Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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A Better Day

Today was better than the past couple have been.

First of all, I got my meds under control. I am taking the right things in the right dose at the right time. That is huge. I still have to pay attention to the blood pressure meds though. Parkland only gave me a week’s worth and the earliest appointment I could get was in May which is, well, more than a week away. So getting that managed will be important.

I woke up in pajamas with no idea how I got into them. I was wearing a white t-shirt that I have been looking for, and I don’t know where I found it. I have no memory of putting myself to bed. But I was exhausted from being up all night Wednesday night with my daughter.

I made it to ATTA, my art group, today. I really like them. I am working on a mail art project where I need to make 40 little pieces of art the size of a postcard. Yup, 40. Which isn’t a lot but it’s a whole lot to do. I’m not sure how I feel about the individual pieces, or rather I’m sure I don’t care for several of them already, but a body of work is interesting. I think I’ll try it again with a series rather than individual works. The thing is to mail it off to a third party who will bind them into books with other people’s work, and then send me one. I can’t wait to see what other people do.

I haven’t made mail art in a long time, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I stopped at Burger King on the way home. I had missed breakfast so I was really hungry. I swear it was the best burger, which I know is because of my appetite.

When I got home, I napped on the sofa. Sitting up, not stretched out. I’m glad I slept though I had planned to work out this afternoon. I needed the extra sleep. I dreamed that I had inherited a horse, then woke up to find something on the TV about cowboys, so that made sense.

I have a recurring location in my dreams. It seems to be a house that I live in and a city. I travel places. I have neighbors. It’s like an alternate life. Charles de Lint, one of my favorite authors, has a story about a woman named Sophie who is the daughter of the moon, who has an alternate life at night when she dreams. If he didn’t, I would write that story based on my own experiences. Now if I tried, I’d be afraid I was plagiarizing his work. More closely than simply inspiration, I mean.

I am reading The Muse Is In by Jill Badonsky. I’ve known her online for several years now. Not that we’re close or anything. I guess I’ve followed her more than actually knowing her. I found the book at Half Price Books and grabbed it. It’s a little bit difficult to read, in the physical sense. Of course I am sure they are shrinking the fonts in published materials, which is no doubt my age, but this is also a creative font and the pages are colored. It’s a very fun book, but it may be a case where style has overtaken substance. Which is a shame, because what I’ve read so far is very good.

I finally heard from my friend K. She knows she’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for me, so that’s good. She is seeing the new boyfriend 3 times a week, which seems like a lot pretty quickly, but you know, good for her. She’s been wanting a partner for a long time now. I need to get back to her and say that I’d be happy to do things as a group if she wants to share the boyfriend’s company. Weekends are generally better for me to see her, and I imagine they spend at least one weekend night together.

It’s also my friend B’s 10 year cancer free anniversary. We’re going to go to a movie to celebrate, then get together with other friends later in the week. M and T have also had cancer now, I am the only one who hasn’t. M is still in treatment, and that’s interfering with all of us meeting up Sunday.

Saturday evening, I’m planning on going to a meeting called a College of Complexes. The topic is creativity and I can afford the “tuition” and maybe a pizza or a plate of food. I’ve never been and I don’t know anybody, so it depends on how confident I feel tomorrow evening.

I need a shower. I haven’t had one in like 5 days. It just seems so unnecessary, which I know isn’t true. I could wash my hair, shave my legs, clean off the sweat. All good things. I know it’s the depression end of my bipolar that makes this hard. I’m gonna try to do it before going to bed.

I also need to do laundry. I think I’ll start it tomorrow morning while everyone is asleep. I don’t know why I can’t seem to do laundry when people are around. I often do it while the roommates are out of the house. Something about being observed, I guess.

So that’s life the last few days. Art is good. Daughter is doing okay, still swollen in the knee but hurting less. Daily tasks need help. Mail art!

Enjoy


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Parkland Hospital

So meds are an issue in my life now.

I went to Metrocare for my psych meds. It took about 5 hours as a walk-in. I did see the nurse practitioner. He said that my anti-depressant was a bit high for bipolar and that if it was reduced, I might not need the mood stabilizer. Interesting. This cocktail has worked just fine for me so far so he refilled it as I was taking it, but I might ask about reducing meds.

Then I ran out of blood pressure meds. That’s a little different. I went to Parkland hospital because I know they have a program for people without insurance. I started in the business office. I filled out the paperwork. I didn’t have pay stubs but I had my W-2’s because I’d just done my taxes. I didn’t have a copy of my bank statement. The person who took my information said they’d ask for it if they need it.

I went to lunch at a little cafe serving Starbucks products. It was decent and filling but not fabulous. The coffee was good.

From there I went to the urgent care center. It was quite an experience. After I signed in, I had to wait for someone to see me. That’s to be expected. They triaged me and my blood pressure was a little high. Not surprising since I was out of blood pressure meds and I’d been drinking coffee. Then back to the waiting room.

Of course when they called me, they couldn’t figure out my name. My family name is Leonard, pronounced Lennerd, not Leo Nard. I assume it’s the Spanish pronunciation but I could be wrong. Then they couldn’t figure out Allison. I got Alicia, Alyssa, and finally just a snort and the letter A. It’s not a complicated name. It took me a minute to realize they meant me.

They walked me to another waiting area, they walked me to a lab, they walked me to a third waiting area, they walked me to a room, and they walked me back out to the lobby to wait for final lab results. They certainly don’t let you sit anywhere for very long, which probably makes the wait seem shorter. Finally I was given some prescriptions and discharged.

I was sent over to the Anderson building to the pharmacy. You get in line and check in. Then you wait for your name to appear on a screen, meaning the prescription’s been filled. You get back in line and receive a number. Then you wait for them to call your number. It was a lot of unnecessary line time but I’m sure someone thought it was reasonable. No charge for the meds though, that was good. Nice to get something for spending 7 hours of my day there. Pshew.

I got home and figured out that they’d only given me 7 days worth of meds. In the paperwork was a number for a referral for a primary care physician. I tried to call. It wasn’t exactly successful.

The first lady told me she’d connect me to “the clinic” and dropped me back into the queue. I told the second lady what happened, and she told me to call a different number and choose the make an appointment option. Ok. I called the other number and got the same phone tree and made the same choices, including the option to make an appointment. I sat on hold for 10 minutes and had to pee so I hung up. When I called back, the outgoing message stated the office was closed, which means I try again in the morning. I actually feel like the phone operators are either incompetent or lazy, since either they didn’t know how to help me or they didn’t want to. In either case, it looks like I won’t get an appointment until at least 6 weeks out, which means spending every Tuesday up there for the next month and a half.

People talk about folks who get services as if it’s a gift. In reality, it isn’t easy. It takes so much effort to get help. It took all day to walk through the system. It cost me parking and meals out. And I got the bare minimum of help so I will have to keep going through the process repeatedly until someone sees what’s going on. Hopefully once I have an appointment, they’ll just write me a script that will last until then.


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I Need to Get My Meds Regulated

I am not managing life right now. I mean, I am, but it feels harder than usual.

I had nothing to do today and I wanted to get out of the house. I ended up at Half Price Books working on some outgoing mail. I sent a letter to Fishspit and a couple of add-and-pass items out, and I sent altered cards to a couple of new contacts.

I also met a woman named Jana. She told me she was 79 but she sure didn’t look it. She was interested in astrology and past lives, she says she believes in God, and she is a Trump supporter. She was quite interesting. She suggested a group called College of Complexes, which she is finding to be overrun with liberals, so I would probably enjoy it a great deal. I’m planning to go next Saturday, since the topic is creativity.

I can’t wait for tomorrow to happen. Monday is so much easier for me. I hope to work out in the late morning then go to group in the afternoon. I have a plan. I have things to do. I hate weekends with nothing to do.

My friend K has a boyfriend. I’m glad for her, but she turns out to be one of those people who is too busy for her single friends when she has a boyfriend, and that makes me sad. I haven’t seen her in a month and I can’t seem to get her to text long enough to make plans. I’m a little frustrated. But hopefully the infatuation will level out and she’ll get back in touch. I don’t want to be just a filler friend for when there’s no boyfriend. I need to talk to her about this but like I said, I can’t seem to get her attention at the moment.

I tried to spend some time with my daughter today, but she had her boyfriend, and I don’t want to interrupt that. I mean, he’s a good guy and he wants to be a provider so her difficulties with work aren’t a deterrent. We’ll see what happens. He’s supposed to move in sometime in the next month, once he gets his car working. Because right now he can ride to work with a roommate, if he moves in with my daughter he needs to be able to get to work on his own.

So I am feeling very much my singleness. Even my roommates are a couple, and I am reminded a few times a day that I am an afterthought in the household. Not that they’re mean or anything, just that they are clearly a unit and I am, well, the extra person.

On top of this, I ran out of one of my meds the other day, and with the health insurance issue, I wasn’t able to fill the prescription. I have found another source, however I didn’t take it for a couple of days. I can really feel the difference it made. It will take a few days for things to stabilize again. In the meantime, I am a little emotional and melancholic, and it lends itself to feeling sorry for myself.

No, not exactly feeling sorry for myself, more like feeling like there is an instruction manual that other people got and I somehow didn’t. Like I’m trying to play a game where nobody will explain the rules. I feel puzzled and a little out of the loop. Which I understand to be very “on the spectrum” feelings. I have wondered if I have Asperger’s, though that is probably just speculation. I have spent enough time in psychiatrists’ offices in the last 5 years that I bet they’d’ve noticed it by now.

I can’t help thinking, but I’m afraid of disappearing up my own backside. It’s starting to be all hamsters and rabbit holes in my head. I need to distract myself. I think I’ll work on some mail art. I don’t have any particular inspiration but you never know what you’ll come up with.


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Franklin

I don’t know Franklin, I only know about him.

A friend of mine passed him on the street regularly. He was unhoused. She didn’t get to know him, but he was part of her community. For several days she didn’t see him, then she noticed his belongings scattered about the area where he camped. She knew something had happened but she didn’t know who to ask. Then she found the little shrine in his honor. His friends had bundled up his sleeping bag and set out flowers and candles, a small sign that said “Franklin”, the usual thing you see on the side of the road.

I want Franklin to be remembered so I painted a picture in his honor:

Parts of it I am very pleased with. Considering that I can’t draw.

I am slightly off my meds, and I am weepy. I ran out of the mood stabilizer. I have been crying over sentimental things, like a character dying in a movie. I generally feel pretty stable in my moods but I thought that was just me. I learned in my 20s that big emotion was bad for me so I worked at being understated in my expressions. I thought I was a calm person. I’m not really. I’m quite emotional without my meds.

I wonder, is that a problem? I made art because I felt sentimental about a homeless man. And it’s not bad art, all things considered. I want to make more art. Is taking the meds interfering with creativity? Is making art worth being emotionally raw? Maybe if I lived alone, but surely it would be a problem for my roommates, if I was all over the place.

In a few days I will be stabilized. The meds will have built up in my system and my mood will settle down. I’ll be back on my usual weekly schedule and things will be back to normal.

Funny phrase that, “back to normal”. Normal is a double-edged word in my life. Normal, like neurotypical, which I’m not. Also normal like typical, as in typical for me. Do the drugs make me normal? Is it worth it? I’m not 100% on that, but is that just my mood because I’m off my meds?

Does being on my meds cloud my thinking? Or is it that depression so often feels like truth to me? It seems like seeing things clearly but maybe I am just used to that particular bias. If you always look through tinted lenses, that appears normal. If you take them off, that might be reality, but putting them back on feels familiar and comfortable. Is it really better? I can’t tell.

I feel like I’m talking in circles which is surely a sign that I need the meds. Do I really need them, or do I just think I need them? I mean, joining a gym, looking for a full time job, those are normal things. Making art, not so normal. Yet making art makes my soul happy. Going to the gym is good for my body though. And I need to do it more often. I wonder if I would go, if I was off my meds. I mean, I’ve been off them for about a week and I haven’t gone. Coincidence? Maybe.

In other news, Momo just nosed the dog. He laid down next to me, which was also next to Jack. Charli getting in the middle of everything has driven Momo off. Such a shame, I was honored that he was dozing against my leg.

I have some add-and-pass pages to send out. I’m going to send them to each other. I mean, they have names and addresses on them so I’m going to send the item from envelope one to someone listed on item 2. Ah, yes, add-and-pass. A picture, or in this case a chapbook, where you put your name and address and maybe alter it in some way. Then you send it along to someone else to do the same. A mail art staple.

I haven’t left the house today, except to get the canvas out of the car and put the empty cat litter container in the trash. Today was lovely out. Hopefully tonight will be temperate. Last night was too cold, but today was warmer than yesterday, so maybe. I usually get out of the house to go to a group or a store. I’m thinking tomorrow would be a good day to work out and do some laundry. I want to make more mail art but that isn’t exactly something I can do in public, like at a coffee shop.

Trying not to think in circles. It’s only 9:30 so I’m not ready for bed yet, but I think soon it will be time. Charli the kitty has decided to nap balanced between the back of the sofa and my shoulder. She will be bothered when I get up. Right now she’s purring. And snoring. It’s almost like a sleeping child, that level of trust and relaxation.

Well, I’m off to look at mail art calls and see if there’s anything I can do tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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Metrocare

I went to Metrocare today. It was an interesting experience.

On February 8th, I got an email that as of January 18, I had 15 days of health insurance left. That was February 2nd. My insurance ended 6 days before I was notified.

In the meantime, I ran out of Metformin and Abilify. I can’t afford to pick up either one of them because full price is too much for me right now.

I’m not too upset about the Metformin. I was put on it because my A1c was elevated to 6.1. Now if you watch TV, you’ve seen the commercial where the man is happy his A1c is below 7. Last time I checked, 6.1 is below 7. So maybe 6.1 isn’t so bad. On top of that, I’ve been taking it for 9 months and my A1c hasn’t budged. Apparently it’s not working for me, and I was going to talk to the doctor about stopping it. I think I can live without it.

The Abilify, now, is a mood stabilizer and the past few days I’ve been out of it, I’ve been emotional. An online friend posted about a homeless person in her neighborhood who apparently passed away, and it made me cry. Then I responded a little heartlessly to her, because that is how I am with myself. I”m just all over the place. I continued to be weepy about the man for several hours. Now I am fine. I think the fancy word is labile. I feel like I need the Abilify for stability.

I tried to go to the pharmacy. Prices are a little high. To be honest, even with the insurance copay, I wouldn’t have been able to afford both of them. I needed to figure out an alternative. The only option I know is public health so I went to Metrocare.

I am not so bad off, all things considered. I am not so impaired. I am not suicidal or psychotic. I am, at the moment, pretty well controlled with my meds. Many of the people at Metrocare are not doing as well as I am. It’s said, but hopeful.

I waited to apply for assistance. The process was pretty quick. I don’t know how I’m going to prove income, but they saw me the first time without that information. I guess I’ll bring my W-2’s to prove my annual income. Except that I’m not making that money at the moment. Anyway, the application process was rapid.

Then I waited for hours to be seen. I’m sure that’s because I was a walk-in. I saw a nurse practitioner named Charles who I think was from Africa. I didn’t ask. He had an accent that wasn’t Australian or Caribbean so I think it was African. I could be wrong. He criticized my drugs a little. He seemed to think my does of Prozac was too high, and that if it was lower, I probably wouldn’t need the Abilify. I told him, the meds were working, I didn’t see a reason to change them. He wrote me the same prescrptions and said to come back in 6 weeks.

I went back out front, and talked to the pharmacy. They were able to verify that I was accepted into the program, and they filled the prescriptions for me for $16, which is about 1/3 of what I was paying with insurance. I had a moment of uncertainty when I went to pay it though. I wasn’t sure I had $16 in my bank account. I still don’t know how much I have, and I’m afraid to look.

Whole process only took 3 1/2 hours. All afternoon. I suppose it could have been worse.

Oh, my friend’s issue with the homeless man. His name is Franklin. She is quite distraught, even though she didn’t speak to him ever. I asked, what is she inspired to do? Other people are also in dire straits. My friend got quite upset with me. But for me, that is how I handle grief. I do something about it. My way isn’t better, and I do allow myself time to feel it, but I feel better if there’s a plan. So I wept for Franklin, and for my friend, and I will make some art about it later. I think, the fence where his community set up a memorial altar for him, with some flowers and candles. I have the image in my mind, I just need to put it together.

I filed my taxes this year. I still get a refund, but it’s only about 1/3 the amount I got last year. This administration is not good for me. Not just the tax money, but supposedly there was a tax cut. All I can say is, my refund was sure cut.


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Kick Me Again, I'm Starting to Like It

It’s like being pecked to death by ducks. One little thing going wrong after another.

I heard from Michael’s. They said one of the checks has already been cashed so they can’t replace it. At least it is the smaller check. So instead of around $800 I will get closer to $500. Not ideal but could be worse.

And I got a notice that my health insurance has been cancelled. I got the notice on the 7th. It said, that on January 18, I had 15 days of coverage left. That was February 2. So I didn’t know there was a problem until 5 days after it ended.

Pretty much, you can have insurance and pay for it through the company for up to a year of not working. If you work 4 consecutive months, it restarts the clock. I worked 5 weeks last year, so not even close to 4 months, let alone consecutive.

At least, if I don’t have an insurance payment, I should get paid the difference. I can use the money.

I did check out the health insurance marketplace through the ACA / Obamacare program. The lowest price they gave me was $435 per month. Right now, I don’t even earn that much, let alone have it to pay for insurance. That’s just the insurance, there would be copays on top of that. Meds and doctor visits out of pocket don’t cost that much.

I guess I will get to check out the local mental health services now. I hear Metrocare is kind of crap and I should go with Transicare. Either way I will have to go through North Texas Behavioral Health, which replaced MHMR.

I need to call my doctor and see if there’s a program through Southwestern for low income health care. I need the refills for my blood pressure meds as well as the psych meds. I might be able to get all my services through Southwestern. If not, I’ll go to Parkland.

At least I have a plan. I’ll be travelling for work until Wednesday, so Thursday I’ll start making calls. I’m gonna check out the websites tonight. Hopefully I can keep my meds on track.


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A Moment of Frustration

It’s financial.

Of course it’s financial.

It’s always financial.

Oh, the Michael’s paycheck saga. I worked for them in November, until I was called by FEMA. Now that was frustrating because FEMA asked me to commit for 60 days, then let me go after 19. I would have turned down the deployment and stayed with Michael’s if I’d known it was gonna go like that.

Anyway.

I left right before one payday, and was deployed for the next payday. Then I got back right before Christmas, so I didn’t get to the store until after the new year to pick up my checks. Unfortunately, they had been returned to corporate rather than mailing them to me. Bummer, but okay, I’ll deal with corporate.

Well that’s not so easy. The number I could find online was for customer service not the head office. So I called customer service, who connected me to HR. I left a message. Several days later I left another message. I finally reached someone who emailed me a form to fill out. The form.

The form was a .pdf but I was unable to unlock it for editing. Didn’t even show up as an option. I had to print it out. Then I had to access the payroll portal to get the check dates. I filled out the form, and realized I didn’t know how to return them. I didn’t have a fax number or a physical address, so I called Michael’s again.

I am surprised by how difficult a concept this is to explain over the phone. “Just fill out the form online and email it back to us.” Well I tried that, it doesn’t work. I hung up on one person who clearly wasn’t getting it. I finally got a person who suggested taking a picture of the form with my phone and emailing that back. Well. Should’ve thought of that myself. Good idea. So that’s what I did.

Then I got an email saying I needed to fill out a different form that included the check number and the amount. I had to email them to request a copy of the form. Then I had to go back to the payroll portal to get the additional check information. I printed out the forms and completed them. This time, there was a list of 5 fax numbers on the form with instructions to send the form to them. I don’t own a fax.

Fortunately, the unemployment office has a free fax machine, so I went down there and faxed. I faxed to all the numbers because I was gonna cover my bases. Nobody at unemployment even asked what I was doing.

Today I got an email asking me to confirm my mailing address. I sure hope that means the checks will be cut soon and forwarded to me. I mean, it’s been since November and I need the money.

That brings me to my second source of frustration. I had to use the company card while I was deployed because I didn’t have any money in the bank. Most of my expenses were covered but a few were not. That’s okay, and it’s normal. So I have to pay a few things out of pocket. Not a problem if I’m working, but I haven’t received a check since Christmas and I simply am out of money. I hope the Michael’s check arrives soon.

On top of that, my car is due for a sticker this month. I need to get an inspection and pay for registration, another $150 or thereabouts total. Where is that check?

Now I will be working 4 days this week. I have a training. But I will lose about 1/3 of my check to taxes. Then another $200 for health insurance. Then another $200 for back health insurance, since I’ve been covered for the past year without making a payment, so I owe that money. Really I won’t have any cash in my pocket from this expedition. But I will have a coach and evaluator certification, which hopefully will make me more appealing to have in the field. Maybe.

I still haven’t heard from the other cadre about making the change to a different team. In November they told me it would be 2 months. With the holidays I expected it to take longer. I did email them, asking them if they needed more information, just to see if someone would get back to me. So far, nothing.

Speaking of nothing, I haven’t heard from the 911 dispatcher job I applied for either. I took the test. I was the second person done. I guess I wasn’t as good as I thought. Not even a “thank you for applying, we’ve decided to go another route”. In fact, I don’t even know what my test score is.

In other news, I finally found my keys which I put in a “safe place” before I was deployed. I’ve been without a house key since Christmas. They were in a bag along with my correspondence supplies and unanswered letters. I have been working on replying to those letters and I went to one of my out-of-the-house workspaces so I had room to empty the bag and spread out. Lo and behold, there in the bottom of the bag were my keys.

And I have entered the art exhibition. Two pieces. I’ve never entered a juried show before so I don’t know if my work is good enough. I hope it is. I won’t know for like a month if I’m accepted.

In the meantime, I continue looking for work. Sooner or later something will give and I’ll be back among the gainfully employed.