Archive for the 'exhaustion' Category

the other kind of social disease

The Meriam Webster Dictionary defines the term “social disease” as the following:

Main Entry:  social disease

Function: noun

Date: 1891

1: venereal disease.

I’d like to respectfully submit a second meaning:

2:any disease or condition that significantly impacts ones social life, friendships, relationships, and general interaction with society…

I was recently diagnosed with CFIDS or Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  I have seen doctor after doctor after doctor.  I take medication for anxiety disorder and an inability to manufacture enough GABA (the stuff your brain makes that allows you to physically relax) and have for more than ten years.  These are realities I’ve come to deal with and are, for me, not terribly debilitating.  Sure, I don’t sleep well, but I’m I don’t have agoraphobia or claustrophobia or any other phobia that keeps me from fully enjoying my life- having several large circles of friends, enjoying the blessing of living in NYC and all that it brings, traveling the world over for business and pleasure, finding absolute nirvana being a stranger in a strange land.

I have been sick and tired over the years, suffering bouts of exhaustion and increased pain that left me cranky, sleepless and with an intense desire to hibernate.  Some attributed this to a latent depression or the aftermath of being hit by a van whilst crossing the street almost 20 years ago.  The accident did a good bit of damage to my body, the effects of which are felt more intensely and impact my life more acutely at times.  Spoken or not, most people assume the former, not having been in my life for the accident and all that followed. 

By people, I mean my friends and acquaintances.

I’m not going to lie.  I found this to be frustrating.  I have seen internists, orthopedists, physiatrists, therapists (physical and emotional), psychiatrists, neurologists, accupuncturists, every kind of “-ist” one can think of.  I’m very proactive about my health.  I don’t despair.  I have rare moments of sadness over the some of the tougher aspects of my childhood/ young adulthood.  I always pull through and I’m always OK. 

The last six months, however, have been out of control.  I was out of work for months, for what I thought was some crazy-mutant evil sinus infection.  I’ve had surgery, taken steroids, exhausted supplies of anti-biotics, changed my diet, everything.  I just couldn’t get better.  And I didn’t know what to do.  Staying home all the time because I was too tired or dizzy or fuzzy to go out didn’t leave me with much to talk about other than what was wrong with me.   Naturally, this affected my relationships with people.  I mean, how many times can a person listen to someone complain about the awful smell or electric mucus or fatigue or headaches, or whatever.  It’s a drag. 

You see, just because you’re anxious or tired doesn’t mean you’re depressed.  And even if one IS depressed, it doesn’t mean you’re not physically ill.  My affect has always been positive, regardless of my circumstances, and I’ve yet to meet any one of the “ists” that felt differently.

Continue reading ‘the other kind of social disease’


but that’s not even on the main periodic table

so, as i mentioned in my last post, i had an MRI this week.  it was, as you suspect, what the kids call “good times.”

i had to schedule it early because i need to keep people at work a little less up to date on my personal life.  leaving early and coming in late may not put me in career jeopardy, but it definitely needs to be a non-issue. 

i got up early, hung over (yeah, i know, but i needed that relief) and headed down to the office.  i walk in and it’s this big, airy, light, monochramtically neutral space with lots of bonzai trees and teddy bears.  the extra touches for comfort somehow make me a little more uneasy.  i walk up to reception and hand them my prescription.  the look of consternation on the nice lady’s confirmed my fears: this was not going to be easy.

i’m one of those assholes that always has a small tingle of impending minor disaster in the back of my brain.  i could be armed with three hundred in cash and six empty credit cards and yet i always feel that i’m going to be humiliated at the supermarket by not being able to pay.  when i am having an easy conversation with someone i’ve met several times, i say their name and am suddenly convinced that i said called them the wrong name.  despite the fact that my fears are almost never realized, they have not abated.

this time, however, i face the self-fulfilling prophecy: something’s wrong.  turns out my scrip is for a +/- contrast test and i didn’t mention that on the phone when i made the appointment.  i explained again as i did when i made the appointment that i can’t make out the doc’s handwriting and gave them what i could get out of it.  the problem is that the nurse is out today and there’s no one to inject me with the gadolinium (the wha?) for the contrast part.  i have to reschedule.

ugh.  i’m leaving for vacation on weds night (yay), but i’m in cleveland monday (boo), so that leaves little time to get this done this month.  we settle on tuesday, which means i won’t know results until i get back from the canaries.  not ideal.

then, captain radiologist comes to the rescue; he’ll do the injection.  huzzah!

i head downstairs, take everything off and put it in the locker and curl up on the inoffensive beige couch in my robe and settle in to read cosmo girl and listen to the soothing beach sounds emanating from the lighty seascapes on the wall.    after i sit there long enough to become thoroughly convinced that they’ve forgotten about me, they come get me, give me the surgical hair net, put me on the table, put on headphones (they have top 40 or lite FM for my listening pleasure) and put the cage over my head.  i think that’s really the worst part, the head cage.  i’m not claustrophobic, so the super enclosed tube and the inability to move don’t bother me, but the cage is for sure disconcerting.

the test went, well, the test went.  i didn’t have a reaction to the gadolinium injection (huge relief, the disclaimers sounded awful).  for those of you who were wondering, it’s a rare earth metal on that part of the periodic table that has to be shown off to the side like alaska or hawaii on a map of the US.  atomic weight of 157.24 and is solid at room temperature.  apparently, it binds to some damaged areas of the brain.  i looked it up.

then, i was off to work.  i had too much to do to accompany the kids to the 7-11 they’ve made into a quickie mart.  all the adults were at my boss’s son’s briss, save me.  i had a lot to do and i just couldn’t kick my rotten mood.  it was an exhausting day, physically and emotionally, but the worst was not being able to shake off the mood.  i have too much to do for that kind of self indulgence.

anyway, my doc gets the results monday afternoon.  i have more tests at his office on tuesday morning, so maybe i’ll find out then, or maybe i have to wait until i get back.  it’s not like it’s a big deal, really, because my doc gave me the heads up on the situation, which can be summed up in the words of the inimitable david brent: “i have bad news and irrelevant news….”

but i did get a blue squishie.  and it was delicious.  simpsons fan or no, i recommend you hop on down to the quickie mart and treat yourself.

the boss of me

literalismi’m totally having one of those “dancing in the dark” moments.  you know, “i wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…”

i’m not sure if bruce meant that expression of ennui to extend to your job, friends, family, name, home furnishings, country of residence… but i think he did.  and man, was he singing my tune.

you know that girl who has a great, fun job, an incredible apartment, many and good friends, is (relatively) financially solvent, blah, blah, blah and has no apparent reason to complain?  well here i am, and i’m doing it anyway.

i’m just exhausted.  i have to tell you (whoever you are, dear reader) that chronic pain really can put a damper on all the other stuff you’ve got going for you.  for years and years, i thought it was something i just had to live with and i was tough about it, and didn’t complain.  hell, my gimped out leg, banged up brain and creaky, crackly neck were not going to be the boss of me.  i laughed at their petty attempts to slow me down, to make me uncomfortable, to turn the world and my stomach upside down.  and i wasn’t going to take no pain killers or sleeping pills neither.  it just was.  me against them.  and i knew who was going to win that war.

 so then, a couple of years ago, i go to a new doctor and i hear this new whispering on the wind: you don’t have to hurt, you can be healed!  you can be saved!  you can be whole again!  it was like a tent revival with the elders speaking via the tongues of acupuncture needles, electronic stimulation and lidocaine injections (among other fun for the whole family).

there was this totally weird side effect: a begrudging hope.  i might wake up one day and not be hurting?  hell, that’s putting the cart before the horse.  i might be able to fall asleep one day, and not have the pain and tension keep me up and wake me up and wear me out the whole night through?  at first it seemed crazy talk.  but the more people i saw, the more my impending recovery was touted, the more i believed.

so, i go.  i get injected with syringes full of lidocaine in my neck, shoulder, hip, head and face twice a week.  about forty to fifty shots in all.  i get cracked and realigned and twisted and pushed and stretched at least once a week. i am coached to make my body relax to ease the pain in the name of rest and sleep for a couple hundred a month.  i spend seventy percent of my disposable income on copays, treatments not covered, prescriptions, you name it. 

 now comes the next weird side effect: defeat. 

 i’m not saying i don’t feel a bit better.  i do. a bit.  after treatment, usually the next day and maybe the day after that.  better, not good.  but the raised expectations have made the reality that much more demoralizing by comparison.

now, don’t get me wrong.  i know in the grand scheme of things, i’m floating on air.  nothing fatal, nothing debilitating, nothing acute.  it’s hard to articulate.  sometimes i think the worst part is that people are understanding, but they don’t understand.  get vertigo and have to will yourself not to wretch in glass building? i know trust me. pull a muscle?  that’s my daily condition.  tear a rotator cuff, arthritis stinging, strain a ligament?  i know i live it.  all the time. 

people don’t really want to hear it.  and you know what, guys, neither do i.  seriously.  i’d love not to talk about it, or think about it, or complain about it.  i feel like a heel right now.  a totally selfish, self-sorry jerk.

so what do i do now?  i keep trying.  i take the painkillers.  get the sleeping pills.  and if that doesn’t work, i think i might want to go back to my roots: telling the pain to fuck off and pretending it did.  it may not get better, but it will stop ruling my world. 

 just needed to get that off my chest.  thanks for listening.  i’ll go back to writing about inanity and pop culture and digital etiquette.

i promise.

ah, the power of cheese

i don’t mean the literal foodstuff, cheese, though that clearly has it’s wonders and its merits.  no, kids, i refer to the sociological type of cheese.  and the creme de la creme of this cultural curd is, of course, B horror movies.

i have been traveling to and from cleveland almost non stop for the past three weeks, following a two week sojourn abroad for successive, long trade shows.  i have had almost no time to eat well, exercise or even relax.  i have been working my tail off (lo, only figuratively.  the midwest spread is apparently contagious).  i have been in back to back meetings whether in new york or the cleve.  spend most of my meal times in meetings or airports.  putting out fires, struggling with the inconsistencies and holes in communication flow that a new company has in spades.

the upshot is:  i’m exhausted.  drained.  knackered.  fried.  broke down. jacked up. sleepy, add your synonym here.

quick examples:

last week i excused myself to go to the restroom at a local , well-patronized bar and opened the door to the bathroom.  for a good twenty seconds i stood staring at the urinal, knowing it signaled that something was off, but unable to process what, exactly, the issue was.  as i slowly backed up, i noticed the ubiquitous stick figure representing the male of the species next to (oddly enough) the word “Mens.”  this prompted an epiphany to which the only response was to sidle five feet to the left and enter the more accomodating “Ladies” room.

i wrote a poll on my fantasy baseball team website in which i spelled the word “threw” as “t-h-r-o-u-g-h.”  for those you who know my fastidiousness when it comes to spelling and proper usage of english (including being seriously uptight about their, there and they’re as well as to, too, and two, you’re and your. it’s and its), you know this is not a favorable indicator of my personal mental health.

finally, i was offered the opportunity to be part of two things that would normally bring me untold joy: a subway series baseball game with best friends and a ricky gervais show with other close and wonderful friends.  i have bailed on both to lay in my bed, exhausted, in physical pain strong enough to make me cry, feeling quite sorry for myself.

there is only one thing that can take my mind off this pathetic personal failing:  a well spent $3.95 for a grisly,sufficiently acted, clever death scenes B horror movie.  My nirvana, my escape, my personal Calgon.

to which, friends, i must return as the peace it gives me is quickly fading. 

so please, don’t mock, but embrace the so-bad-it’s-good gen x philosophy; it is a salve to soothe the shattered soul.**

ok, that’s somewhat melodramatic, but i was going for alliteration and my options were limited

just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean homeland security isn’t writing all this down

LOS ANGELES, May 10 — Michael Moore, the provocative filmmaker who has made a career out of skewering automakers, gun enthusiasts and the Bush administration, is being investigated by the Treasury Department over a trip he made to Cuba for his new film, “Sicko.”

This month the department sent a letter to Mr. Moore saying it was investigating whether he had violated restrictions on travel to Cuba when he accompanied sick workers seeking free medical care as part of a documentary on America’s health care industry.

Treasury Department representatives did not return phone calls seeking comment. On Mr. Moore’s Web site, the film’s producer, Meghan O’Hara, called the department’s actions a “politically motivated investigation.”

The ailing workers shown traveling to Cuba in the film had helped clean up the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The letter from the Treasury Department asked for detailed information about the trip, including evidence that Mr. Moore was employed as a journalist. Journalists can secure permission to go to Cuba.

The government also sought the name and address of the travel agent who made the reservations, and receipts, and the names and addresses of all of those who went on the trip. News of the letter was first reported by The Associated Press.

Chris Lehane, who was press secretary to Vice President Al Gore and has been retained by the Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, said the Treasury Department had been aware of the trip for a long time.

“We feel comfortable with the terms with which we went to Cuba,” Mr. Lehane said.

Harvey Weinstein, a co-founder of the company, said the timing of the letter suggested an attack by the Bush administration meant to discredit the film. But Mr. Weinstein said: “They are only causing more publicity. It’s so ironic. They should let sleeping dogs lie.”

He said he was concerned that the Treasury Department would try to prevent the part of the movie shot in Cuba from being shown. “We have the resources to fight,” he said.

“Sicko” is set to open at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19 and nationwide on June 29.

If past behavior portends the future, Mr. Moore and his backers will most likely use the government inquiry to the film’s advantage.

In May 2004, Mr. Moore and his agent, Ari Emanuel, went public with complaints that the Walt Disney Company was refusing to distribute the film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” causing a ruckus in Hollywood and Washington. The movie earned $220 million at the box office worldwide.

fleeing (to) the cleve

so, all of you 30 Rock fans out there- which should be all of you- must have loved the season finale, “Cleveland.”  it was typically hilarious and ridiculous and, as usual, has creepy parallels to rather specific things in my life.

like liz’s cell phone ring is wagner.  the cell goes off.  the english avian bone chick says “oh, you like vagner?”  and liz says “no, i like elmer fudd.”  and so, dawn turns to me and says “damn.  she is you.”  which i like, because I like to pretend i’m as successful, smart or funny as tina fey or liz lemon.  we do have a lot in common, though I do have the better name and am not pretending to vote for Barack Obama.

so then, the episode goes on to be all about cleveland and the excellence of ‘the cleve’ in relation to nyc.  and where would i be traveling to eight (EIGHT!) times in the next three weeks?  you get the gold star, kids!  the cleve. 

several of these fantastic trips filled with cash and prizes (read: marathon meetings and getting lost at HQ) involve the 6:30 am flight out of laguardia and coming back later that night.  next week, i’m actually coming home for 20 or so hours on wednesday, just to remind myself what my bed is like, and get my body a little un-twisted at the doc’s. 

yesterday’s first taste bodes well for the merry, merry month of may, as i sat on the runway at cleveland hopkins airport for hours because of thunderstorms.  not the ones that were actually happening in cleveland (as we were getting on the plane, i was watching lightning hit the runways), but the ones that might be happening in new york later.  might. be. happening.

the upside is that i do get to see a game at the jake (weather permitting), but as yet see no lunch with little richard at the r&r hall of fame on my itinerary.

also, there’s no alec baldwin involved.  i know, i know.  but he makes me laugh and has the best voice on the planet.  and trust me, my dad’s said way worse.  so get off my back.

mt. fuji is a very shy mountain. hai! aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh hai!

cue up the Vapors, it’s time for my “observations on tokyo” email.

Shortly after writing my last entry, I got up, got out and went shopping in Shinjuku. This led to three, no four, observations:

1. Nearly everyone in Tokyo is really well dressed. At all times. For all occasions.
2. Shopping seems to be the national sport as all the centers, malls and department stores were stuffed to the gills with browsers and buyers.
3. This place is not nearly as Americanized as is portrayed in the media. Aside from the proliferation of Starbucks, of course.
4. Hai! It’s like “smurf.” It seems to mean everything. You hear it all the time. At the beginning of sentences, as punctuation, in the middle of words…

Also, people are a lot louder than I expected. I was in a trendy store called Laundry buying the expected hilariously translated t-shirts. There was a sales girl, very nice, helping me out with her arsenal of english language shopping phrases so that I could use my inane hand gestures a wee bit less. Anyway, when not helping me, she was just yelling. Of course I have no idea what she was saying, but I could tell that she wasn’t talking to anyone in particular and all the sentences trailed off in a “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hai!”

I took one of those guided tours that I generally avoid like the plague, this one to see Mt. Fuji and the hot springs at Hakone. My well earned “day off.” We drove out to see the mountain, which is way cooler even than it looks in photos and on TV. It totally stands out from the mountains around it, and seems ultra special. Apparently, it’s also a very shy mountain, as it likes to hide behind the clouds, so if you see it, you’d better take pictures immediately. Since it rained like crazy yesterday, there were mudslides and we couldn’t get too close. We went to a peace shrine instead, which was beautiful.

Then off to lunch at a hotel (I was the only person on a bus of forty that chose not to have “western style” chicken, but opted for the Japanese lunch instead. Weird.) then cable cars over the mountain to the springs. Any of you who know me well are going to be very proud when you see the photos of this thing.


Then, we got to Owakudani Valley with all the springs, reeking like sulphur as hot springs tend to do. The draw for this place, though, is that they boil eggs in the sulphur and iron filled springs, which turn black from the combination of minerals. They say if you eat an egg, you add seven years to your life. I bought “one” (which turned out to be six) for the novelty, convinced it would be disgusting. It tasted just like a regular hard boiled egg. Score seven years for me, without foul effects. I shared four of them with French Canadian pilots and stewards and then brought the last one back to the hotel for a snack (14 years!!!); my bag may never be rid of the smell.

Then we took a “pirate ship” across Lake Ashi. I don’t know why it’s a pirate ship. Our guide suggested because the other company runs plain boats, it gives them an edge. Ridiculous.

Finally, I took a bullet train back to the city and then walked around for a while looking for that section of Tokyo that you always see in the movies- you know, the Blade Runner looking part. I think I found it, but I’m not sure. This city has so many downtowns.

I lucked into a subway station (my own line, no less). Lucked into guessing which might be my stop by comparing general locations of landmarks and ended up a block from my hotel. Oh, and I found the gaijin. They’re on the subway. I was wondering where all the whiteys were.

That’s all for today. I have real business meetings tomorrow, all day. Then Harajuku for ridiculous souvenir shopping on Weds before I head out.

Ah, Tokyo, I barely knew ye.

Ciao, kiddies.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no Law & Order, at least not yet. These people are clearly missing out.

it’s raining in tokyo


Because I am a total jackass, I did not check the dollar to yen conversion rate before I left Melbourne,  Sydney, New York or wherever.  Cut to me getting to the Citibank ATM after 11 hours of flying and arriving in Tokyo at about 8:30 pm.  or 10:30 Melbourne time.  Or 9:30 am yesterday in New York.  Or whatever.  I go to the ATM machine, put in my card, and for the first time in the long history of my travels have absolutely no idea what to do.  I had to cancel my transaction, go check out the Thomas Cook rates, come back, stand in line and get money.  I  still didn’t quite understand because I barely got enough to pay for my train ticket to the city.  Then I had to go back again, wait for some seriously confused Brits to get their cash and withdraw about ten times the amount I’d originally done.

Incidentally, and oddly enough, shit’s a lot cheaper here than in Australia, as least as far as food is concerned.  I’m waiting for that illusion to be shattered.

so, Japan is getting all the rain Australia so desperately needs.  It is pouring.  I was planning on retailling (like shopping, but you take notes instead of buy things) or go on a day trip.  now, i’m thinking of renting movies in my room for 2500 Yen a pop (no, I have NO idea what that is).  maybe read finish my horrible crime thriller.  Take a shower.  Watch Barack Obama on CNN International (man, are people as or more obessessed with the election as Americans are). 

Or maybe I should just buy an umbrella?


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
May 2018
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”