Misc.

No daily prompts that I like today, but I’m up early and I have nothing else to do, so I need to think of something to blog about. Problem is, it seems like everything I think of to write about, I’ve already written about. The other problem is that I just write about everyday life and thoughts, and those get repetitive in a hurry.

In a comment about my last post, somebody said my views about the apocalypse were “abnormal and unhealthy”. The commenter was, I think, afraid I would take offense, but I rather agree with him/her. I am, and the thoughts I have are, abnormal and unhealthy. That’s not just because I have bipolar disorder–it’s because I am an unusual person, or at least I think I am. Once in college my friend and I were at a sports bar, and I was complaining that everybody I met was either a fratboy, a Goth, or a wannabe cowboy. I asked where all the “normal” people were, and my friend quickly said, “Dude, those ARE the normal people.” Barring Alzheimer’s disease, I’ll never forget that comment–it told me a lot about where I stand in relation to society, which is that I am on the outside observing the happenings within. So, yes, I am abnormal and unhealthy. Hopefully, that makes my blog more interesting to read. I think reading “normal” thoughts from a “normal” person would get old fast. Of course, nobody’s really “normal”, but some people are more normal than others.

All that being said, I’m still running low on topics for this blog. Just as some people are more normal than others, some people are more creative than others. I’m smart in my own way, but I’m not that creative. I have a great short-term memory, which made me a whiz in school, but which doesn’t come in all that handy in real life–except I rarely need to write down a grocery list. I score high on traditional IQ tests, but am a plodding thinker in many situations. I have trouble holding images in my mind and visualizing things clearly.

So, since I’m low on topics, here goes nothing: my wife and I had a good day yesterday. We exercised, we meditated, and we ate healthy. I have high hopes for meditation–I hope it will help clear my mind somewhat so I can think more clearly about things. I’d love to be in better control of my own mind. Left to its own devices, my mind wanders to the same worries over and over like a tongue repeatedly checking out an empty tooth socket. I worry about death and homelessness, the same thoughts and images over and over. It’s very bothersome and very distracting, and keeps me from enjoying what’s actually happening in my life. I get especially resentful of my own thoughts when my wife and I are spending quality time together and I can’t enjoy it because I’m worried about something that, in all likelihood, will never happen.

My thoughts go something like this: Trump wants to cut housing assistance programs, so maybe we will lose our government-subsidized housing and become homeless (notice the huge leap there). We have to give our cat away and live in a tent. My worst thoughts are when I imagine that my wife is crying and there’s nothing I can do to comfort her. My second-worst thoughts are imagining that one or the other of us has died, leaving the remaining partner to a cold, empty existence. I picture no more hugs, no more snuggles, no more laughter, and it just rips me up inside. I don’t want to endure that, but I want my wife to have to endure it even less. I want to outlive my wife because I don’t want her to be alone after I die. But if that happens, I’m going to be like Carl from “Up”, a grumpy old man with nothing left to live for. Neither option is good. I just hope it doesn’t happen for many, many years–which is why we need to work on our health.

So, yeah, we meditated yesterday for the first time in a long time. I didn’t do so well–I wasn’t sitting comfortably and my thoughts were all over the place–but it’s a start. My goal isn’t to attain Enlightenment–if I’m going to be a Buddha it’s not going to be in this lifetime–but simply to better control and manage my own mind, so it doesn’t eat me alive the way it does now.

I feel like I’m doing a very poor job with this blog entry. I’m all over the place and I’m not explaining things well. I think maybe it’s because I’m forcing it, so I’m going to stop forcing it and go back to bed now. Thanks for reading. =)

 

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Doctors and Whatnot

I’m having a week full of doctors and lab tests and X-rays and the whole shebang. I was having heart palpitations, so they put me on a home heart monitor for a couple days, and of course I didn’t have any palpitations while I had the monitor on. I have a high white blood cell count but no sign of infection. I had low potassium, so my doctor put me on potassium pills. After a week of the pills, my potassium is even lower than it was before. Now I have to take the potassium pills twice a day. Nobody knows why my potassium is low, or why it would have gone down while I’m actively taking potassium. And to top it all off, I pulled my goddam left pectoral muscle folding laundry yesterday. Getting old is hell.

Speaking of getting old, I turned 45 yesterday. I had a good birthday, spent the day with my wife and the evening with a couple of friends. I know a lot of people my age don’t necessarily care to celebrate birthdays, but I figure it’s a good chance to spit in the eye of Death. HA! Beat you for another year, you motherless bastard!

I’m not really worried about my health problems, although maybe I should be. Low potassium can cause cardiac problems, which is about the last thing I need. I think I have a bad case of magical thinking, nothing-will-happen-to-me syndrome. None of this stuff is sinking in. High white count, low potassium, heart palpitations, pulled left pec, back trouble, shoulder trouble, knee trouble…lions, tigers and bears, oh my! It’s all coming too fast and my mind can’t or won’t process it because nothing “SERIOUS” has happened yet. But in my case, the first “SERIOUS” thing that happens may be a heart attack or a stroke that kills me, or worse, incapacitates me.

But, whatever the reason, I’m not too worried about things right now. My wife and her friend (our friend, I should say) are in the other room coloring, and I’m here blogging and listening to music and drinking Four Lokos. Life is pretty good right now, despite the medical shit that’s going on. I’m not freaking out worrying about things I can’t control, I’m not depressed, I’m not manic, and everything is more or less OK mentally. That makes for a pretty good day. I’ve been worrying a lot lately about being homeless, but that seems to have ebbed the last day or two. So, yeah. Not worrying is good.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reading. =)

Health, Buddhism and Death

The other night, we watched the documentary The Buddha. I’ve seen it probably a half-dozen times or more by now, and know it pretty much word-for-word, but it’s great to watch because it’s so relaxing. It makes me want to take up meditating again, but we have to figure out what to do with our cat while we meditate. She won’t sit still for us sitting still, lol.

I consider myself a Buddhist, although a very poor one. I also consider myself an atheist. In my mind the two are not mutually exclusive, as you can be a Buddhist without believing in an afterlife or a soul, or much of anything really. At least, you can be a Zen Buddhist that way, and that’s what I consider myself, is a very poor Zen Buddhist. I’m also a pretty poor atheist, since I still pray every night. I guess I’m really just a closet agnostic.

Whatever I am, I have no fear of death. I don’t welcome it, and I hope to be around for a long time to come, but I’m not afraid of dying. Dying to me just means eternal dreamless sleep.

Speaking of death, however, I went to my doctor this week. I’ve been having heart palpitations and he’s putting me on an EKG monitor for a couple days. A couple of my labs were abnormal also, including my white blood cell count. And now tonight I felt a bit short of breath while lying down. My back and my shoulders and my knees all hurt. Tonight it’s mostly the shoulder, but all my joints hurt at times.

I desperately need to lose weight. According to my doctor’s scale, I weigh 411 lbs. and I haven’t lost anything in the last three months. Haven’t gained, either, so there’s that at least. My wife and I have been better about walking lately, and our diet has improved somewhat, but it’s going to take a long and concerted effort for me to lose the weight I need to lose. My 45th birthday is coming up in less than a week, so I’m getting older and losing weight is just getting harder with every passing year. Everything hurts more, too.

I’m very embarrassed by my weight. I have trouble fitting into chairs sometimes, and I’m always worried about how the seating will be everywhere I go because my back isn’t comfortable if the chairs are hard. If I were to have to take an airline flight anywhere, I’d need to buy two seats because I simply wouldn’t fit into just one. All this stuff is very embarrassing to talk about, but if not here, where?

My main worry is that I will die young and leave my wife to face the world alone. I’m not a kid anymore and I don’t think anybody would be that surprised if I just up and had a widowmaker of a heart attack. But losing weight is tough. It’s so hard to be disciplined and eat right and exercise. Some people seem to have no trouble with it, diet and exercise come easily to them, but they don’t for me. I’m a carb addict and I hate to exercise even on my good days. I just don’t like the sensation of being short of breath, I don’t like getting sweaty, I find walking to be pretty boring and I just plain don’t like to exercise. I don’t like vegetables either, or fish that much, which makes the diet part kind of difficult too.

It’s hard for me to find meals that I like which aren’t bad for me. I’m a picky eater, something I should have grown out of years ago but never did. We can’t keep peanut butter in the house because I’ll eat too much of it. I love me some peanut butter. PB&J’s are my favorite food. Jesus, what a mess.

I almost wish I could be manic again–when I was manic, I lost 75 lbs. in 6 months. But the other effects of mania are so bad it’s not worth it. I don’t think I’ll ever really be manic again, I was only ever manic when I was on the Zoloft and not on anything else. Now that I’m on Zyprexa (a med that makes it VERY hard to lose weight) I don’t think mania is in the cards for me. My insurance won’t cover weight-loss surgery since I’m not diabetic (yet), so I have to lose weight the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise. It’s very, very difficult for me.

I’ve been overweight my entire adult life–the least I’ve ever weighed was 219 lbs.–and I very much fear I will die that way. The number of age- and weight-related issues I’m having seem to be multiplying exponentially year after year. What I really fear is something like a stroke that leaves me unable to take care of myself. I fear that more than death, because I neither want to be a burden on my wife nor do I want to go to a nursing home. I’d rather just die.

Well, that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. =)

My Father

My dad never taught me much, in the traditional sense. We didn’t have father-son chats where life lessons were imparted. Hell, we hardly had any chats at all. He never talked about himself, his life, his parents, his childhood, anything. I know he was something like 16th out of 17 children, and his older sisters practically raised him. He was a child of the Depression, and it left a huge mark on him and his worldview.

My dad was both the hardest working and hardest worrying man I ever knew. He usually worked six days a week, and I’ll be damned if I can remember him ever bitching about it. His primary worry was that he would lose his job (usually through getting laid off). He was a carpenter and a machinist by trade, and during Reagan’s recession of 1981-82, he DID get laid off. We had to move from Indiana to live with my mom’s parents in Mississippi. He took this very hard (we both did–that move fucked me up too), and he was never quite the same after that. He and my mom slowly drifted apart, and they divorced when I was 14 or 15. I lived with my mom after that, and I think my dad saw that as me choosing sides. He never trusted me after that, and I think he thought I saw him primarily as a source of money. Well, I WAS a teenager–both parents were sources of money at times.

I had a strained adult relationship with my dad. We lived with him for a couple years to take care of him after he was diagnosed with heart failure. He didn’t need that much taking care of, really, but it was during this time that I went to nursing school. It was a difficult time, especially for my wife, because my dad was a hard man to please and a hard man to love. He wanted everything done his way. By the time I graduated nursing school we couldn’t handle it anymore, and we moved out into our own place. My dad went to live with my half-sister. At the time he died I hadn’t spoken to him in over a year, which breaks my heart a little. A lot actually. I think my dad died thinking I didn’t love him. That bothers me every day. It will probably bother me until the day I die.

My dad never complained about working. He never begged out of a game of catch with a bad back or bad knees or just being tired after being on his feet all day. He wasn’t a talkative man, but he treated my mother well and kept food on my plate and a roof over my head as best he could. I regret now that I didn’t see the value in that the way I should have, the way I do today.

I didn’t get my dad’s working man’s gene, but I did inherit the worrywart gene. I recognize now why my dad was always afraid of losing his job–because it meant that we’d be on the street (without some family charity, at least). Now that I have lost my own ability to bring in an income, I worry about the same thing. If not for federally subsidized housing and my wife’s SSI check, we’d be on the street too. And that is a terrifying thought. Luckily I didn’t inherit my dad’s fear of death. I’m not sure what his religious/spiritual beliefs were–he never talked about them–but I think they included a heaven-or-hell dichotomy that he feared. He apparently died in his sleep, which is good, but he was failing fast at the end and he knew it was coming. I wish I didn’t know that much. He kept asking about me up until the end, and my half-sister kept telling him I didn’t want to talk to him. That hurts, bad. I wish she had called me during the final days, but I don’t blame her. I had made myself pretty clear that I didn’t want contact.

My dad could imagine the worst of any scenario. I worked for Walmart in college, and after I’d had the job awhile, I asked my dad to co-sign on a new car for me. He didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have a good reason, and he ended up saying, “Well, Walmart could burn down and then you’d be out of a job.” Well, yeah. I could get hit by a meteorite too. I think the truth is that he didn’t trust me to make the payments. He finally co-signed, and I never missed a single payment for the next 5 years. Three weeks after I had the damn thing paid off I flipped it over on a wet road while delivering pizzas and totaled it, but by God I never missed a payment.

I thought his worries were absurd at the time–of course Walmart wasn’t gonna burn down, for Christ’s sake–but now that I’m an adult in my 40s, I find some of my worries aren’t much less absurd, but that doesn’t help me worry any less. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this anywhere in this blog, but I’m on Federal probation for another year and a half. I worry that Jeff Sessions, little weasel that he is, is going to find some way to make my probation harder. Luckily I think most anything they can do to me has to go through a judge first, but some of these judges are crazy too. Who knows what might happen? I tend to worry the most about low-probability, high-impact events. What if they find some reason to send me back to prison? What if, what if, what if.

All of which is by way of saying that I understand my father better now than I ever did while he was alive. I’m sorry, Daddy. I wish I had figured it out sooner. I’m glad you don’t have to worry anymore, wherever you are. I love you. And I always did.

Thanks for reading. =)

 

Blah

I’m feeling pretty down and blah today. A lot of it is the healthcare vote that happened yesterday–one step further towards the abyss–but I don’t know if that’s all of it.

I had therapy yesterday and did EMDR for the first time. The image I selected to work on was one of me in bed, alone and crying because my wife had died. It’s a very disturbing image and one that bothers me a lot. By the end of the EMDR it seemed as though the image was less powerful, so I guess it was a success, but this morning I’m thinking about death. I know death is a part of life, and I don’t fear it, per se, but I do fear my wife dying and leaving me alone in the world, or me dying and leaving her alone in the world. We’re so close, it just doesn’t seem right that our bond should be broken in that way.

I believe that eventually, if we can get our shit together, mankind will become immortal. They’ll develop medical technologies to reverse or stop the aging process, and people will only die in accidents and the like. If we can keep the world spinning long enough for the scientists to figure it out, we may beat death. But unfortunately, my wife and I won’t live to see it happen, so it doesn’t do us much good.

I feel like we are at a tipping point as a species. We have so many ways to destroy ourselves, through nuclear war or climate change or a pandemic, but if we can manage not to do that, we are heading toward a new Golden Age that will be brought about by science. The stuff they’re doing these days is miraculous. But will we as a species live to see it to fruition? That’s the question. Given our current state of affairs, especially here in the U.S., I’m not particularly hopeful. It’s hard to move ahead when 45% of the population has to be dragged kicking and screaming towards any kind of positive change. But I don’t know how we can change it. Nobody looks at facts and changes their mind anymore–they bend the facts to support their own opinion. So how can we get our people working together towards a better future? I don’t know the answer to that question. The problems we face today seem insoluble with our current political system. We need something new, but what that would be or what it looks like, I don’t know.

I feel like I’m just rambling today, so I’m going to cut this a little short. Thanks for reading. =)

 

Fool’s Mate

I’m taking some of the online “classes” offered here by the WordPress site, and the assignment today is “Why Do I Write?”, but I kind of covered that yesterday, so I’ll talk about something else.

I showed this blog to my wife last night–I admit it, I can’t keep a secret–and she was saddened by my comment about only having 15 or 20 years left before I die. I didn’t mean to upset her, obviously, but for both my wife and I thinking about our partner’s death is a huge trigger for some very heavy emotions. I used to just take it as a matter of faith that I would outlive my wife just by sheer willpower. I now recognize this as magical thinking. The real situation is this: I’m the man and the man usually dies first. Plus, I’m very overweight–what the doctors call morbidly obese–and if I don’t shed some pounds, I might be lucky to make that 15-20 years. We could all die tomorrow, of course, and nobody can read the future, but there aren’t many 90-year-olds with my body size. And if I make it that far, I may not be liking life much. I’d rather die than rot in a nursing home.

Actually, I can think of a lot of circumstances where I’d rather die than go on living. The reason for this is because, a few years ago, I lost my fear of death entirely. Now, that doesn’t mean I want to die–I’m not suicidal, don’t worry–and it doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of the PROCESS of death. There are some very ugly ways to die, cancer being an example. I don’t want to die slowly. I want it quick, bam, knock me out with a heart attack or kill me in my sleep with a nice big stroke. Or have a bank robber shoot me in the head. Getting shot in the head has got to be one of the best, easiest deaths there is. But once I met a kid who got shot in the head and didn’t die. That, ladies and gentlemen, is no fun. The bullet wrapped around his skull and came out by his ear and left him weak and shriveled on one side. But I digress.

Anyway, I may be scared by the PROCESS of death, but I’m not scared at all by death itself. I am a combination of atheist and non-practicing Buddhist, and I simply don’t believe in an afterlife. I think when you die, that’s it, you’re done, you cash your ticket and you’re gone to an eternal dreamless sleep. And when you think that way about the afterlife, death gets a lot less scary. Now, I used to fear the idea of non-existence itself. This is a very common fear. But I would posit this: you didn’t exist for billions of years before you were born, and it didn’t bother you a bit. If you don’t exist for another several billion years after you die, what’s the big deal? The Big Sleep is just that. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, as it were.

What about suicide? There have been many times in my life when I was suicidal, and I have actually attempted suicide twice (and, obviously, failed miserably). It’s a lot harder to kill yourself than you may think, especially when you don’t have a gun. Even guns can be fraught with peril–I met a chap once who unconsciously jerked his head away when he pulled the trigger, and shot his own face off. Again, not fun. And while I don’t think there’s any afterlife and I don’t believe in hell, that little sliver of me that isn’t quite sure about the whole non-existence thing tells me there may be special rules for suicides. I don’t know what those would be, and I wouldn’t let it stop me if I was seriously intent on killing myself, but dying by your own hand is a serious matter, and, if the universe cares about such things, there might be some sort of downside to dying by suicide. I don’t believe in souls either, but if we have one, suicide might not be the way you want to go out.

I have told my wife, however, that if I outlive her, I am very likely to die by suicide. Right now our only form of income is my wife’s disability. I’m applying for mine, but if she died tomorrow I would have no way to keep a roof over my head. I view being homeless as one of the great terrors of modern life, akin to rotting in the nursing home, and if I knew that homelessness was to be my fate, I would certainly check out ahead of time. That upsets my wife, too, and we’ve had several conversations about it that I won’t rehash here. She doesn’t share some of my spiritual beliefs–perfectly okay!–and I think she worries about my soul if I kill myself. She’s a sweetheart that way.

OK, enough about death and suicide. In other, potentially brighter news, the GOP is still having trouble repealing Obamacare. There is serious doubt as I write this whether or not they have the votes to do it. I hope they do not, and that they again fail miserably to pass their own rotten legislation. If they do fail, I will enjoy the remainder of my day, full of schadenfreude (sp?) and glee at their misery. I don’t hate Republicans, but I do hate Republican lawmakers (with high disdain for most Democrats aside from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Jeff Merkley wing) and watching them fail will be a highlight of my week. If they do manage to pass it, it still has to survive the Senate, and blah blah blah, who knows what will happen. But I’d love to see Paul Ryan with some more egg on his face, that smarmy bastard.

Not much planned for the day today besides a trip to the grocery store. I’m going to talk to my wife about this, but I think we need to buy some emergency rations that don’t need to be heated up. Everything we have is electric, and should the power go out for any extended period of time, we won’t be eating anything. We have stocked up some water, but no food. I’m a very poor survivalist–I don’t have the money to be a good one–but the least we can do is have a few cans of spaghettios and some peanut butter on hand in case of an emergency. So our grocery trip may be a bit more expensive than we’d like, but that’s neither here nor there I suppose. Stocking up, gotta be done. Never know when North Korea may lob a nuke into Portland or Seattle. Given Trump’s penchant for diplomacy and grace, nothing will surprise me less than seeing a nuclear bomb go off somewhere on the planet in the next three-plus years. I just hope it’s not more than one. Dying of radiation poisoning isn’t on my bucket list any more than homelessness is.

OK, kids, this article’s long enough. Thanks for reading. =)