A TMI update, from yours trulyPosted: November 3, 2014
It’s been a while since I updated this blog with a post on my personal problems, as if you, dear Internet, were a kind and old friend. Maybe you are. I have some good news, bad news, and neutral news from this last year to share with you. And yes, my crotch is still relatively fine, thanks for asking.
Since my last post, I’ve managed to get health insurance this May through ObamaCare, though that was canceled last month. The government had BlueCross terminate my insurance because they didn’t believe I was an American citizen. The irony!!! Their issue wasn’t my birth certificate, but my green card number. I never put my number on the healthcare insurance marketplace form, because I don’t have it, it is lost to me. For some inexplicable reason, this little laminated card was super important to the government. I do have a social security number and American passport and pay my taxes, but because the green card number was missing, my claims of American citizenship were suspect. (If you’re wondering, I became naturalized when I was 16 somewhere in New Jersey, with my mom.) That stressful bureaucratic bullshit was resolved last week and I can now go through the delightful process of re-enrolling for health care insurance. Yay! Times like these really don’t help me convince myself that my life is not one big cosmic joke.
Anyway, while I had insurance, I tried to make the most of it on my limited writer budget. I went to see a doctor over issues I am having with my digestive system, and since my first visit in June I have been tomato-based pizza and wine-free. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss various ingredients, beverages and entrees. My doctor diagnosed me with GERD and instructed me to see a gastroenterologist. I am not so sure about his diagnosis, however. I’ve lost more than 15 pounds since (45+ since January 2013) due to severe eating restrictions and difficulty swallowing food. Annoyed at my shrinking breasts, I’ve taken to splurging on really fatty soft foods (milk shakes, basically) when my stomach will allow. Thankfully, I’ve regained four of those pounds.
The weight loss has helped with my back, hip and leg pain, somewhat. I doubt my doctor’s diagnosis however, because I still have issues with my leg going numb, the muscles spasming, pins and needles everywhere, difficulty walking and keeping my balance. I’ve been mindful of my posture and try to stretch, do mild yoga, basic ballet moves and coordinated dance in the apartment constantly, the most I’ve done in my life actually. This has not helped. In fact, I think the problem has gotten worse. I’ve mentioned this a few times to my doctor but we have yet to really address this problem. He has seen x-rays of my hips that were taken last year, and those reveal a minor bone issue that shouldn’t be causing this kind of trouble.
I’ve been wondering more and more if what I have is MS, which is horrible to wish for but at this point I want a simple explanation. GERD is common among people who have MS. I was reading Montel William’s Wikipedia after he followed me on Twitter a while ago, and this part of his page struck me because it reminded me so much of my own ambulatory problems:
“When I stand up I need first to hold on to something and think about the positioning of my legs. If I were to just start walking I would fall. I have to get my brain to find my legs and then I will usually take a test step, but I say something at the time to anyone who might be watching to distract from what I’m really doing. Then I’ll find places to grab as I walk and talk, sometimes even walking backwards because I have more control that way. People have no idea that I’m doing this. But when I’m snowboarding and my feet are strapped in, my brain seems to have a direct connection to my legs. After snowboarding it’s night and day for my balance and walking. There’s a real physical change before I get up to the mountain and when I come down. The benefits last for days.”
His snowboarding is my biking, though I am still too scared, or exhausted, to bike more (the accident will have been 6 years ago this Thanksgiving, so I really should be getting over it by now, yes?)… his feeling of anchored legs I also relate to, and do, with a very heavy pair of winter leather boots. I mean, it is possible my walking problems are a result of my inactive lifestyle, or a damaged sciatic nerve due to tight muscles in the hip and buttocks region but I am doubtful, as I also exhibit other MS symptoms I won’t get into here. I should really explain all this to my doctor. I want to get an MRI, and an EMG, but they are so damn expensive. Crowd-funding for the tests is an idea but I don’t want to beg for money on the Internet.
One positive that has come out of the doctor’s visits is I am now talking Wellbutrin for my depression. (Major depression is another MS symptom!!!) I’ve had depression since I was a teen but back then it was fairly manageable with exercise and food. After my biking accident, however, it got considerably worse. I theorized this heavier depression had to do with me suffering a concussion, as is prone to happen to the concussed, but again, now I am not so sure. My doctor gave me the prescription on our first visit, but I didn’t fill it until after Robin Williams committed suicide. I cried when I heard the news. When I was a fatherless child, imagining various Robin Williams characters as my dad filled my heart with soft happiness. I am forever grateful for his existence.
I am almost done with the third month on Wellbutrin, and it is helping. I am definitely more my old self, though not entirely there. In addition to helping me get out of bed faster, dress better, attempt to organize my life, practice good hygiene and recognize and remember who I am on the regular, Wellbutrin also contributed to my weight loss. It killed my appetite. The side effects of nausea, dizziness and lack of appetite are also symptoms of GERD and, yes, MS too. My doctor thinks my weight loss is a mix between the GERD and the Wellbutrin. Maybe I don’t have MS, just three-plus separate problems that strike people that have it…??? (I am doing a bad job of convincing myself, I realize. I don’t want to a hypochondriac, ahhhhh!!!!! It’s probably not MS…)
I’ve also been cigarette-free since June, and hardly drink alcohol any more (due to the GERD).
Career-wise, I am still chugging along, freelancing, enjoying it. I am constantly amazed at how far I’ve come considering my severe decrease in mental bandwidth (the manic/major depression?) over the years. Christian Science Monitor recently hired me for their soon-to-launch security and privacy vertical Passcode and I play Mrs Manager over on NewHive for LadyBits. The NewHive/LadyBits partnership is cool for two reasons, 1) NewHive is on the cutting edge of digital culture and other artsy mumbo jumbo about the future, and 2) I get paid to write poems there. How many people do you know who make money off poetry???
Other work-related achievements the past year or so include freelancing for Variety, having scientists recognize and share my Motherboard work on microbes and microbiology, and getting paid to make photoshops for Popular Science through a LadyBits partnership. I spoke on a panel at SXSW but that went terribly — I think I had a panic attack before I took the stage? I was extremely disoriented and even pronounced my own name wrong. It didn’t help that going into the panel as the moderator I had prepared materials weeks in advance and shared them with the group via google docs but when I got to the practice meet-up the day before, the group decided to scrap my work and do something entirely different. I had a pretty miserable experience throughout the festival (too much walking hurt!!!), but found the average residents of Austin to be enjoyable. Actually, that is not fair to SXSW: I did have a great time at the Robert Rodriguez dance party, and a pretty good time at the Seth Rogan frat club shindig thing, and reconnected with some old website colleagues.
Besides SXSW, I found out my work was printed in four books. One is German, which solves the mystery of why all these German Internet-savvy types follow me on Twitter. One book, on politics, printed my photographs. The Guardian sent me a royalty check for selling one of my articles to another text book that is not out. I was labeled an “SJW to boycott” by 4chan at the beginning of the GamerGate madness.
As for book news, my mother keeps changing her mind. Half of The Curse of Gabor is her story, and if she is not ready to deal with the domestic violence in her past I can’t force it upon her through media exposure. Our relationship is currently strained, at my doing: I haven’t told her I started taking Wellbutrin because she doesn’t believe mental illness is real. I pitched one literary agent when my mom was in a green-light mood, but it was not a good fit for the agency. They were nice about the rejection letter, which made me feel better, but a rejection is still rejection. I’m planning on trying again soon. I’ve organized the order of all the chapters of my book with many chapters half-finished. The latest agent in my sights requires the first three chapters with the query letter so I am in the process of perfecting them.
Other fun personal things: I was in NYC for a wedding starring a good friend of mine from my childhood on Roosevelt Island and I chilled in Hilton Head at my mate’s parents retirement home in May. My mate still loves me and I love him like I used to and I am trying to be a better parent-figure to my 13 year old step-brother. My fashion tumblr still gives me pleasure, as does my hyperlocal pet project and playing TF2 with competitive gamers.
I have no idea what 2015 will be like. In the past, I’d fantasize and plan about the coming year, but this year I haven’t bothered. When my brain tries, all I see is a blank anyway. For some reason this doesn’t bother me. I have my hands full trying to live life like a normal person, one day at a time.