Day 5. Go Ahead, Murder Yourself.

Murder!

Join me in committing a murder.

I’m asking you to be accessory to a crime; I’m also asking you to commit your own murder(s), most likely plural.  Most likely we will be joyful afterwards.

The idea of having 5 days left to live is abstract.  As you know, I don’t intend to die on 11/13/12.  But having to confront the idea of dying from so many directions this year has brought me to consider it from an entirely different perspective, one that finally put me in a powerful position over the last several weeks.

What if someone, or more accurately something, does die, but (as is true with vegan dinners) nobody gets hurt in the process?

What if the 13th becomes is a deadline for murdering, or killing off, the parts of ourselves that are unhealthy, or that aren’t serving us well anymore. I don’t anticipate taking off limbs, or even eyelashes, yet in the process we will chip away minute parts of ourselves, parts that don’t weigh any more than an eyelash, small enough not to cause injury, but large enough to show slight differences in character in their absence. These distinctions, for example, would cause the new “me” or “you” to react entirely differently were a new doctor foolish enough to assign one of us an expiration date.

Think about it.  The idea of killing off yourself in this way becomes appealing, right?  I’ll start.  Then, I want you to jump on.

Here are ten pieces and parts of me that I will murder over the next five days.  Won’t you join me?

—  my rigidity, which might be termed my “my-way-or-the-highway”-ness as well as my obsessive nature.

— my difficulty with staying with any single task until it is complete.

—  my tendency to look up the truth on the internet during family discussions, unless that’s what we seem to want to do.

—  my tendency to accept the first assessment the doctor makes as THE WORD, or THE TRUTH (the replacement for this tendency might be a mixture of the above tendency, looking it up, with consulting second opinions when necessary).

— my tendency to obsess over unnecessary fine points, frequently to avoid dealing with the crucial.

— my propensity to want things I cannot have.

— my selfishness.

— my tendency to worry about everything. 

—my poor social skills (esp. at parties when I don’t know anyone).

 — my impostor complex.

 My list feels like the ultimate rough draft, as though it would take 100 or more list entries to approach the topic with any real seriousness.  But if I am truly to jettison, to murder, my obsessive nature, I must commit this murderous assignment, take its tenets seriously.

f about you?  Has this blog made you think about making changes year (or do you need to go back and start reading from Day 365 to understand what I’m talking about?  Don’t be intimidated by length; I wrote nowhere near 365 entries, or even nowhere near 100 entries).  What parts of yourself will you murder?  Why?  Let’s’ talk about it.

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Day 306. Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This is an idea I’ve blatantly plagiarized from the Crazy Sexy Life Blog (where you can read about Green Smoothies and all kinds of good, healthy living options and vegan food).  Kris Karr’s ideas are pretty compelling when you read her story:  Karr (who is gorgeous) had stage 4 breast cancer, which is very serious, and decided to treat herself with food, supplements, and healthy living.  Seems like she’s doing pretty dandy.

So, I liked her exercise.  Here’s my version:

2011 in Review (with gratitude)

  1. Started a Blog
  2. Said “no” more.
  3. Got to see Casey and Johnny.
  4. Wrote a lot, sometimes more than two pages at a time–a record for me in my present shape.
  5. Hung out more with friends
  6. Great CT scans! The aneurysms did not grow, and if they don’t grow again this time, I can graduate to one annually.
  7. Started literary Salon.
  8. Took a writing class with SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and met tons of friends who are writing books, too, who turned out to be better writing teachers than SARK.
  9. Spent a lot of good, happy times with my family.
  10. Kept up with my watercolors, making a couple of fairly good paintings.
  11. Met up with my oldest, dearest friend Scott, who I now hang out with regularly.
  12. Took several tele-seminars in great topics like World-Changing Writing.  They were fantastic and turned me into a full-time writer again.
  13. Got a PEMF machine; use it around 45 minutes every day.  Lowered pain meds dosage on most days.
  14. Tried to be kinder to myself.  Easier said than done.

2012 (What is to come)

  1. Join PeTA (check! done!….I know many of you will be haters because of their very public stunts:  those are the very reason I am joining.  I believe
    that PeTA’s popular culture status does more to promote veganism than any group like the Humane Society [with its obnoxious commercials].)

    Released into the public domain by PETA.

    Image via Wikipedia

  2. See Art.
  3. Visit museums of every kind once every month or two.  And just deal with the mobility issue.
  4. Finish my book enough to start sending it around to publishers.
  5. Get to see more Goddard friends like Lana, Gerard, Mary, and Christian.
  6. Go to the theater.
  7. Take an art class.
  8. Go to the movies more often.
  9. Be organized and present for my writing group, so that we can get our new ideal group off the ground.
  10. Hang out with Scott.
  11. Make art:  watercolors, tissue collage, lunch boxes.  Many media.  Make something once a week.
  12. Try not to think I’m dying right away when it’s just another health thing.
  13. Spend lots of time with the boyz (Harrison, Aiden, Greg, Jacob).
  14. Spend time with the parents.

Day 347. Pretty in PEMF

So my mom and Nathan watch the local FOX station evening news, and I happen to admit that because they called me the other night to say that Dr. Oz had been on to promote the next day’s show.  The topic was to be a patient-controlled device that seems to be quite successful in treating a number of health concerns, but particularly chronic pain such as headache, backache, and nerve pain.  Yes, please.

So, that was one Dr. Oz episode I TIVOed.  I was so excited about the topic that as I watched the show, I did more internet research than pay attention to the commentators.  Do you ever do that, and wake up from your internet dream only to discover that the whole show is over?  If you have a DVR, you can rewind it, but the time you set aside to watch it has passed and there you were, foiled by the time suck on your lap.

Well.  So, I learned that PEMF, or Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, has actually been around since the 70s, and received its FDA approval in 1979.  (To be clear, this has nothing to do with the ordinary refrigerator type of magnets sold fallaciously as headache and arthritis cures; it’s a different type of magnet.)  The device is frequently used in the field of orthopedics for things like broken bones that won’t knit and arthritic pain.  Also some rheumatologists and physiatrists (pain doctors) are experienced in treating soft-tissue wounds as well as suppressing inflammatory responses at the cell membrane level to alleviate pain and increasing range of motion.

The device(s) (by various makers) seem to have been studied extensively over thirty-odd years — although I did note among the 40 and 50 abstracts I read that none seems to have investigated in a large study group of beyond, say, 50 subjects.  But studies seem to prove in small groups that PEMF Therapy can treat acute pain dramatically well, and chronic pain as well, but somewhat slower.  This has been my experience so far exactly.

Here’s what it looks like:

These machines have one major disadvantage, and that is cost: at present, insurance doesn’t cover treatment, so there’s no $25 copay/visit, and even if there were, at the very least one should be treated three times weekly.  Ideally one would be treated twice daily.  At $25 a pop for copay, the cost would immediately be out of most of our reach (and who pays a $25 copay anymore?).  If there is any good news, it is that some of the machines are now made for home use. Thus, rather than costing $25,000, they cost between $3000 and $5000, which still puts them outside of most of our reach. We can gather, though, if the insurance won’t cover a copay, they certainly won’t cover the purchase price of the machine.

One company, iMRS, figured out a way to let desperate people try the machines.  They rent a brand-new machine for $500/month (with a refundable $1000 deposit on the credit card).  We can rent as long as we like, and if we decide to keep it, all the rent (and deposit) will go toward the purchase price (which is close to $4000).  The cost is still outrageous, but for someone who is desperate (and potentially has only 347 days left on the planet), all money starts to look like the gold-colored five hundreds in Monopoly:  imaginary.

That last argument not holding any water, my Mom and Nathan helped me rent it for a month.  Let’s see how it goes.

Here are a couple of other parts of the machine:

So far, it hasn’t afforded the miracle cure I’ve been hoping for.  I would say, though, that it is fairly miraculous on acute pain, like the headache I wake up with three times weekly that I mention in the probe video, a feeling like someone is cracking open the bridge of my nose and then chopping it up in pieces.  If I run the probe over the offending areas for the prescribed 16 minutes, the headache will be gone afterwards (rather than taking a day, or more, of extra narcotics to try to treat it).   Similarly, it can help sometimes with arthritic pain that pops up as well.

Karma is sweet, though.  Nathan has had a shoulder injury for many years from parachuting from a plane.  He’s a tough guy and doesn’t take any painkillers or complain, but he says he hasn’t slept well for as long as he can remember, and putting on coats and things have been impeded from his range of motion.  I put Nathan on for one eight-minute treatment for chronic pain.  He didn’t feel much different immediately afterwards–and he was pretty skeptical about the device. However, he called me the next day to say that he slept better the night before than he had in as long as he could remember.  And even more compelling was that he had just about 100% range of motion back, which he hasn’t had in lo these many years–since a few years after the injury.  It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, frankly.  He deserves it!  (He’s coming back for regular treatments now, to make sure the treatment “sticks.”)

Now, here is the controller:

There are so many settings–and I have just as many ailments–I have had some trouble choosing the proper setting to use.  My brother suggested choosing the most painful thing for me, the neuropathy, and empirically pursuing that for the next month. That sounded reasonable, so that is what I mainly do, for 1-2 hours daily (except when I need to treat acute pain). I’ll let you know what I find out.

Any lower back sufferers out there?  $20 a pop; meet me in my guest room!  (By appointment only)

369 Days: The Mobility Scooter

Pride Mobility SC44X Go-Go Ultra X4 Wheel

So I’m thinking about getting a mobility scooter.

Oh God.  That sentence weighs a thousand pounds.  Every word is power-loaded with deep, heavy shame and emotion.  You have no idea.  Let me see if I can build a window:

Last Monday, my angel mother very gently suggested that I get a scooter by handing me a page from a catalog with a scooter circled.  I turned my lip up in a sneer and gave her a list of fourteen reasons why I was not doing that.

This week following my command performance has been lousy with pain, sort of like punishment.  A few of the days, nothing I tried could shut it down.  That’s saying a lot, since I have an arsenal for pain, from meditation to very strong medications.  On days like that, I want to call my pain doctor and demand a stop to my pain that minute.  That must explain why he never returns calls for two or three days.

So, one day I walked around quite a bit,all the aisles in the grocery store.  Then overnight, I woke up screaming, grabbing my calves in pain. The next day was unending misery.  The next time I walked significantly — this time around my apartment, cleaning closets — same thing happened.  So it is not surprising that Sharan kindly made the same recommendation as my angel mother:  in much kinder words than this, Sharan told me to get over myself and get a mobility scooter.

Thus, I called Scooter Heaven (a pseudonym) to find out the scoop.  I had to have a “mobility interview,” with my new best friend and mobility counselor Tammy, who offered me not only mobility advice, but also existential bon mots for over an hour.  I told her I really want the device so that I can go to a museum for an afternoon, go shop at an outlet mall for a whole day, or maybe travel somewhere like my beloved New York City.

Here’s the interesting part:  For the insurance company to pay, I must require the scooter for in-home use. They don’t care about my needing it for outside.  So, the hour-long chat was a series of questions that try to establish that need (I also have to have an exam by my doctor, who I happen to be seeing next week anyway).  I really don’t need a scooter inside–don’t even want some huge device monstrosity inside my apartment.  But when Tammy started asking me about whether I cook…well, no, not anymore because it hurts too much (my mom sends over big pots of soup or stands in my kitchen and makes me something good).  Or on a rare week when I’m doing well, I cook stuff, but I pay for it the next day in pain.  It would be cool to have a solution for my cooking problem, and get to enjoy cooking again.  Not surprisingly, my new best friend Tammy had numerous other ideas about how this mobility contraption could help me in my house.

In fact, she explained in the upsell, the scooter probably isn’t what I am really after, since the three-wheeler has a relatively wide turning radius, whereas a mobility chair can turn 360 degrees in one spot–ideal for a galley kitchen like mine, for example.

I don’t want an enormous wheelchair!  Imagine the stares when I am shopping at Ross’s Dress For Less and I hop up out of the chair to try something on.  Immediately, women around me start clapping and singing, “Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus!  It’s a miracle.  She is a walking Lazarus.  She is healed, thank you Lord!”  Enough.  Enough.  Enough.

See, a mobility Chair makes a real disability promise, as in “This chick has BIG problems,” whereas the scooter whispers (comparatively), “Oops!  Little bitty problem here!  Back off, folks.  Nothing to look at here.  Go back to your business!”  I don’t want to be a device liar.

Furthermore, I have no intent of buying one of those dreadful minivans or SUVs needed to drive the chairs around, unless I physically need a chair, obviously.

NBF Tammy promises that a gadget connects to my Camry on a trailer hitch, telescoping out and forming a ramp, so that I can drive the dreaded chair up the ramp and into the trunk somehow to be stowed.  Somehow this seems like a very, very bad plan.  However, I haven’t seen it in action.  I would have to do so to buy it.

As of this morning it appears as though a mobility device of some kind truly is in my future, since NBF Tammy called from Scooter Heaven to announce that my insurance indeed pays 100% for the scooter or chair I select.  Hooray….I think.

I must go now and practice looking cool in the mirror, cool from the mobility scooter height (so that I don’t look like one of those people in the Walmart candid shots that are circulated around the internet).  My brother is buying me a megaphone so that I can shout, “Out of my way fools, here comes the princess!”

I missed two whole writing days.  They were sleepy days,but one of them was happy, seeing Scott.  Sometimes a day away from writing is worth it, right?

369 Days.