Tracking where my pain patches are going

For over a year now, I think, I’ve been using the Butrans pain patch as part of my regular prescriptions. It has been life changing, literally. You apply/reapply this patch once a week. It stays there. You can get it sort of wet with few issues. I try to keep mine out of direct water but that can be difficult.

From the manufacturer’s website:

BUTRANS should be applied to the upper outer arm, upper chest, upper back, or the side of the chest (See Figure A). These 4 sites (located on both sides of the body) provide 8 possible BUTRANS application sites.

Personally, for me, I have to focus on my arms and back. I question if they did much work for locations on women, because breasts. Oh noes! Anyways, that’s another topic.

Because you aren’t supposed to “re-use” a site in less than 3 weeks I made this tracker or journal because it’s otherwise impossible to remember. When I was updating it again, I thought I’d share it. I actually type up the specific dates I’m to change my patch so since I change it every Monday night, the column on the left will include the dates of every Monday for many months. The left and right location columns are so that only have to write down “shoulder” or “back” in either column. It’s a little easier. I added a notes section in case you want to be able to note site reactions.

If you so choose, you can print this out or save it. (I’ve never shared a public Google doc. so I’m assuming you can save it for yourself.)

Here’s the link to the tracker.

New Patient paperwork 

I’m trying out an internist, which is different from a GP or PCP, and so I have another set of new patient paperwork to fill out. An internist is possibly more beneficial for me because of my high levels of comorbidity. Most of my medical history, medicines, and stuff, are actually already typed out into 6 pages. It’s formatted and organized. That means I don’t have to write out some stuff on new paperwork. More often though, I need it because there’s not enough room on the doctor’s paperwork. It’s also helpful because my hands will sometimes start to jerk involuntarily if I’m doing a lot of hand writing where I have to keep within specific formatting, like filling in blank lines. 

Side note: it’s interesting to see which doctors prioritize which diseases in past medical history. This doctor has AID/HIV (yes it’s a typo) but doesn’t have MS.  

So yea, this is my fun times so far today. 

Working on setup for my new Bullet Journal 

Every time I move to a new journal I make my journal a little more stream lined and I’ve learned a lot in the past journal. I think I started this October 2015 and this is my third journal. Since I’ve learned there are definitely some things better tracked long term or monthly instead of daily or weekly this journal might last longer too. 

Here’s my new one. 

Some things I’ve noticed. The elastic band closure for the notebook is wider and stronger. The paper isn’t exactly smooth but it’s very strong and sturdy. The book itself feels sturdy. I made sure to go thru and try to stress the spine evenly so the book won’t fall open to the same pages all the time. Can’t tell (yet) how to describe how it feels to write on. It handles the Faber Castell PITT artist pens well. The ghosting from the brush size pen is very obvious but not unpleasant enough to annoy me. I’ll have to check different colors of my uniball pens to see how the ghosting varies by color. 

I think I really like the grid lines. 

And the stickers came from Michaels. I bought them 50% off. Even though these are for the specific Create 365 brand of journals I think I can use most of these to add some variety to my bullet journal. 

I’ve been using a slip over the front cover pen/pocket holder thing but I might switch it to my doctor appointment tracking journal instead and keep my pens for my bullet journal in one of two other holders. The slip cover makes it difficult to write on the left side of the journal when there are pens in it which wouldn’t be an issue with my appointments tracking since I only write on the facing/right page. The green case will hold my ruler but the pens would knock around. The blue case holds pens or pencils more securely. 

They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Let’s talk about notebooks for Bullet Journals

I’ve been keeping a bullet journal and adapting the techniques to my own life for now over a year. At least. I’m needing a new journal so I thought I’d do more research this time around.

Previously, I’ve used the official Bullet Journal, a Leuchtturm1917, and a Rhodia webnotebook. All of these have the dot grid style page. Rhodia has 90 gsm weight paper but the Bullet Journal and Leuchtturm both have 80 gsm weight paper (since Bullet Journal is made by Leuchtturm) and that’s not think enough for me. I really like the index and page numbers in the Leuchtturm but it’s not worth the trade off of thinner paper for me. I seem to have a heavy hand and prefer liquid ink. Though I’m also having a great experience with a Faber Castell artist pen. I would get another Rhodia except it has the least number of sheets (96), which is slightly offset by being able to use every page, but it seemed best to check my options.

I’ve also been using a pocket thing slipped over the front of the notebook to hold pens/etc. I could switch things up and attach this to my doctor appointment tracking journal instead. Especially since I’ve started favoring different pens in different journals. (I favor a lined book for that notebook but that’s another post.)

Thank you to the random people who wrote up great blog posts about what they thought were different options. Through a few google searches I found more notebooks than these listed here. Call this selection the finalists.

Rhodiarama Soft Cover Notebook – pretty, very pretty. The slightly larger size would probably offset the fewer sheets (80), but still these are kind of expensive. I love the paper in Rhodia books too – the look, feel on my hand, and how it handles ink.

Miquelrius Soft Bound Medium Journal, 300 Sheets/600 Graph Pages – The paper weight is only at 70 so I would definitely only be able to use one side of the sheet but it’s more sheets! Overall, I’m still getting more pages than the other notebooks I’ve tried. But, I’m not sure a fountain pen wouldn’t bleed through multiple pages and I’d like to be able to go back to using my fountain pen(s) more since they are (more) comfortable.

Northbooks Dots Hardcover Notebook – Then I found this one. It seems simple enough and has all requirements. The 89 gsm paper should fit my requirements and the 96 sheets are ok. But there’s nothing compelling here.

And I think this one is the winner:

Essentials Grid-lined Notebook – It has 100 gsm paper! Also, while doing my research I realized I’d like to try grid-lined instead of dot grid. It only has 192 pages but it’s $12.99 (full retail from manufacturer) which is a significant enough difference to make it more attractive than a Rhodia. Also, maybe the binding is better?

Tangent:

When looking up the Essentials Grid-lined Notebook on the Peter Pauper Press’ website I discovered log books that might be relevant to my interests. Daily Food Journal which could be used for symptoms for nailing down food sensitivities. The Book Lover’s Journal which might be something I want to help me remember books I’ve read. I’m not sure about the Daily Food Journal though, maybe just save it for the future. I’m more tempted by the book log book.

Maybe I’ll make another post when I investigate new tips for my Lamy fountain pens and find some alternatives to the ribbon bookmarks common in this style of notebook.

Just a regular day when you’re chronically sick

Or a day in one person’s #chroniclife. Or a typical day when you’re a professional patient. Or the opposite of a fun afternoon. Call it whatever sounds good I guess.

Left the house around 2:15 for a 3:00 appointment. Appointment is to have a very short in office procedure and see the doctor. Supposed to take about an hour total. Forced to valet because the first parking lot had at least four people circling that I saw, so there was probably more. The second parking lot was full. The third parking lot was at least a 10 minute walk and might have made me late so I was stuck going with valet which isn’t part of my routine because I like to sit in my car and have a snack before I leave. Grumble.

Check in at doctor’s office. Pay $300 between the copay and the procedure cost because my health insurance deductible isn’t satisfied yet. Wait 25 or so minutes in the waiting room. At least 20 minutes past my appointment time my name is called. Pro tip: If you have a doctor who seems to be always late, get the earliest appointment you can manage.

Medical assistant person does my vitals, tells me what to expect with procedure. (BP was good, yay!) Have problems with antibiotic and soap because of my allergies/possible reactions. Almost have a panic attack while I’m waiting for someone to come back into the exam room because I’m basically flashing back to the time an asshole doctor told me the diagnosis I clearly didn’t have, without talking to me. (He completely dismissed any of my symptoms and problems and excused me of not respecting him because I wanted to ask questions.) I didn’t want them to think I was trying to be difficult. When I realized I was near tears I recognized the panic and concentrated on breathing slowly for a minute or two. Thankfully that helped and I didn’t have to wait that long for someone to return.

Finally, 5 minute procedure is done. Get dressed. Wait for doctor to come back who, while I was there, talked to at least 2 other patients and made a phone call. I probably saw the doctor for about 15 minutes. 20 minutes absolute max. All my questions were answered and I was given a month of free samples of my med. This is a good doctor by the way. She actually called me “love” during my appointment. I have no idea if she typically runs late because it’s only the second time I’ve had an appointment with her.

Left the office, stopped at the restroom, and then left the building, ate a peanut butter cup, retrieved my car from valet ($4), and then set off home. Took about 35 minutes to get home. Traffic was lighter than I expected. On the way home I managed to miss every single gas station where I could stop to get water.  I was at the doctor longer than expected and so drank my liter bottle before I left the building. Should have bought a bottle of (overpriced) water at the gift shop. Ended up having “peanut butter cup mouth” all the way home. Home about 5:05. Soon as I got home I needed a snack before my blood sugar went any lower. The super simple procedure caused me enough pain that I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening on the couch – when I’m not doing chores. (Silly body, this pain is stupid.)

I have another doctor appointment on Thursday but it’s the chiropractor and he’s never been late.

Then on Friday I get my xolair shots and spend at least two hours at the infusion center.

Both appointments are a half an hour from home (one way).

I don’t have time to work.

Chronic illness forces you into the job you didn’t want (updated)

Some background first… Because I have health insurance through my husband’s employer I have no control over my insurance provider. As of the first of the year, our insurance changed, completely. We went from Cigna to Aetna. The Cigna plan didn’t have copays and the Aetna plan does. So on one hand, in the past after I satisfied my deductible and out of pocket (which has happened as early as March) I don’t have to pay anything. On the other hand, the Aetna premium is MUCH LESS but I have to pay every time I go to the doctor. With Cigna I could have my prescriptions (every 30 days) at my local pharmacy and after I satisfied the aforementioned requirements I didn’t even have to pay for prescriptions. Aetna also requires you to have all your prescriptions through their mail order pharmacy if you want to pay copays instead of 20% of the retail cost of the medicine – assuming I understand the insurance jargon correctly. Correction – see more below **: Aetna discounts the medicine by 20% and I have to pay 80% on the spot to be able to have the medicine that basically keeps me alive. My pain patches just cost me $372.24 for one month. Insurance saved me $69.05. I can file some kind of claim somewhere, somehow and get reimbursed some amount of money. I think?

Side note: I have a number of super expensive brand name medicines. All of them are super important for my quality of life or just straight being alive. The retail cost for my medicine that helps keep my migraines under control is a little over $1000.

Retail/local pharmacies process your prescriptions in like one to three days. It could take me over a week to get a new prescription processed with the Aetna pharmacy. Sure, it’s great that I can have 90 days prescriptions. However, I’d trade that for being able to easily ask a pharmacist questions almost any time I want without having to fight a confusing automated system that wants me to talk to it even though none of the options seem to apply.

All of this is the background for most of my yesterday. Yesterday I was making or receiving calls continually between 10:30am and about 1:30-2 pm. I had short breaks to eat. I had to call the Aetna pharmacy twice. I had to call the Aetna FSA twice. With each instance/department one phone rep was very helpful and one was the complete opposite. (One of the Aetna pharmacy phone reps had never heard of some asking to provide the pharmacy with their drug allergies and the supervisor I talked to was clearly wondering (“Why in the hell am I talking to this woman about this elementary shit?” She was not saying it very loudly.)

Anyways, I also started calling my doctor’s offices to provide new insurance and request refills on the meds I need soonest. For example, I used my last pain patch Tuesday night and they last 1 week. This means I have to make sure the prescription is sent to the Aetna mail order pharmacy but I also need to have a prescription for 30 days sent to my regular retail (now secondary) pharmacy. I probably have to do this four different medicines. All of them are at least a few hundred dollars each, at least the one over $1000 as mentioned above. I think I might also have to file claims for all of those medicines too and you can’t do that online.

Side side note: Mail order pharmacies, as well as FSAs that reimburse instead of allowing you to use the money directly assumes a certain amount of status and privilege. If we didn’t have credit cards I’m not sure how we’d pay for my meds this month. Also, this is why lifetime limits on health insurance benefits are very very very bad. I will have to get another medicine from the Aetna Speciality pharmacy. Depending on if you (if anyone even reads this) are an able bodied person who takes few medicines, or someone with a disease like me which requires extra special medicine, you may have never even known speciality pharmacies are a thing. I need to obtain my MS medicine this way. The last time I checked, in about a year and a half, maybe closer to two years, 90 days of my MS meds (Tecfidera) went from around $15,000 to almost $20,000. Assuming $20,000 that’s $80,000 for just one year of one medicine. You would think that pharmaceutical companies would want restrictions on lifetime benefits to continue to be illegal so that they can continue to make money off of their medicine.

So, all of these changes to my insurance and pharmacy options turned into working. I basically worked half a day and I ended up in pain from sitting still at a table for that long (not even in a hard chair). I also ended up with a tension headache. I didn’t ask for this job. No one pays me for this job. Sure, you could argue that I’m ultimately paid by my health being better – except that all of this costs me pain as well as physical and psychological energy that means I have less energy for other things. So it’s like I’m paying twice.

It’s still a job, regardless of what anyone says. It’s a thankless job that most people do not truly understand. It’s a horrible stressful job because it’s all full of red tape, corporations ultimately only worried about the bottom line, as well as doctor offices where often all the employers are overworked – and likely underpaid just like me? It’s even often an anxiety inducing job.

And all of this work doesn’t even account for the four to six other doctors I have to call and request refills from and or provide my new insurance too. I have a great deal more work to do in the following weeks

I didn’t ask for this job and I can’t quit it. I never have a day off. This is every day of my life. It doesn’t really have set hours either. (One of my doctor’s techs returned my phone call at 7:30 this morning. That’s outside of business hours.) This job doesn’t allow me to form any sense of community or connection and make friends. Basically, I’m a professional patient. Being a professional patient doesn’t have a clear job description. I can’t say that’s not part of my job. This job provides no sense of fulfillment because I have helped someone or created something – or any other reasons a job might provide you personal fulfillment – thereby improving your mood and quality of life.

It’s a horrible, stressful, and thoroughly unpleasant job and I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy and now I’ve spent almost an hour writing a blog post about an unpleasant day instead of doing something fun like playing Civ VI. This is why sometimes I just want to crawl in a dark corner, hide under a blanket and try to escape from the world.

Maybe in another blog post I’ll talk about all the paperwork and records organization I need to do on my own time that’s another part of my job as a professional patient.

Correction and updated added after I picked up some of my meds at the pharmacy. I still need to get one more filled and possibly pay over $800 for it. Also, Aetna lies. The 20% discount isn’t true for all medicines. I’ll save you the math. On the above mentioned pain patches, I was discounted 18.5% from the total retail cost. 20% would have saved made the final cost around $368.

Then I called Aetna RX again to try to get more information to understand this crap, despite my coverage information/paperwork saying that the cost is discounted, what I actually pay in a retail pharmacy is 100% of the “negotiated” cost. Negotiated means it can change whenever they want it too. It’s like my MS meds I mentioned earlier. Also, it takes 3 business days before they can “see” prescriptions requested by doctors but the phone rep couldn’t tell me why. We probably get to pay $800-900 for 30 days of my medication for migraines because of this “3 business days” BS.

Goodbye Carrie Fisher

I grieve for what she didn’t get a chance to do. In the next few days we are going to get flooded with people talking about Carrie Fisher. She made such an impression, I can’t even imagine. I realized I’d like to search Google for some good pictures of Carrie Fisher so that led to a blog post! One of the reasons why I loved Episode VII: The Force Awakens so much is that Carrie Fisher came back to Hollywood, she wasn’t young or pretty or skinny enough. She just was. And the scene where GENERAL Leia hugs Rey? I’ve always seen it as them making a connection, immediately. Kind of the way Chewie and Rey seem to make a connection when they are in the cockpit of the Falcon together.

I know/knew of Carrie Fisher’s work/advocacy for mental illness and always meant to look into one of her books but somehow never did. Priorities? Being too busy? I’ll probably get one now. I’m glad to know that filming on Star Wars Episode VIII was finished before Carrie’s death. That’s something at least. I’m sure I’ll be a mess when we go see it in theaters next year.

Now I’ll just rely on pictures being “worth a 1000 words” and leave it at that. I know, there could be tons more pictures. The first picture is the most powerful because it bridges generations.

November 2016 My NaNoWrimo

How did my NaNoWriMo go? I wrote almost 28,000 words. I’m very happy with what I accomplished but I am a little sad I didn’t “win” with the 50,000 words. My month was also way crazier than I wanted/hoped for.

Accomplishments:

  1. I wrote 27,871 words of a novel. It was not my original idea, I changed my mind and then did not have enough time to do much outlining. That’s 27,871 words I’m still willing to look at and add to in December instead of just wanting to ignore the hideous conglomeration of ideas that may or may not belong together.
  2. I finally have my own personal set up in Scrivener for novel’ing, especially during NaNoWriMo – or when I don’t have that much outlined. I have to figure out how to make it a template and also update the character templates with more information/options.
  3. I started with clearer more fleshed out characters and what I wrote is less of a disaster and more of the start of something I can manage to finish.
  4. I can write 800 words a day fairly reliably regardless of how crappy or tired or exhausted I feel, as long as I have a decent outline or an idea of where to start.
  5. Stayed sane and didn’t freak out about my trailing word count.

What else I did in November:

  1. Attended a Lindsey Sterling concert. She’s a fabulous performer. She’s intelligent, funny, adorable, and down to Earth. She’s great with a violin too. I recommend her youtube channel for writing. Great music and something you can also watch if you happen to get stuck or need a break.
  2. Saw Dr. Strange. It was still a typical Marvel movie and therefore good and worth watching again because it was entertaining. However, I think the Dr Strange character was flat compared to other heroes in the Marvel universe, and other characters could have also had more depth/detail. I feel like the characters suffered because they needed more screen time for all the neat special effects.
  3. Saw Arrival. Fantastic movie! I cannot currently remember the title of the story it’s based on but I have it on kindle now and need to read it. I’m pretty sure Arrival inspired me to add some things to my novel. (I can’t remember now.) I recommend this movie, especially because it had a female character trying very hard to keep the world from going to shit (further).
  4. Took one of our cats to the vet. Discovered she has a tumor pressing on things in her neck. This is not good news but it’s probably not cancer at least.
  5. I had five different doctor appointments that were all specialists. In my experience specialist appointments always take longer. One appointment took 4 hours from the day – but was very productive. Another appointment took less than an hour from the day but was horrible and stressful and I cried in the car. (not going back there) There was also an appointment that involved receiving trigger point injections in my neck – much needed – but resulted in no computer use that day.
  6. I had two physical therapy appointments. Those last an hour.
  7. Learned the counselor I’ve been seeing for therapy for at least the last two years is on medical leave until further notice. Well, I had a lot of shit happen in October and was really looking forward to the counseling appointment I had scheduled the first week of November. Scheduled with a new counselor who may or may not work out for me.
  8. I had two chiropractic appointments. These were my first two ever appointments with chiropractor (and receiving acupuncture).
  9. There was, I think, two different visits to labs for blood work.
  10. There was getting a haircut and some shopping too.
  11. Read some comics and finished reading Ready Player One. The book was not amazing but it was solid. I enjoyed the world and plot, and the author’s attention to small details. I recommend it.)
  12. I dealt with six different migraines or headaches. None were severe so I would have averaged “losing” half a day and not being able to accomplish much. Severe migraines are losing 1 to 4 or more days to pain management.
  13. Went to knitting group twice because socializing is health, at least in small chunks and getting out of the house for something besides going to the pharmacy, grocery store, or doctors is vital to your sanity.
  14. I finished a number of knitting projects, including a baby gift for a previous coworker. (Good people receive hand knit gifts.)
  15. I re-visited/re-tried a coffee shop that’s not $tarbucks and managed more than one writing session outside of the house. yay!
  16. Of course there was Thanksgiving.
  17. And how could I forget Election Day and the rest of the week and being sad and scared about the unknown coming for the next who knows how many months or years. Will I lose my health insurance? Will I lose any rights or access because I’m a woman or will I be safe because I’m white (and married)? Will any of my friends be in more danger because they are different?
  18. Then there was a few days with major weather changes that affected my ability to focus because of causing me more pain and other similar problems.
  19. Started a few new knitting projects too, including some gift projects that aren’t on ravelry yet. (I should fix that.)

So, that was some exciting stuff, some totally normal stuff, and eleven medical/health related appointments. I had wanted to keep this month clear of doctor appointments and I hoped for less headaches. Neither happened. Basically, I had wanted no more than two appointments each week.

After four different doctor appointments this week, time spent with a friend, and time spent with my husband outside of the house (dinner, shopping, etc.) – I guess there’s no surprise that I am TIRED. Fatigued. Exhausted. Sore. I plan to spend December focusing more on knitting. I have three (smaller) gift knits and I want to swatch for my first adult sized sweater (for myself!)

Supernatural!! Dallas Con 2016 Part 2

This post will be more pictures, including the stuff I bought. Wow it’s taken me way too long to actually get back to this post. I think this is supposed to mostly be about Mark Sheppard.  He started out his Q&A pretending? being? Crowley. I think I’ve loved this man in every role I’ve seen him play. He’s annoying and convincing and something. There were a few questions that were just awesome to see and hear him respond to. Someone tried to ask him about his opinion about the presidential candidates for the 2016 election and the face he made at this was SPECTACULAR. Nice reminder about actors playing characters being just another person. Also, he used that opportunity to talk about why the US is great and why you need need need to go vote. He asked later question askers if they were going to be voting. It was great. It was also amusing when he got to the back of the “ballroom” or whatever and said something like “oh look! The poor people!” …. but he also liked it back there because it was cooler.

I can’t pick between liking Misha or Mark more. They were both awesome. Stuff I bought first.

The only Creative Entertainment purchase I made was a “Humans are so Fragile.” tshirt. This is a simple canvas bag with a shoulder strap longer enough that it crosses over your chest and it’s comfortable. I bought it for an alternative for my regular bag purse thing which is a freaking messenger bag because it’s versatile. The company making these were genius because I saw them everywhere and I think they are made to hold the notebooks they sell to keep your photographs and autographs that you get at cons’.

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And this was one of the many pieces being sold by a woman who made lots of handmade jewelry. Similar to this yet not. She was also wearing compression gloves. I can’t remember the exact name she had for this piece but it references Baby. (You also got a discount if you said “hey assbutt”.)

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Food! Here’s the horrible pathetic burger I ate at the hotel’s “cafe” because they didn’t have a full restaurant open during their remodel. I was even going to try food from the gift shop instead but that was closed too. (No bun because gluten bad.)

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On the way home we stopped at Liberty Burger and I definitely made up for the almost tasteless food I ate earlier with this. I splurged and ordered a cider. I couldn’t finish it but the side effects weren’t as bad as I was expecting. I was actually able to enjoy some of it! This burger was so very yummy and their “skinny fries” are awesome.

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And now, Mark Sheppard pictures. Because I’m a rookie for cons I was initially very confused why the house lights were brought up when he started…but then didn’t mind him walking around. The first picture is the OMGIWASFOURFEETFROMMARKSHEPPARDPICTURE!!!!!!1111111

*fanself*

Did I do that right? Anyways. This is where we end, with a few bad pictures of Mark Sheppard (in skinny jeans!!) walking around talking to people. He wore a Crowley tshirt too.

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Too Many Hobbies October 2016 edition

Or, unofficial nanoprep to do list.

Mostly this is to order things in my head and if I put it here maybe it’s easier to find later!

  1. Finish the surge shawl WIP. It’s close.
  2. Actually finish that one baby knit that I had so much trouble with before I switched patterns.
  3. Play Civ VI
  4. Wind the Cascade Yarn worsted merino so I can gauge swatch for the Harvest sweater by Tin Can Knits. DEFINITELY start this December 1st.
  5. Decide on one idea for NaNoWriMo 2016. (Or nanoprep step 1)
  6. Finish Nanoprep blog post?
  7. Write up an Act 3 outline of said idea in step 5.
  8. Flesh out the outline as described in steps 5 and 6.
  9. Type up my “rules and reminders” for NaNoWriMo participation. Put on blog and or print out and hang up with NaNoWriMo word count calendar.
  10. Block the everyday shawl in green gradient.
  11. Visit the Ross Perot museum.
  12. Prepare to see Lindsey Stirling first weekend in November.
  13. Color some posters, in November too when I’m needing breaks from NaNoWriMo.
  14. Note any doctor appointments on NaNoWriMo word count calendar. (Post-Its if necessary)

Turn off the news, go read about the presidential candidates by yourself

Or, politicians lie by omission and the media doesn’t give you all the information either. Or, this presidential election sucks more than the last one. Or what in the world do I title this blog post that talks some about presidential candidates for the 2016 election? I cannot find a way to title this blog post. ugh. Anyways.
So I was finishing up my research on state level candidates and realized I’d never looked up Gary Johnson. My research includes looking for candidates personal websites, checking out some issues there and then maybe doing some additional searching via Google.
It was way too easy to find something wrong.  Gary Johnson states on his website the deficit doubled under Obama, after doubling under George W. and that it was all due to wasteful spending. I distinctly remembered that the deficit has decreased considerably during Obama’s term in office. I turned to Google and tripped straight down a rabbit hole.
Because my memory sucks, I checked dates:
Clinton before 2001
George W. 2001-2009
Obama 2009 forward
 
Deficit in billions:
1999: -125.61
2001: -128.23
 
2002: 157.75
2005: 318.35
2008: 458.55
 
2009: 1412.69
2010: 1294
2011: 1295
2012: 1087
2013: 679
2014: 485

2015: 438

So, in case we forgot, Clinton balanced the budget. George W did more than double the deficit. Obama increased the deficit severely, yes, definitely. It looks scary. However, since 2009 the deficit has decreased to levels lower than George W left it.

It doesn’t seem appropriate to mention these two Presidents in the same way, suggesting neither did nothing more than wastefully increase the federal deficit. There is where we need another measure and unemployment seemed pretty easy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t post a annual rate of unemployment in any place that a quick Google search can find. So I looked at the same years I listed the deficit and picked the highest rate of the 12 months that year. An average might very well be lower than these numbers. I used this source.

 
Unemployment, highest monthly average each year:
1999: 4.3
2001: 5.7
 
2002: 6.0
2005: 5.4
2008: 7.3
 
2009: 10.0
2010: 9.9 (in December)
2011: 9.1
2012: 8.3
2013: 8.0 (in January)
2014: 6.7
2015: 5.7
2016: 5.0

Ah yes, 1999, back when gas was near $1 a gallon. Anyways. So from 1999 until now, you can almost say unemployment continued to increase until 2010. From 2011 till now, it has slowly decreased. From 2001 to 2009, under George W., the federal deficit and the rate of unemployment increased. From 2009 to “now”, under Obama, the federal deficit first increased exponentially but then decreased in very large amounts while the unemployment rate continued to decrease. The unemployment rate was cut by half during Obama’s term. Here’s a long article with great pictures about job growth during Obama’s term.

I find Gary to be very misleading. I’m also not happy with the lack of mentioning disability rights or the very little time he talked about veterans. In fact a lot of his website sounds like it was written by the marketing department of some kind of bad technology company. For example, there’s the headline on Gary’s section about environment. (Incentivize innovation? Really!? Seems like that would fit better in a section about small business? Or a bad joke about the internet?)

Then there’s Gary’s final words on the environment which infer that regulations for the environment have cost Americans jobs. It turns out that a lot of the job growth under Obama was in “green jobs” too. Here’s an article. There’s plenty more. Also, Gary doesn’t take a stand on climate change but Hillary does.
Gary’s website talks about jobs with a lot of vague words that don’t answer questions and he doesn’t mention anything about disabilities and people with disabilities keeping employment. Hillary’s website talks a lot about rights and she looks at jobs, taxes, the economy, and wall street reform as all separate issues. She also wants to make sure disabled people and veterans have opportunities (for jobs too).
Side note: I think it’s interesting to see how many different issues a presidential candidate’s website has statements about. Gary’s website has a lot of holes. It reminds me of taking an Introduction to such and such class where you don’t learn much more than if you like that subject. You definitely don’t learn enough about the subject to be knowledgeable. The only hole I could find in Hillary’s detailed website was anything about international diplomacy.
So I haven’t talked about Trump who wants to “make America great again” …. well I guess that’s because I need more information. Does Trump think all of America is shit? Which America when? How far back do we go? What part about America now isn’t great?
Before or after women gained the right to vote? Before or after the Civil Rights Act? Before or after the ADA? Before or after WWII or 9/11? Before or after Obama fixed the economy? Before or after the FBI updated the legal definition of rape? Before or after making same sex marriage legal? Maybe he wants to go back to before climate change started to cause horrible damage so he can fix it? Or maybe back before the Patriot Act? Or …. who knows what he means.
At least Gary doesn’t scary the shit out of my like Trump does. He just makes me wonder if he knows anything about being part of the federal government – on any level. Hillary’s website sounds like it’s representing an experienced politician.
Please, go learn about the candidates yourself. If you have access to the Internet on a computer it’s easy but still possible on a phone. Think about what you read and go vote on November 4, 2016.
Now let’s crawl back out of that rabbit hole we just fell in….
rabbit-hole
…and go look at something else. (Kittens! I promise it’s kittens!)
shh0uow

Supernatural! Con Dallas 2016 part 1

I finally can say that I went to a con’…. Few weeks ago we went to the Supernatural convention that was in Dallas. It also turned out very good that we bought season 11 of Supernatural so that we didn’t run into any spoilers at the con. In the past we’ve waited for Supernatural to show up on Netflix to save money. (No cable, see part about saving money.)

Travelling is expensive and difficult when you have a limited diet so I was super excited that a Supernatural convention came.to.Dallas. Super excited. Because of money we went for Saturday tickets and didn’t go to the Louden Swain concert. It was only $100 but would have cost more gas money, more time in the car, and more difficulty with food, probably some eating out, so it was way more than $100 for us to go. We didn’t buy any photo op or autograph tickets either because we found them expensive and the lines were also amazingly long. Maybe if we had more money and had paid for more than 1 day?

The venue was kind of horrible because the hotel was doing major construction. Like should have closed level of construction. Their “cafe” was offering a limited menu and we were stuck there for lunch. We didn’t want to have to play the search for a parking spot game again. (There was so many parking spaces in the parking garage filled up with badly arranged carpentry equipment or stuff like old carpet.) When we first arrived, the up escalator was broken.

There was an interesting variety of vendors. Being there on Saturday we saw the end of Brianna’s and Osric’s panel. Then we had to wait until later to see Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins. We had reserved seats so we never had to fight for seats or anything. We also had decent enough seats, a little closer might have been nice because I would have been able to take better pictures with my phone. Jared and Jensen showed up on Sunday. We were a little bit glad we were not going to be there for Jared and Jensen considering the level of noise when Misha and Mark walked out on stage. (In other words it was fucking loud.) Would have wanted earplugs for J2. Really enjoyed hearing both Misha and Mark talk.

I think I might remember more of Mark. (Why oh why did I not make this blog post 2 weeks ago?! ARG!) When Mark came out on stage, Louden Swain played some ‘versions’ of Mr. Crowley. The country version was maybe the best? There was an extra fantastic part when Mark was asked about the current presidential election and he turned it into GO VOTE! (Side note, he’s a US citizen now.) Mark also did this fun bit where he walked the whole way around the room….he also acted a bit like Crowley. He was just fun to hear and see I guess.

I bought a few neat/nice things too. I need to keep looking around for some kind of Supernatural themed notebook.

We also saw/heard a little of Louden Swain. Maybe I’ll finally fucking remember to investigate their music! We even talked to God! Holy shit I would have been unhappy to have that spoiled!

Maybe the most important part of the whole experience was the atmosphere. There were so many people wearing You are enough shirts. I can’t remember if Mark or Misha asked for a show of hands from people who have depression … but seeing the sea of hands made me feel like I belonged.

Ok then, (mostly bad) picture time!

This is the one and only Charlie cosplay I saw. Her costume was very well done too. 

And here’s a few shots of the stage. We were over 30 rows back so these pictures are hard to see/kind of blurry. These first three are Louden Swain.

And in these next few… Misha is in the red jacket.

And these are from when Misha was doing his Q and A panel. 

He’s on his phone because he had to talk a call from his daughter. ♥️ Then Mark Sheppard appeared.

I’m going to put pictures of Mark Sheppard when he did his panel and the pictures of stuff I bought in another post. I’ve fought with WordPress multiple times since the con trying to get these pictures uploaded. Maybe two posts will make it work. And then the WordPress app on my phone didn’t actually publish the post when it said it did. LIES! Part 2 Soon!

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy 

I had this brilliant idea to take a few extra pictures when I go somewhere and do a thing and maybe this will aid me in remembering what happened. We arrived early enough to stand in the “merchandise line” with barely any wait. There were a few people there in cosplay. The best were the couple who did Tara and Locke from FFVI. (I didn’t know that, I had to ask.) I guess I should have asked for a picture but they had lots of people asking. (I was glad to see people politely asking permission like is appropriate.) 

First, our seats. Yup. Good seats. 

We got to hear music from Final Fantasy performed by the Dallas Symphony and a local college chorus. It was all the awesome you might expect. Oh I even took a picture of my ticket. 

Picture of the program.. The Maria and Draco opera was intense! Completely different from when we’d heard it from the first concert. The music from XIV was beautiful. I’m glad they included Zanarkand and the Chocobo Melody was the most entertaining one. They also played One Winged Angel as the last song. 

Some of the merchandise available were original soundtracks for Final Fantasy VI through X….imports. Each were 3 discs and cost $45. Josh has more experience with Final Fantasy so I let him pick. 

I even managed some Pokémon Go and picked up 3 Pokémon I didn’t have yet. I think. (The guy sitting beside me saw me playing and asked what level I was. Once I learned he had stopped playing when school started everything became clear… His girlfriend (?) didn’t look that happy?, they showed up late, and he spent most of the first half looking at the program. Also worth noting, don’t sit in the row that’s against the glass surrounding the stairs down, no foot room. 

From inside the building… 

Some slightly ridiculous pictures too… A bad bathroom selfie because I love the shirt I wore and a picture of the knitting I brought with me… 

And finally, a picture of the plushies. I insisted we buy the whole “set”. 

This is the second time we attended one of these concerts. If the tour comes through Dallas again, I’m sure we’ll attend again. 

And! I think Josh now wants me to play VI and I have remembered I wanted/want to play VIII and now I’m curious about IX. 

Oh Cats: Goodbye Murphy

Murphy June 2015
Grumpus

Last week, 10 days before my 36th birthday to be more exact, Josh and I had to put down our cat. We spent a lot of the last 6-8 months wondering if he was going to last through the next month. I worried he wouldn’t make it to one of my best friends coming to visit (You know who you are <3.) We worried. As far as we are concerned, we were worried parents, we are parents.

Murphy started out as Josh’s cat. I knew Murphy basically as long as I knew/have known Josh. I guess you could say since I visited TX in the summer of 2004 before moving to TX a year later. Murphy didn’t like me then. I was interfering and definitely not welcome.

Murphy 12_2013
Cat goes here

After I moved it took a quite a few months for Murphy to decide that he liked me. We still remember the first time I grabbed that damn cat by the scruff of the neck because he was “strumming” and banging the window blinds. (You know those crappy metal blinds you usually get in apartments? Those ones.) Murphy had such a look of utter disbelief. Who are you? What? Why? You aren’t supposed to…..! What do I do about this? He was so confused. It was quite amusing.

That was in 2005. Through the years Murphy has been the stoic grumpy old man cat. As he aged he got grumpier. He dealt with kittens and moves and well, life with humans. He dealt with Codex. Eventually he decided he liked her love and attention – except maybe when he had to stop and sit 4 times to get across the living room because she would keep loving on him. He figured out laying on boobs is the best. He got outside a few times a year perhaps? One time he managed to sneak out when furniture and appliances were delivered on the same day at the same time.

Murphy Codex Dec 2015
Codex curled up with her Murphy in the sun

The first sign something was wrong was that everyone who came to visit would comment about how skinny he was. Murphy stuck around for a long time. He was on “hospice care” for the past two – two and half years. By 2016 we were compounding him pills about once a week. Three different medicines into little gelcaps, as well as feeding him wet food pretty much whenever he wanted it.

Murphy 5_2016
Murphy the lap cat

This year I knew he wouldn’t see the winter. The spring storms were too hard on the little guy. Then in the last few weeks he had started moving around even less, sleeping more, getting needier, and just seeming so tired. Codex started sleeping more so she could take care of him too.

Murphy Codex July 2016
Codex takes care of Murphy

Cats are great at hiding pain but you can see a lot in their eyes. This damn cat was great at big brown puppy eyes. I didn’t mind the needier that much. Anyone with cats enjoys a lap cat. A lap cat all day can be difficult, but it’s doable. Kind of. If it wasn’t so stressful and that whole getting up to pee thing.

So then almost 2 weeks ago, we talked, we were sad and he went to the vet one last time to try one last thing. We didn’t want to tinker with his meds and keep him longer just for us. We followed our hearts but also the facts. Murphy was always so dignified and we didn’t want him to lose that by keeping him here longer. So we had one last weekend to baby him – he started to wonder why he was getting so much attention we thought. We had some crazy cat ladies come over and say goodbye. (You know who you are. <3)

Then Monday morning he went to the vet for the last time. It’s one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make but I can resolutely say that if you are a pet owner/caregiver you will know when it’s time to say goodbye to your sick pet. You’ll see it. You’ll know when they are too tired to go any further. You’ll know when it’s reached the point where it’s too much for them. You’ll question if you kept them around too long too.

Our vet said to us as we left without our cat “If I come back as a cat, I want to live in your house.”

Murphy 2016
Murphy 2016

He was the grumpus, the damn cat, the sack of potatoes (referred to when carried on your shoulder) and Codex’s boyfriend. He was calm and thought everyone who arrived was here to visit with him. He must have owned a collection of “been there got this shirt” t-shirts and so he didn’t get freaked or scared or run for just anything. (Looking at you Codex.) Murphy will be that cat who was stoic and dignified but also, always really, so sweet.

Living the Chronic Life: You don’t understand

This isn’t nice and shiny. This isn’t about thinking positive. It’s not about Internet memes with serene landscape backgrounds. I’m not looking to sugar coat anything because this is life. Life isn’t fair and this is my life. Mine. I don’t care what you think or what you want to say, you probably don’t understand because you haven’t had my experiences. I don’t pretend to understand your life. I’m trying to be realistic.
You can pretend, you can try to empathize but you don’t get it. You don’t truly get it to the very core of your being. That’s where it matters. You can’t understand how soul crushing it can be to stop and think about all of the opportunities and experiences and potential I have lost. I’ll never get it back.
I’ve had my dreams and life plans taken from me. Stolen. My identity has been changed. It feels like it was overnight but really it’s been very slowly, excruciating so, over days and weeks and years. Some days I feel constantly reminded that I can’t do what I went to college for. I have 2 college degrees but can’t work like I planned to. I had hopes and dreams. I’m not talking about making millions here, I’m talking about wishing I could have my dream job where I’d be helping my community. Helping people. My ‘plan b’ was teaching in a community college. Instead, I’m a professional patient. Sometimes I think about what teaching would be like and I freeze up because I don’t know how much I remember from my education, or if I could successfully do something as simple as answer a student’s question.
No one asks to be sick when they grow up. No one says going to the doctor is fun, I want to do it more often! Being chronically ill is like a full time job that never has the same hours or work week to week. You never know what you’ll be doing, when, or where you’ll be going. You don’t get paid. Your life feels like it’s controlled by someone else, something else. Being a professional patient is difficult. No one is prepared for you. You have to develop your skills as you go and you must for your own survival. You’ll talk to doctors who don’t believe you or think you are seeking drugs.
 I don’t want to take these pills. Naps are nice but not having to nap is nice too. I don’t want to nap so much. I want to take a walk without worrying if I’ll hurt for three days afterwards. I would like to help people without endangering my health. I don’t want to be in pain every day for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to be anxious about whether time out with friends will cause me extreme physical pain for days and days afterward. I wish I could work instead of sitting at home watching Netflix. I wish I could receive a paycheck.
Some days I’m not sure I even know who I am anymore. Here in America, most people identify by what they do. Jobs or careers are important. Making money is important because it allows you to be independent. I cannot make money. I can only do so much in one day. Going to the grocery store is hard. Driving across town is difficult and painful. On the wrong day or a bad day, just standing in the kitchen and washing dishes is practically impossible.
My days are split up by eating, taking pills, maintaining my body with stretches, and sleep. Chores or doctor appointments are accomplishments. Walking out to retrieve the mail from the mailbox is sometimes a great achievement. Better days are no migraines or not needing any extra pain meds.
My sense of identity, my feelings, my memories, my cognitive and physical abilities – all of these things were changed without my permission. I have very little control over how I’ll feel when I wake up tomorrow morning. Or the next day. Or next week. Let alone next month.
You don’t understand. Not really. Not unless someone or something ripped apart your life, dreams, and identity and patched it back together in whatever haphazard way she, he, or it choose. If your life has been changed by some horrid trauma or event that you deal with every day and you can never really recover, then you understand.