One Day More

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I am still collecting sunrises.  Chest pains and numbness on the left side of my neck have me fearing the worst again.  I need rest.  But I am still alive.  And life is still worth living.  And I may not be able to write much today, but I am still living and will do better when I am able.  I am working on publishing The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, re-writing page 240 out of about 330.  I have to last a little longer for that book.  And longer still for the next one.

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Please ignore the spelling mistake.  You can be a genius without being able to spell it correctly.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, Paffooney

Deep Dark Depression

I have been very limited for over a week in the amount of time I have to spend on writing and blog posting.  The start of a new novel has been delayed.  My posts have been short… and hopefully also sweet.  I have relied some on re-blogging old posts.  Depression is a demanding illness.  It requires the sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of energy, and even the sacrifice of self.  It can go so far as to demand the sacrifice of a human life.  And it can require you to offer up those things even when you are not the one depressed yourself.  Though I must admit, my health and mood have suffered through hospital visits, business arrangements made without money to spend, only mortifying promises of doing whatever you can.  And then doing those things.  And at the same time I have earned zero dollars from Uber.

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Ghosts from the past, long dead emotions, and ancient regrets all arise from crypts you have been keeping them in to remind you that you are mortal after all and subject to the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to.  And you must become a ghost-buster.  How do you do it?  How do you defeat the phantoms of past deeds and devilments?

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Dr. Pinkenstein and Pinkenstein’s Monster Mickenstein

Of course, Science can help.  You need professional help from a real psychiatrist, especially if you can find a good one.  The doctor we found is one who saved our family from darkness once before.  This time a mood drug called Lexipro and vitamin D supplements helped.  Before it was too much cortisol, the stress chemical, and lack of serotonin that threw things out of balance.  Better life through proper medication is actually a thing.

And a sense of humor doesn’t hurt.  Dr. Pinkenstein was not our psychiatrist.  But if he makes us laugh about things… well, laughter really is good medicine.

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And I have sailed these waters and fought these devils before.  My little boat was easier to navigate this time because I had a map through the labyrinth that I drew for myself before.  Experience and the wisdom to learn from it is seriously a super power.

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Up, up, and away, me!  We have come out of the darkness again, and it is time to get our lives back on track.

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Filed under battling depression, colored pencil, humor, illness, mental health, monsters, Paffooney

Oh, Great! Illness Knows Where I Live!

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I am desperately trying to recover financially after being sued by Bank of America, forced into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and being hospitalized in November with heart troubles.  This Spring has found us repeatedly beset by illness as a family.  I mean, I have known for some time that the Grim Reaper has my address penned into his address book.  He knows where everybody lives.  At least those of us who are alive.

But the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse, the one with the scales,  who decides who deserves what and how much we get and how much we forfeit, has also taken notice and recommended that the Fourth Horseman sow a little pestilence in our garden.  I am ill again, for three days now, and my daughter is working on day two, the third illness since being diagnosed with the flu in January.

That Night in Saqqara 2 No one here is asking to live forever, but you would think horsemen could be a little more sympathetic and not layer on quite so thick a layer of never-ending disease.  And yet, I am reminded that I do plan to look at the benefits of the worst things that happen to me in life, and what good things they lead to.  I have been ill enough in my life to become quite good at it.  Arthritis has slowed me, but not stopped me.  I still get around quite speedily, even though I often require a cane to do it.  I am still not on insulin for my diabetes because of my diet and exercise efforts.  I have learned how to cope with illness and keep going in spite of it.

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Now I hope to transfer some of my illness-battling skills to my daughter so we might have at least some hope of her graduating high school in two more years.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, healing, health, illness, Paffooney

The Doctor’s Bill Comes Due

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I am in the middle of a family health meltdown.  In this time when the yearly flu epidemic is turning deadly, my two kids living at home and still in high school are both home sick.  And I am finding it difficult to pay for illnesses.  My recent trip to the hospital for a faux heart attack has left me staring down an incoming tidal wave of doctor and hospital bills.  I have been paying more for health insurance than ever before.  The lovely caring government has been mucking about with health care issues to the point that, even though I am paying thousands of dollars more per year for health insurance than I did ten years ago, I have huge medical bills that, due to higher deductables, leave more for me to pay as my portion than ever before.  I am paying twice as much for a three day stay in the hospital than I did five years ago when I had pneumonia, and was hospitalized for five days.  The Princess’s doctor visit yesterday cost me $77 dollars.  Number two son goes to the doctor this afternoon, and I have to hope it won’t cost more than that, because I am running out of Uber money for the month.

Gone are the days when I could afford to be sick.  Now, bankrupt and with no credit left to my name, I am going further into the dark lake of debt, hoping for the mercy of lawyers and credit collection agencies.  They may as well grind my bones to make their bread.  I have little else to give them.

If this sounds like a complaint rather than the humor I usually shoot for, well, that’s because that’s what it is.  I am sick and tired of always being sick and tired.  But I have to do my part to help the American economy.  It is really booming right now.  Probably because people like me are investing so much in health care, right before we die because we can’t afford to pay for the medicine the doctor prescribes.

My thanks go out to the ghost of Norman Rockwell for providing the illustrations for this post.  The pictures make me long for the good old days when doctors actually cared, and weren’t just making lots of money.  Of course, it isn’t the doctors who are making most of the money off piratical health-insurance schemes.  Whoever those people are, we never actually see their faces, and the voices we argue with over the insurance help lines are just their employees.  Anyway, I am not myself sick yet.  That probably comes later.  So I will hunker down and burrow my way through a potentially terrible week.

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Filed under angry rant, art my Grandpa loved, artists I admire, artwork, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, illness, pessimism

An Unexpected Gift 

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This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

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You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

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After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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Filed under commentary, compassion, happiness, healing, humor, illness, movie review, NOVEL WRITING, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Weekend Fun with Heart Attacks

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I’m not sure why I decided to have a heart attack over the holiday, but my body decided it was time and didn’t really give me a chance for input.   I should qualify it a little bit. I didn’t have an actual heart attack according to the final tests, but the preliminary tests were all red flags and shouting.

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So, I woke up in the middle of the night on Wednesday night with a pain in the left side of my chest.  My left arm was hurting and tingling with numbness.

Now, it is not something new.  I have arthritis in my rib cage and I tend to sleep on my left side.    So, although the pain was concerning, it was not reason to make a middle-of-the-night dash to the emergency room.  I eventually got back to sleep on my right side.  I was sluggish and ill the next morning, but I got a lot of house cleaning done and the chest pains were gone.

Thursday night the pains returned, but still not different than the arthritis pains that sent me to the cardiologist before, and not nearly as harsh and painful as the night before.   Again the pain went away in the day.

Friday night I picked up my son the Marine at the airport.  He was home on holiday leave.  We talked about my chest pains over a meal at I-hop.  He pulled rank on me and vowed to take me to the ER.  I talked him down to Primacare because it’s cheaper, still not believing it was real heart pain.

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The next morning Primacare didn’t go so well.  The EKG machine there predicted a major earthquake… or a typhoon, or something… and the Prima-doctor got all serious in the face.  “Do you want me to call an ambulance?  We are required to make the offer in these situations.”

“No, no.  My son is with me and can drive me to the Emergency Room.  I promise I will go.”

And so I did.

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At the ER they are very concerned that you don’t have anything in your pockets.  They quickly dressed me in a hospital gown and then surgically removed $200 (due to the wondrous way my insurance company has of not paying their portion of the bill).  So, lighter by that amount, they immediately hooked me up to their own EKG machine.  I had so many patches attached to the hair on my chest that I was guaranteed to be bald-chested when it came time to rip them all off again.  Then they  repeated the EKG testing done earlier in the day.  I swear, the same squirrel that was visiting Primacare when I was there earlier, sneaked into their EKG machine too and vigorously jumped up and down.  So, there it was.  The proof they needed that I had too much money left in my bank account.  And so they put me inside the hospital.

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Once inside, they rigged me up so one arm could be crushed by a BP sleeve every two hours, or more if they felt like it, and the other arm could be drained of blood so that they could tell if there was any further money in my bank account.

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Three days later, the enzymes in my blood said that what I had was mysterious and not a heart attack.  The stress test I had on Monday nearly killed me, and told them that I didn’t have enough money left in my bank account to keep in the hospital any longer.  I got out still wearing my arm band and allergy warning band as reminders that I really, really didn’t want to go back, but life is like that, and I still don’t know what caused it all, or if I will have to return to deal with it later on.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, healing, health, humor, illness, Paffooney