Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dear Peeps

There will be no Christmas presents this year. I spent $656 to come back to BG for the holidays.

I certainly hope they enjoy the pleasure of my company, for lo, this is the reason there is no Christmas.

That is all.

Quote of the Month

What Next?

This is a tough time of year for me. I tend to get those holiday blues, often paired with that itching "what's next?" feeling. It's been a tough couple of years, full of craziness, moving, job layoffs, hospital stays, chronic illness, new jobs, new friends, breakups, get-togethers, and yes, quite a few accomplishments, the biggest one being my crazy stubborness to just keep going, because really, what other choice would their be? Hiding under the bed never got anybody anywhere.

I'm still digging myself out of the physical, financial, and emotional hole of the last year, but as I start to see the edge of the pit there, I start thinking about what's next for me, and that's a hard thing to think about right now, particularly because, as said, I think I'm still there at the edge of the pit.

A lot depends on how this job goes. I should know by late April/May whether or not they'll want to keep me on past tax season. They'll be a huge purge of people after season, back to a bare bones crew, and I'll find out if the season was good enough for me to make the cut. I'm prepared to not make the cut, because you always prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

If that happens, I figure I'll start to seriously map out other avenues for me, cause with a year of experience as a tech writer, I may be able to move into other writing-related jobs, whether here or out of state. If things go well, I'd like to move out of Steph and the Old Man's place sometime next year, possibly. I don't mind it here, I'm happy, but I do miss having my own place sometime, and with three people, the Boyfriend, and two dawgs, the place sometimes feels crowded. It's not a big house, and it requires a surprising amount of upkeep.

But then...

You know, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about my life, about moving around a lot, about cutting and running, about never being satisfied. I keep thinking, what is it I keep running from? And maybe it's the mortgage and the dogs. Maybe it's stagnation, or this belief in stagnation. The more I get to talking about it and thinking about it, the more I realize that I've always associated settling down, marriage, families, with bitterness and unfulfilled dreams and contempt and stagnation. Two people resenting each other for all the things they never did.

And then I look at my life, and the stuff I've done, the stuff I still want to do, and it's like: I could do that from anywhere. How would being even more in debt stop me? It certainly wouldn't take away from the life I've lived. The issue is, more and more, asking myself what kind of life I want to live now.

I still want to travel to somewhere racy at least once a year. I still want to read a lot of books. I still want to work on my languages. I still want to read books. I still want a house to, you know, put all my books in. Could all that happen just anywhere? Would I stagnate if I stopped moving? If I partnered up? Is it possible to have a life that's not lived out of a box, or is it this constant routine that weighs you down, that takes up all that living?

At some point I just ask myself: was I happier in South Africa living on red wine and cigarettes in my little cockroach infested flat than I am here living with two jerks and two dogs, working as a tech writer in Ohio and dating somebody who makes me laugh?

Because, you know: South Africa! Experience! It was awesome. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's made me an incredibly strong person. Every move, every experience, has made me stronger. It's given me better stories. I'm better for having been there. But if you're measuring the quality of life by your level of happiness? I was happiest those first couple years in Chicago before I got sick, and happiest here now, with the good friends and the good job (and I'll be happier with the health insurance fucking works). Some of that happiness is, I know, just being around other people. Spending too much time alone really does wear me down, and after awhile, I lose my sense of focus and perspective and it all goes to hell.

We need other people.

Even though I hate that.

I like what I've done and what I've accomplished. I like the road I'm headed down. I'm wondering now, I think, what else it is I want. I went out and proved I was smart and strong. I'm working at getting stronger, building a proper career now, and I hope, building other things too.

I'm just not sure what I'm ready for yet, or what I want or need. Sometimes, I get this terrible feeling in my chest, this hole in my heart, and I wonder what it is I'm missing. Back in the day, I'd fill that up with food or, later, exercise, or maybe writing. Writing often fills the hole.

But, more and more, I realize that during these black holiday times, it's not food I'm craving, and it's not a picket-fence house, and it's not a new Jeep or an iPod and it's maybe not even cheap insulin.

I want to know that I'm enough. That I've done enough. That I've run hard enough, fast enough. I want somebody to say that I did well. That I can stop running. That I've proved myself. The thing is, every time I think I'm done running, there's always something else. The next thing and the next thing. Some way I can be better, stronger, more accomplished.

But who am I trying to prove my worth to?

Just me. Just me, because at the end of the day, that's all that matters. Everybody else will take you or leave you, as they please. I'm the only one it matters to, but that's maybe why it hurts so much when I think I'm not this dynamic, worthwhile person in other's eyes. It's like, fuck, don't you see how fucking hard I fucking work? You think I just woke up one morning with three degrees and wrote ten novels? You think I jump up every morning and this shit is easy? You think this shit is easy?

It's never easy, not for anyone. It's never perfect. I'm never perfect. I'm in a constant state of becoming.

Maybe that's why I always feel like I'm so tired, like I'm in a race that I'll never finish.

I want to be good enough for me. That's the trick.

I'm just afraid that if I stop running, if I'm good enough, that it'll all fall apart again, that I'll revert to somebody I used to be, that I'll become someone I hate.

If that constant state of becoming is tiring, it's tiring because it's hard to get to this place, harder to get to the place I want to be.

Long race, big finish.

That's the plan.

Diabetes: Levels of Care

I continue to fight with my insurance company about my prescription benefits. The thousand dollar HRA that my company provided me is supposed to go toward our $1100 deductible, and according to my account online, is billed automatically. This has worked when I go into the actual doctor, but it's not working for prescriptions. When the pharmacy submits the claim, insurance insists I still have an $1100 deductible, and makes me pay the full amount out of pocket.

I've now paid nearly $500 in medications in the last month. Yesterday it was $179 in testing strips. Yes, for a month's worth of testing strips. When I was poor and "not really insured" (I had a *real* $2500 deductible), I spent about $50 a month in testing strips. This change of brand and amount of testing is a decision I made with my endo based on what the new meter could do for me and what insurance would cover.

Thing is, there are levels of diabetes care, which I think that not a lot of people really get. There's nothing so fucking aggrevating as relying on lab-produced drugs to live. If you want to live bare minimum, hand-to-mouth, you can use expired insulin, get free insulin from your endo, find a local "emergency pantry" diabetes clinic (ours is only open from 9-3 M-F, which basically means it's not made for people who are employed), and test 3-4 times a day instead of 7-10.

And that, of course, is how I survived during that long dry spell between January and June. I used insuline for 60 and, once, for 90 days - two to three times longer than I should have, literally until it started working so erratically that I couldn't rely on it anymore. I tested less often, with a generic meter that didn't record my numbers, so I had to record them by hand. I did, in fact, use exercise and a low carb diet not just to control sugar but because I used less insulin.

This kept me at about $300/$350 a month in meds.

When I can get the fucking paperwork sorted out for this insurance (at this point, I have to go to my HR manager again. The "customer service" people at insurance agencies can't change anything, can't talk to your account manager, can't research anything, can't do anything but read back what they see on their screen, which is what you see on your screen, and they can't make any sense of the billing error either, let alone fix it), I plan to get an insulin pump. Once again, an insulin pump is a very rich privileged diabetes choice. It's expensive to buy, the sort I want is expensive to maintain (about $300 a month), and you still have to buy testing strips. At least this one comes with a built in glucose monitor.

Fighting with my insurance company has already brought me to tears twice. It reminds me of the days of expired insulin and the hoarding of testing strips.

There's this strange terror about "giving" people "free" or "affordable" health insurance because, well, they'll use it. I find that "fear" incredibly funny, because it's not like we'd be "abusing" benefits or care... it's just that for the first time in our lives, we'd be getting the proper kind of care we need. When I was underinsured, I didn't go to my endo every three months like I'm supposed to. In fact, I'm supposed to be seeing an nutritionist and a diabetes educator in addition to my podiatrist and endo. I wouldn't have seen my podiatrist for the minor complaints I'm seeing her for now, either. All of these doctor's visits, using proper insulin, testing the number of times I need to, I wouldn't be doing those things.

And, in fact, if this paperwork isn't fixed soon, I *won't* be doing those things, cause I'm about to max out my credit card.

Insurance, decent salaries, these are things that give us the *proper* level of care, instead of forcing us to rely on emergency care and tragic complications because of the bare bones strategies we've used to survive on our paltry salaries. I still have over a thousand dollars worth of hospital bills from those three emergency room trips I took earlier this year that I'm trying to sort out (none of which were even diabetes related). I can't afford $500 a month in meds on top of that, and I don't want to go back to the life I lived when I was paying $300 a month in meds. It wasn't fun.

I do have a chronic illness. I will die without drugs. Without the proper level of drugs, I will die horribly and more quickly. In any case, I suppose, we all die, but if the care exists to keep me a productive member of society, why not do it? Why let the people who are willing to care for themselves properly die for lack of drugs?

Lucky me, living in America, I have a credit card. I'm white. I'm middle-class. I can find access to cheap or free drugs if I lose my job (we'll see after tax season - nothing is certain), but what about everybody else? I get that there are a lot of diabetics out there who don't take care of themselves, who don't manage it, either from lack of education or lack of interest, but more and more, I realize there are a lot of people with poor self care who suffer from lack of resources. It's an incredibly expensive illness, if you want to take proper care of it. It takes a lot of time and effort, and so much of that is completely invisible. It's my Lantus and Novolog and my meter in the little black case. It's discreet shooting up before meals, even more discreet now that I have pens instead of vials and syringes. Unless you see me work out or watch how I count out units of insulin and measure out units of food by eyeing it over every time (yes, every time) I eat, or you know I have to put on the "pause" button during especially fun and unexpected bouts of sex because my sugar is plunging and all my wiring is turning off, unless you see me waking up in the middle of the night with lows and testing three times between midnight and one am trying to make sure I'm not overcorrecting, unless you notice the way I stare at people running down the street so nonchalently with some envy, because sudden and unplanned-for bouts of exercise can strand me, shaky and blacking out, in the middle of nowhere, unless you see me nearly blacking out or constantly checking my pockets before I go for short walks to make sure I have sugar with me, unless you see me during one of those "unplanned" walks when I *didn't* have sugar, well... I guess on a casual level it looks like no big deal. It's just a shot before lunch.

There's a lot of stuff you just do, this stuff that becomes part of everyday life, these things you have to weigh and measure and plan for and have backup plans for. There's a lot of carb/insulin/exercise(personal and professional) math that goes on. There's a lot of concern about having stuff I can eat around at work and family and restaurant functions. There's a lot of feeling like a fuck up and a failure and a screwup and a broken person sometimes, too. There's a lot of correction and overcorrection. There's a lot of exhaustion when you meet new people and realize that they still think that all being diabetic means is that you can't eat sugar (seriously). There's a lot of non-interest in talking about diabetes and chronic illness among a group of people who have no idea what you're talking about, cause they're just not going to get it.

I get tired sometimes.

I was coming home from the gym the other night and watching some kids doing school sports drills and thinking, "Wow, remember the freedom in that? Of just running without thinking about it? Without wondering if you remembered that lifesaver in your pocket, without second guessing what you just ate, what your last number was?"

I was out and about last night, playing Wii boxing, and after two games realized I probably shouldn't do a third because my sugar was probably going to plunge, and did I really want to test again at a social function? Because really, who wants to be "That chick with the chronic illness?"

Fucking nobody.

So I'm sucking up my $500 in medical bills until my claims get sorted out. I'm talking to my HR manager. I'm resolving not to get any more angry. I'm not getting hopeless. I'm remembering that it's a gift and a privilege to be here, that I almsot died last year, that death's a lot closer for me than for other people, that these are borrowed moments, and I need to make the most of them.

If all it takes to live a little longer is a maxed out credit card and jabbing myself with a needle ten times a day, really, that's not so much at all.

I just keep telling myself that.

Well, Yes

What Cronenberg Movie Are You?

You are: A History of Violence - Most people don't know your true nature (and you'd like to keep it that way). You know who you once were and you'll fight to the death for what you want now.
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