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Friday, July 29, 2011

Double Misery - Two Posts in One

If you read “Michael and Me,” you already know that I am depressed.  There is some kind of glitch with the comments button that I have been unable to fix.  I did copy and paste one of the comments that was e-mailed to me but was unable to do it a second time.  If you read me over there, try to comment, but if you can’t, please e-mail me your thoughts.  Later - I think I have it fixed now?

And now for today's posts.  You are getting two for one.
Yes, I am still depressed, though less so than yesterday, I think.  It is cool enough this morning to sit on the deck and write while my dogs doze.  It would be perfect if there were not heavy equipment digging a drainage ditch next to my house.  They start at 7:00 AM and have been at it for most of the week.  I would like to march over there and grab a shovel and hit somebody over the head.  7:00 AM.  Really?  Soon they will be digging under the street, and I will have to take the long way out of my neighborhood.  Not to mention the noise that would come with digging up the street.  And all this when I have several days off to relax and read and write.
Poor me.
This depressive event has me questioning everything about myself.  My internal dialogue is toxic. Here are some examples:
“cj, why are you such a fuckup?”
“I can’t do anything right - not even being depressed.”
“Why am I so lazy?”
That’s a representative sample; it goes on ad infinitum.  The most troubling aspect of this backslide is that I don’t want to get un-depressed, at least not now.  I want to wallow in it, punish myself with it, feed on it’s poison.  
This time, I am not afraid of the Dark Hole.  Does that make me crazier than I think?  Maybe it means I’m not as crazy as before.  I think I can climb out.  Maybe I came here to hide for a while
LIGHTBULB MOMENT!..................It’s not just depression.  It’s Parrish.
The Rest of the Story
Well, I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Parrish has decided, against my wishes and my fears, to move back to Atlanta.  Here is his plan:
He plans to leave Miami at the first of September, taking his disability check with him, and go to Atlanta.  He has not said what he plans to do with his things he can’t take on the Greyhound with him.  He will present himself at the emergency room at one of the hospitals and tell them he is mentally ill and needs to go to the state hospital for the mentally ill, Georgia Regional.  He says he will stay there until they place him in some sort of housing and a program that supports sobriety and compliance with medication orders.  He tells me this, but how do I know it’s the truth?  He says the hospital can’t dismiss him until he has a place to go.  What about all these budget cuts for Medicare and Medicaid?  He has both.
Shit a blue brick.
He has talked this way before, but since my visit in July, he has been on this bandwagon again.  How could I have been so blind?  I found him better than he has been in years, thought, believed that he was telling the truth when he said he was going to make his living situation work for him.  I wrote a poem about how good he was doing, for God’s sake.
No wonder I’m so depressed.  I guess I knew somewhere in the bottom of my heart that this was coming but just wanted to ignore it.  
We argued about this yesterday and again this morning.  I finally threw up my hands and cried “Uncle.”  He is, after all, 42 years old, and I am not his legal guardian.  I have tried for years to get him to give me guardianship, but he has steadfastly refused.  Now, legally, he can do anything goddamned thing and go any goddamned place he wants to.  I cannot stop him.  I cannot save him from himself.
His argument?  He only has ME (Can you say passive-aggressive)? in his life and seeing me only three or four times a years is not good enough.  He wants to be near enough for me to visit him every two weeks!  He is bored with Miami, participated in all the programs that are available to him, hates his housing situation, hates everything about it.  All this from the man who, last month seemed settled and resigned to his situation.
There is no good to come of him moving back to Atlanta, where was homeless, jacked upon cocaine and drowning in Budweiser.  His old drinking and drugging buddies are there, and he will seek them out because, if and when he gets settled in housing, he will think he is better than everyone else, that he grew up privileged and should not have to live in humble circumstances with people who are just as sick as he is.
I can see it playing out in my mind.  No, I am not running down the road to meet trouble.  It has found me, and I know from long experience that this move will lead to disaster.  I have told him repeatedly that I will not support him in this decision.  
I have lost this battle, and I need to prepare, once again, for my heart to be broken.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Namaste?

My regular followers and all the Saturday Centusians are aware that I close every comment and most e-mails with “Namaste.”  It occurs to me that you may wonder why.
I am not Hindu nor am I Buddhist.  I am neither Christian or Jew.  I am not Muslim.  I believe there are many paths to God, but I don’t subscribe to any one of them.  Instead, I have read about the world’s great religions and taken a little from here and there.
Here is my understanding of this spiritual word/gesture.  It’s the short version, which I am sure you will appreciate.
Namaste can either be a salutation or a parting gesture.  It is widely believed to have originated in the Hindu traditions.  In Sanskrit, the word namaste means, “I bow to you.”  It is a self-deprecating word or gesture that is actually directed towards God, who lives in all of us.  It signifies reducing one’s ego in the presence of another human being.
Namaste may be spoken or written.  It may also be a silent gesture in which one closes ones eyes and places the palms together over the heart - or the heart chakra - and bows the head.  It is believed to bring the mind closer to the heart.  It is a more profound gesture when the closed palms are held together with fingers touching the center of the forehead, then moved down to the heart. 
In my reading, I have learned that namaste exists in many religions, especially in Eastern faiths.  In America, it is used at the beginning and the end of every yoga class.  It is a self-centering gesture that conveys respect both for the God in one’s self and for the God in others.
When I use it in my writing, I am saying to you, “I honor the God within you who has blessed you with your talent, and I thank you for sharing that talent with me.  I am humble in your presence.”  I think about what it means every time I write it down or say it or show it in a gesture.
So, you see.  “Namaste” is not just a parting word that I plucked out of mid-air.  It is a sincerely respectful acknowledgement of your worth as a child of God.
Now, how do I reconcile this spiritual belief with some of my pieces, especially my poems, that appear to be so anti-God?  Writing, and particularly poetry, is my way of working through that reconciliation.  I said I was spiritual, not perfect.  Sometimes ranting at God frees me to forgive myself and others.  Sometimes, it clears my head.  God understands.
And the cuss words?  She has heard them all before.
© cj Schlottman
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Please Pray for Us

July 18, 2011
Today at work I had only one patient, though a quite interesting and tragic one.  I cared for a 34 year old African American woman who has neurofibromytosis Type 1.  Really that’s the name of it.
Here’s a definition:  Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a condition characterized by changes in skin coloring (pigmentation) and the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain, and other parts of the body.  Though the tumors in and of themselves are not malignant, they lead to a condition called spindle call carcinoma which is deadly. 
My patient has tumors all over her body - some exterior, others subcutaneous (under the skin).  She has a tumor in her pelvis larger than a basketball by two.  Her pain is excruciating.  The gigantic tumor has encroached on her aorta, the main blood vessel from the heart.  Because of that, her lower body is so grossly swollen that she is unable to move her lower limbs, and her kidneys are compressed.  She has tubes coming out of each kidney to drain her urine from her body.
Eventually, her aorta will be completely blocked by the tumor, and she will lose all circulation to her lower body.  It will squeeze her heart and the vessels that serve the upper body and brain, and she will die.  Her tumor is growing so fast that her end will be, I pray, swift.
She is mildly mentally deficient, but she is alert and appropriate, can express her needs and wishes.  I have never treated a more kind and gentle person.
Morphine drips into her vein at 2.5 mg per hour.  She gets Ativan for anxiety every four hours.  When I arrived at work this morning, I found her in pain and gave her what is called a bolus dose of morphine.  I pushed a button on the top of her pump and delivered a burst of morphine.  20 minutes later, she was still in pain and very anxious, so I gave her 1 mg of Ativan to treat her anxiety and potentiate the effect of the Morphine.  She went to sleep.
She slept quietly until a few minutes after 1:00 PM.  Before we bathed her and changed her dressings, I gave her another bolus and increased the hourly rate of her drip.  She didn’t complain a single time while we turned and treated and bathed her, but the expression on her face is forever etched in my mind.  Deformed and in terrible pain, she is the very picture of dignity.
After her bath, she needed more medicine, so I once more gave her some Ativan and she drifted into the arms of Morpheous.  With God’s grace, she will remain there until her heart stops beating.  It is our challenge to make that happen.  And we will.
Please pray for all of us.
© cj Schlottman
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good-bye Miami

Parrish had to leave at 8:00 because he needed to get back to Family Rest so he could get his morning drugs.  He was quiet this morning, deep in thought, it appeared.  When he left me, we hugged each other hard, and I shed a little tear.  His eyes remained dry - a rarity in our many “Good-byes” over the years.  I have to wonder if the medication that keeps him so calm is pushing his emotions down deep into his brain.  As hard as it is to see him almost emotionless (for him), it is preferable to seeing him manic and hallucinating.  
One of the most startling changes in his personality is that he wasn’t constantly perseverating about his appearance, repeatedly asking, “Mama, don’t you think I look good in this shirt?  I don’t look age at all, do I?”  There are, however, some things (harmless) things that have not changed.  He is still obsessed with looking well groomed; he just doesn’t talk about it all the time, still takes him clothes out to be laundered, taking a chunk out of his allowance every week.  I will concede him that habit, especially since some of his articles of clothing have not returned from the laundry at Family Rest.  
It’s now 11:00, and I am at the gate waiting for my flight. No upgrades were available, but I was assigned a good seat close to the front.  
I should feel rested.  I slept enough to feel rested, but I am already tired, and I haven’t even boarded the plane.  This thing with my upper back interferes with my sleep.  I am sure it is keeping me tired, but I don’t know who to see about it.
Boarding now..............
©cj Schlottman

Please read "South Beach."  It it's all about our my time with Parrish.

South Beach

July 10, 2011 - 9:30 AM
Parrish has gained weight, probably the result of taking Zyprexa for his schizophrenia.  He is more calm than I have seen him in many years.  God, if there were only a guarantee that this medication will continue to be effective.  He admits to racing thoughts brought on by the anticipation of my arrival here in Miami.  He is not perseverating and constantly talking about his appearance, fishing for compliments.    
Yesterday, as soon as I got here, I took a cab to pick him up, and we went to Bayside for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe.  We had great food and lingered to listen to rock and roll and peruse the exhibits.  I even bought myself a Ringo Hard Rock pin.  It’s very cool - even has “Peace, Love” on the front.  Since the Beatles came to the US in 1964, I have been in love with Ringo.
But wait.  This is not about me.  It’s about Parrish.
I expected his behavior to make for great fodder for my blog and inspire me to write poetry.  I have a hard time writing poems about happy things, as most of my regular readers know.  There’s too much happy going on here for me to be inspired. 
I have been asleep most of the the time when we were not out and about.  Yesterday afternoon, I took a two hour nap, and after we ate the pizza we called out for last night, I went back to sleep at 9:30, and only got out of bed one time until 8:30 this morning.  It reminds me of how many hours I slept when I arrived in Aix in May.
There I go again, making this about me.  Maybe I should just let it be about me.  That’s the directions this entry is pulling me.  One thing is clear, and that is that I don't get enough quality sleep in Macon.  Why else would I lapse into a coma when I leave town?

3:40 PM 
We went to South Beach for brunch at News Cafe, a Miami institution since 1988.  Well, I had brunch and P had a hamburger.  I had Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon.  It was completely luscious and rich and satisfying.  Then we walked along Ocean Drive in the humid Miami heat (90º/humidity 60%), window shopping and taking photos of some of the old Art Deco hotels.  Parrish is still manic enough that it is impossible for him to stroll, so I either chased him, ten feet behind, or I stopped whenever I wanted to take a photo and let him come back to me.  
We passed an establishment called The Palace.  The sign out front says it all.  "Every Palace Needs A Queen."  We were across the street, and I tried to take a photo of the Drag Queen dressed in gold lamé ruffles who was strutting back and forth on the sidewalk, singing and dancing.  I failed.  Cars and other onlookers created a curtain around her, and I only got glances of the Queen.  
We grabbed an iced coffee at Starbuck’s and sat in the cool for while, sipping and chatting.  If it had not been so blazing hot, we would have walked over to Collins Avenue to get more photos.  
I continue to be amazed at Parrish’s steady and even demeanor.  With the exception of the speed walking, he is the polar opposite of the man who came to visit me last December - unfocused, perseverating, manic, hallucinating.
A large part of this change is probably due to his new medication, but I still believe that when I come to see him, he does better than when comes to my house - for primarily one reason.  He carries so much guilt and shame about his behavior when he lived at home, he gets caught up in that web of guilt and his psychosis rears its ugly head and takes over.  It is a tragic thing to have to watch.
This, on the other hand, is fun for both of us.  I may just go home refreshed and relaxed.  Who knew?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“Just cause you got the monkey is off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.” - George Carlin

(I borrowed the Carlin quote from Amanda).
July 6, 2011
Remember the line in As Good as it Gets when Carol (Helen Hunt) shouted “Why can’t I have a regular boyfriend?”  
I’m here today to ask, “Why can’t I have a regular life?”
Take yesterday.  I woke to learn that my water had been turned off, so I called the Water Authority to report my situation and ask why it had been turned off.  After being on hold for 20 minutes (Thank God for speaker phones), I was greeted by a very polite woman.  I told her about my situation and asked her to please have someone come and turn it back on.  She put me on hold again and came back on the line about five minutes later. 
“Mrs. Schlottman, your water is turned off because you never paid your bill in May.”  She got points for pronouncing my name correctly, but she was wrong.  I had my laptop handy and went to Bill Pay and found a copy of the check I wrote in May.  It showed both front and back, and I could see that they had deposited the 
check on May 8.
When I reported this information to her, she put me on hold again but was back on the line in a couple of minutes.
“There were some administrative charges and one late fee that you never paid.”
“Yes Ma’am.  Do you want to take care of them today so we can turn you water back on?”
I bristled. I have never been late paying my water bill.  I like showers and baths and clean clothes too much to take that kind of chance. I’m a widow living with three dogs, and we need water to live, just like the rest of the world.  So, I took a deep breath.
“How much will it cost me to get my water back.?
“Thirty-three dollars.  You can pay now with a credit or debit card.”
I weighed my options.  I could contest the charges and be without water for who knows how long, or I could pay the damned thing and wash my hair.
“Let me give you my MasterCard number.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Schlottman.  Your water will be turned on sometime this afternoon.”
Sometimes it is more important to be happy than to be right.
I took a couple of hours to work on some poems, then, after bathing my body with distilled water I keep on hand for emergencies, I proceeded with the rest of my day.
Errand list in hand, I set out to take care of some things.  When I tried to close my car door, it didn’t click.  I got out of the car a looked at the hook where it’s supposed to click.  A washer at the place where the door clicks when closed was about 80% worn away.  Great.  After several tries, I got the door closed securely.
My first stop, of course, was Auto Zone, where I purchased the necessary part and asked the man there to help me put it on.
“We aren’t allowed to mess with anyone’s car any more.  It’s a liability issue.”
There I stood, part in hand, needing to go several places before returning home to figure out how to do the repair.  (Did I mention that it was 100º and humid as a steam bath)?  Once I got the door to click, I did my errands and came home.  
There is no way in hell I could have fixed that door, so I called my stepson and asked him to come over and help me.  (By the way, the water was still off).  He was here right away and repaired my door.  One problem solved.
No water yet, and the Water Authority was closed for the day.  Wonderful.  Deciding to make lemonade, I offered to take Bert to the hamburger joint around the corner for a sandwich and a beer.  We went by Kroger and bought me some more gallons of water.  
When we returned to my house, there was a hanger on the front door saying that the Water Wiener had come to turn it back on but that no one was home.  Really?  I wasn’t home when they turned the damned thing off.  The hanger advised me to call them this morning.
On hold for 15 minute this time.  A very nice lady told me that they couldn’t turn the water back on if no one were home because there might be a faucet left on.  Seriously.  I checked and found that my patio hose was slightly open.  The nice lady told me someone would be out today.
“Morning or afternoon?”
“Can’t say, but you may turn your water back on at the meter if you choose.”
Right.  I can turn on the water - have all the right tools and everything - learned all about it when I was in nursing school - have the tool belt to prove it.  Oh, Piffle.
Stay with me, there is an end to this.  While sitting here on the deck beginning the post, Israel, the very good and kind man who cuts my grass, showed up. 
I raced out into the front yard in my pajamas and asked him if he could turn my water on.  Hell yeah.  Well, he didn’t say hell; he’s too nice for that. 
So, now I can take a shower and wash my filthy hair, shine my sink and wait for the bug man to come treat the exterior of my house so the effing Palmetto Bugs will stop coming inside and scaring the shit out of me.
© cj Schlottman
  July 5, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shining My Sink

July 1, 2011
Yesterday, while reading Amanda’s blog post at “This Side of Reason,” I found a link to a site called "FlyLady."  It’s a place where one goes to get inspired to de-clutter and simplify one’s life.  I found it a little touchy-feely for my taste.  Really, I don’t think that woman loves everyone in the world.
Anyway, she has come up with a system that is composed of a series steps to manage stress and just get happy as shit.  The first step is to shine your sink.  Really.  If you want to read more, just click your way over there.
I thought about the sink-shining idea, slept on it, and when I got up this morning, I decided to shine my sink.  Understand that I planned to shine my sink after I had drunk several cups of coffee, written in my journal, written a blog post, and helped Christy, my Domestic Engineer, work around the house.
So, it was 11 o’clock before I got around to the task I had set for myself.  I took everything out of my sink, put the dirty dishes in the washer and put away a bunch of stuff that was in the drain.  Then I went in search of the stainless steel cleaner I bought one time, a long time ago.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe way back then, I was already thinking about shining my sick.
Cleaner in hand, I used an old rag to, well, shine my sink.  It didn’t get very shiny.  I think it is about 30 years old.  But I did the best I could and stood, rag in hand, and admired my handiwork. It looked pretty good.  
The thing about shining my sink was, well, that once it was shiny and empty, it was impossible to ignore the little (or not so little) piles of shit all over the rest of the kitchen - papers that were stacked up and needed to be filed, two ceramic bowls that had been sitting next to the coffeemaker for months and needed to be put away, receipts that were scattered about on every counter and that should have been put in the purple plastic envelope with dividers in it I use to store them for a year.  Wait, there’s more - junk mail culled out of the real mail but never thrown away, a couple of wine corks (really),a sink stopper that had never worked but which I had never thrown away, just parked it in the spoon rest I use as a sponge caddy.
Before I knew it, I was de-cluttering like a pluperfect fool, de-cluttering my ass off.  I took all the clean clothes that had been folded and left on top of the dryer for about a week, and I put them away.  I have left clothes in the kitchen so long that I once had to go in there to find a clean pair of panties.  I took the Christmas cards that had been in the basket where I keep my little coffee pods and culled out the ones I really wanted to keep and threw away the ones that had pictures on them of people I hardly know.  I put the three I wanted to keep in my desk in a photo file.  
But I was not finished, and my 1 o’clock nail appointment hung over my head whispering, “Your nails are a mess.”  I took a few minutes to go through my completely jammed pencil and pen caddy and threw away all the ones that didn’t work.  Now there are exactly two pencils and three pens in it.
I forced myself to dress and drive to the nail salon, but all the while I was there, I was thinking of what else in my kitchen I could dispense with.  The minute I got home, nails, toenails and brows groomed to perfection, I donned some gloves and completed the job - even straightened out the pantry - which has no door.
So, there you have it.  Me being me.  I’m fighting the urge to go back to FlyLady and tackle Step 2, of which I have no idea because I only read as far as Step 1.
Do you suppose there is a 12-Step program for de-clutterers?  God, I hope so.  I may already addicted.  
(Please, Sweet Jesus, say it ain’t so). 
© cj Schlottman
Friday, July 1, 2011