Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Diaspora in Reverse: Still Alive, But Barely

[Caution:  There be whining ahead.  But, also, a little humor.  After the venting storm - a rainbow.]

I haven't blogged recently, because (pick one, or several):

1.  I haven't had much to say - or, at least, I haven't had much to say that I would want to share with the blogosphere.

2.  I have been trying to focus on regaining my equilibrium at work.

3.  Equilibrium - at work, or anywhere else - is hard to come by, given inner ear problems that will not go away. 

They started when we had to pack up the apartment in a ridiculous hurry, simultaneously with rushing construction forward on the house so that we would have a place to live after the move-out date that had been imposed upon us.  [Construction dust] + [no sleep] + [consumption of a steady diet of prepackaged processed food, because there was no time to cook] = [not a good situation for someone with my kind of allergy issues.]  And so began my fun six-week bout with vertigo and related issues.  The FIRST round of antibiotics and steroids seemed to do the trick, but with the benefit of hindsight I don't think I got better so much as I got distracted.  When I stopped to take a breath - that breath was kinda, sorta ridiculously painful.  Asthma attacks tend to sneak up on me, I guess because I developed it as an adult and never learned to recognize the signs.  (There should be a book.  Wait, you say that there's several?  Yeah, okay, I'll put "read up on asthma" on my to-do list.  Next.)  The vertigo returned with a vengeance, accompanied by horrible sinus pressure.  Spouse insisted that I make another visit to my doc.  More steroids, and a ridiculously long course of antibiotics.  And ZERO relief.  Quite the contrary:  the antibiotics killed off all of the helpful bacteria that keep the yeast in your gut at bay.  There are a lot of theories out there that eczema, asthma, hives and other atopic allergic responses are related to yeast in the digestive tract.  And (TMI ALERT) I was born a yeast carrier (lovely, huh?  I should add that to my resume).  So my "cure" resulted in me having worse symptoms than before.  And then the snowball effect began:  fluid in my ears and swelling in my sinuses became so pronounced that I started grinding my teeth at night.  (And, of course, my night guard was buried in a bottom box - MURPHY'S LAW, PEOPLE!  When I finally found it, my response was similar to that of the German dudes in Indiana Jones when they find the Ark of the Covenant.  Except, when I opened the case to my mouthpiece, my face did not immediately melt off.  Which I count as a "win.")  Tooth grinding led to referred pain in my neck.  Stiff neck, tooth pain, swollen sinuses and nausea kept me from sleeping well at night.  Lack of sleep compromises my already pretty pathetic immune system.  Et cetera.

The result:  I'm a walking zombie.  My head hurts all of the time.  (It doesn't help that they are trenching 7th Street where it runs in front of my building and run jackhammers 24/7.)  And there's really no end to my suffering in sight, because the house is one giant allergy trigger:  chemicals in the new floors, carpet and paint, grout, wood and other construction dust everywhere, and if that wasn't enough dust, there's the dust that we unearth every time we open a box (because, Heaven knows, the packing ladies didn't take time to dust stuff before they wrapped it in tissue paper to hibernate for ten months).  I'm just gonna come out and say it:  I'm allergic to my house.  The plan was to stay in the apartment while we got the bulk of the unpacking done, so that I could at least sleep someplace that was free of chemicals, and let the chemicals dissipate in the process.  But others had different ideas, and so I was thrust into the belly of the beast.

I feel guilty whining, because I'm not the only one affected:  Little Kid's eczema has been off the chain, and Dad and Big Kid have been suffering, too.  The only ones who seem happy about our situation is the pets, who were EIGHT SHADES OF STRESSED BY THE MOVE.  The dogs and youngest cat were particularly upset when Mom and Dad started moving stuff out from under them, and keeping odd hours, and leaving them alone all of the time.  Oh, and, also, shouting.  A bunch.  Crying may have also been involved.  It occurs to me that Ruby, Ace and Max were unfamiliar with the concept of moving when we packed up the house last fall, so they had no cause to be particularly concerned.  Also, I would say that our frame of mind was a whole lot healthier then:  we had fought a couple of rounds with the insurance company, but we (naively) thought that that was the worst of it, and that we would soon be back in our house.  In fact, I distinctly remember worrying out loud that we were going to all of the trouble of packing our stuff only to have to move back as soon as we had unpacked.  HA!  I was younger then, and much less worldly-wise.  (I also had fewer wrinkles and gray hairs.)

Anyway, move #2 did not go so smoothly on the pet side of things, but as soon as we got home it was like they took a collective sigh of relief.  I expected continued incontinence issues:  love notes sprayed on the sides of boxes and piles of poo on the square inches of rug that were exposed to let us know that "WE ARE SO FLIPPIN' TIRED OF THIS."  (You and me both, buddies, but it's considered less socially acceptable if I express my irritation via pee.)  I expected mass shredding, and also shedding.  I had the vinegar spray, a white towel, one of those pet-hair-picker-upper-mitts and a trash bag continually ready.  Nope, nothing.  Even in those first few weeks, when things were crazy-claustrophobic and there was precious little real estate for them to sleep, they were cooperative, and - dare I say it? - content.  Because we were HOME.  It smelled different, and there were boxes everywhere, but it was home, and home was good.

Why are they able to focus on that, when I can't?  Well, I'm sentient, and I think about stuff to the point of overthinking.  Also:  I HAVE WEIRD ALLERGIES, AND THEY DON'T.  Except little Gabby.  Poor, seven-pound-when-she's-soaking-wet Gabby, who might as well be my actual biological child, because once upon a time the vet gave her an innocent little distemper shot, AND SHE STARTED VOMITING BLOOD, AND THEY HAD TO PUT HER IN A HYPERBARIC CHAMBER JUST LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON'S.  (No, Conrad Murray is not our veterinarian.)  And she lived in said hyperbaric chamber for a week.  That was when we discovered that, just like her adoptive momma, Gabby reacts in odd and unexpected ways to everyday stimuli.  So the dust and stuff cause her to itch, too.  And the itching makes her lick - so much so that her entire body is a matted mess.  Here's where I have to laugh a little bit:  two weeks into the "move-back-in," I stop to actually pet my sweet girl, and - um? - WHAT'S UP WITH HER FUR?  THESE FEEL LIKE - DREADS.  SHORT, KITTY DREADS.  AND THEY ARE ALL. OVERHERBODY

Her new name is "Rasta Tabby." 

What isn't funny:  because of her issues with vaccines, it's a risk to put her under anesthesia or otherwise medicate her - and, if you have not met Gabby, let me tell you that the amount of combing that it would take to overcome her mats (if they can be combed out at all) can only be accomplished if she's drugged.  Ditto shampooing her, or shaving her.  This leaves us with only one available course of action:  I have to cut the suckers out.  Three dreads at a time.  While she's drinking water out of the sink.  Gabby is big on drinking fresh water from the faucet, and, more than that, Gabby is big on knowing that she has you at her beck and call.  Because Gabby is a control freak.  So, when you turn the water on for her, she is deliriously happy.  So much so that she solicits pets.  And, while I am petting her (which is kind of weird and uncomfortable for me; is this what it would feel like to give Bob Marley a scalp massage?), I snip - [snip].  Snip.  SNIP.  By the third snip, she is on to me, and starts snapping at the scissors.  So I wait until my next opportunity.  Meanwhile, she is starting to look crazy-wonky.  Even wonkier than when she just had the dreads.  But, what can you do? 

So that's where we are.  Mom's cranky, and Gabby's half-bald.  Film at eleven.

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