Ponder this:

Monday, September 26, 2011

How Chantix worked for me

A few of you who left comments on the "Moderation..." post wanted to know how the Chantix worked for me. 
It worked as it was meant to: I haven't smoked since August 12. Six weeks, give or take. 
I had just about every one of the side effects:
...suicidal thoughts or actions; new or worsening depression, anxiety, or panic attacks; agitation; restlessness; angry or violent behavior; acting dangerously; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood or talking); abnormal thoughts or sensations; hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist); feeling that people are against you; feeling confused; or any other sudden or unusual changes in behavior, thinking, or mood. 
One of my friends knew I'd stopped taking it when I [mostly] stopped being mean. 
Feelings of confusion are a common feature of my personality so I'm not sure I can blame Chantix for those. 
The auditory hallucinations were barely noticeable and only lasted for a few days: they were, as my doctor predicted, like hearing the conversation of many voices from an adjacent room. That was interesting. I kept trying to hear what the nonexistent people were talking about, but never could make it out.
I stopped taking it when the occasional nausea became more regular. By then I was forgetting to take it anyway.

The loss of interest in food did not last, and the inability to resist the famously unhealthy White Food has dropped into place. Now I scurry away from the sight of blue and white Entenmann's boxes the way, six years ago, I began to avoid the red and white of Budweiser.

Just as  Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "It's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another." 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I used to see this guy Bob in the roomsBig guy, balding young. When he moved, he shambled, hunched over by the weight of the chip on his shoulder. He was a wrinkly, puffy mess, pouty about everything, always Poor Me coming out of his mouth. He hated his job, he hated his job, then he got fired and he was mad about that. When he shared, he'd pick one person to talk to, look down while he spoke and then up to check with his audience of one for . . . whatever he was checking for. Acknowledgment: let's call it that. 
Like so many of us in those rooms, he was a little kid in a grown-up's body.  
I haven't seen Bob in a long time. 
I haven't been going to meetings.

A few days ago the mailman left a notice for me that I had a piece of mail that I needed to sign for. It would be held at a post office not my own. "Odd," I thought. The floods, though, have caused the mail, as well as many other things, to be off kilter. The next day I asked the mail carrier who delivers to the office why my mail might be at a different post office. She said that if there had been a substitute delivering mail on my route, he might have used the wrong call slip . . . on of his "home" call slips instead of filling out a blank one for my village. 
"Call first," she said, "before you make an extra trip." 
Of course I did not call first, but started my Saturday morning rounds with my home post office. The lobby, where the mailboxes are, was open, but the clerk's area was locked up tight. Through the glass door I saw that the walls are half gone . . . the studs are drying out before the sheetrock can be replaced.
Ah. No mistake then. I really did have to go to the other post office to retrieve my mystery mail item. Only a pleasant ten minute drive, past barns and pastures of cows, and over the creek that has come to resemble the mighty Mississippi in its new breadth and milk chocolate color. 
I parked, went inside, signed the orange slip and handed it over to the clerk. While she flipped through a carton of packages, I picked up a small brass bell on the counter and looked inside it. The original clapper was gone, replaced by a paper clip. I waggled the bell and it tinkled faintly.
"How cute," I said. "Is it effective?"
"Oh yes," said the clerk. "I can hear it every time."
"Ears like a dog," I said. We smiled, I took my envelope and I turned to leave.

I pushed on the door; it gave way suddenly. A tall man was pulling the door open to come inside. We met in the doorway. "Oh! I'm sorry," he said, stepping back to let me pass while he held the door. 
"Perfectly all right," I said. We smiled. "Thank you." 
"Have a good day," he said. 
"You too!" I told him. I headed for my car.
The car next to me began to back up. Then, a crackle-whump sound, like a cardboard box being run over.
"Oooo, that doesn't sound good," I said to myself. The car pulled forward again. I looked over my right shoulder to see what was going on. The driver and passenger, all covered with consternation, hurried out of their vehicle and went to look at the rear of a small green car parked behind them. The man who had held the door for me appeared. All three of them looked long and intently at the bumper of the car, which seemed undamaged, unmarked. Each of them ran their hands over it. Nodding and shaking of heads all round, readiness to accept responsibility, to forgive injury.

I backed up slowly and minimally.  As I moved the gear shift from "reverse" to "drive," I heard the man say, in a comforting tone, "Noooooooo....." and then, "You have a nice day now." As I prepared to turn out onto the road, all three were getting into their cars. I looked closely at the man getting into the green car.
It was Bob. 
A Bob all grown up, wearing neat clothing, wearing a smile. 
Wearing his sobriety.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Now this: This was a nightmare.

I'm at work, temporarily answering phones while the regular receptionist is out for an afternoon.
A man calls and says he wants to talk to the Chancellor or he'll send in a bomb.
I can't transfer the call because I don't know the Chancellor's extension.
The Chancellor himself calls me on an internal line, tells me, "If the man calls again, send him to me at extension 247."
"247 . . . 247 . . . 247 . . ." I mutter to myself nervously while I wait for the man to phone again. When he does, I try to transfer the call to extension 237, which does not exist. Now I have to deal with embarrassment as well as a real threat of true violence.
The security doorbell buzzes. I get up from the desk, go down the stairs, and open the door. A man puts into my arms a full-grown German Shepherd, "Here's Bob. He's loaded." The man leaves quickly, and horrified, I carry the beautiful black and silver dog back up the six stairs to the lobby, noting that he feels as if he has valises under his skin. In fact, he has explosives sewn under his skin; he is armed as a living bomb. I'm in fear for all our lives, not least the beautiful dog's. I'm on the floor, trying not to weep, trying to comfort the nervous dog, who in turn is trying to comfort me, when the Chancellor comes into the lobby and sits down at the receptionist's desk to manage the situation. With kind urgency, he dismisses me, and as I push open the heavy steel door to leave, a young and handsome dark-haired man grasps the edge of the door. 
"Who are you!" I shriek.
He's frantic. "I'm Bob's dog!" he shouts. "I mean . . . Bob is my dog!" The Chancellor comes to the top of the stairs and tells me, "Let him in."
I leave the building and wander through the campus with tears rolling down my face, expecting at any moment to hear a loud explosion. 
Sirens in the distance...

And, thank God, then I woke up.
If this doesn't stop soon, I might have to stop sleeping.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

General update

I just turned up the thermostat for the first time since I-don't-want-to-remember. The temperature outdoors (says the weather website) is forty degrees. I don't know what it was inside. It's uncomfortable, I'm up at 4am on a Saturday and I deserve to feel not scrunched up around the shoulders and neck trying to keep warm. 

I got up about 3, I think. Or, really, 2:30ish. I woke up from another long and vivid novelette of a dream, made a trip to the Small Room, and got back in bed. Max started to wiggle around, settle, wiggle. I got up, carried him downstairs and delivered him outdoors. He is such a small dog . . . his innards must be crowded by his bladder, which has about a gallon capacity. I waited at the door for his gauge to drop to "empty." It takes a long, long time. Then he refilled at the water dish: a long slurpslurpslurpslurpslurpslurp. At least five minutes. MiMau interrupted him, he stood back. She drinks for a long time too; I think she's part camel. Finally, she stepped back and he resumed. A second trip out to make sure his bladder was completely void. 
We went back upstairs to bed.

Angus hadn't moved: Ah, good.
Angus spent a day at the clinic last week, having teeth removed/cleaned, having his anal glands and his ear canals deep cleaned. His mouth has caused him no trouble in the aftermath, his ear canals are no longer itchy and painful . . . but the butt. Oh . . . my. My life for the last two days has been taken over by my black dog's butt and its discomfort and recovery. Twice a day I am to administer 1.5cc of liquid antibiotic. Mm-hm. We aren't doing very well with that, but I'm hoping that whatever remains on Angus' tongue, after he flings it hither, thither and yon, will do some good.
This is my life.
Last evening Angus was suffering quite some anxiety about issues back there. I put him in the bathtub with the handheld shower and washed him off with Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Immediate relief. We went to bed. He settled down, sighed, and we all went to sleep. So when I got back to bed with empty Max, and Angus still seemed comfortable, I thought, "Great, back to sleep until the light of the Saturday sun shines on my face!"

Two minutes later, Angus began to fidget. He moved under the covers with me. He moved out from under the covers. He wiggled and squirmed. He settled down at my command. Then the whole routine started up again. I sighed. I flipped the covers back, put on my robe, picked him up and tucked him under my arm and carried him downstairs, delivered him to the door. He went out.
I went to the dog medication corner of the kitchen counter and quartered one of Max's Tramadol tablets. While I was at it, I fixed some food, as Tramadol is supposed to be given with food.
Angus came back in, walked to a scatter rug and resumed his interest in his rear end. I picked him up and carried him to the couch, next to which I had, in his absence, surreptitiously placed the quarter tablet of Tramadol (he's a suspicious and observant little dog), and where I cornered him, pried his jaws open and shoved the medication down his throat. Honestly, you would think that I had given him poison. He spit and shook his head and thrust his tongue out and spit some more. And out came the Tramadol. I hadn't lost patience, exactly, but I was empty of my usual empathy and full of determination. I picked up the wet quarter tablet, pried open his jaws again, and while I leaned my body against his, pressing him into the corner of the couch, calmly pushed the pill halfway down his esophagus. I held his mouth closed with one hand, then the other when he wiggled his muzzle out of the first, and rubbed,  with some vigor, every part of his head and throat. He performed the whole Yuck!  Yuck! Yuck! dog and pony show again, but the medication did not reappear.
You know . . . I have swallowed Tramadol myself. It does not taste that bad.

While I was on a roll, I hid his thyroid medication in a half inch ball of raw hamburger and placed it before him on a small dish of microwaved-for-thirty-seconds-and-cooled kibble/water/hamburger. He ate the ball of hamburger, so the morning dose of thyroid med is inside him. I have a reprieve on that until this afternoon. 
But we still have the morning dose of the liquid antibiotic.

He's snoozing now (thank you, Tramadol!), over there between his little dish of uneaten food and the far arm of the couch. It might be time to load up the plastic syringe with antibiotic. I won't have a better opportunity for hours.

Poodle Mom Shirt
A note to interested entrepreneurs: There might be a real market out there for this design in straitjackets.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hell hath no fury like the dreams of a woman taking Chantix

Carolynn's comment about violent dreams reminded me of a dream I had a few weeks ago. 
Or so. 
It doesn't matter when, really, although I do think it preceded the Tropical Storm Irene inundation...

...and the Labor Day inundation.

I think of the dream . . . and it felt like a dream, not a nightmare, despite the way it rolled out of my id . . . in relation to the storms only because I wonder . . . was I reacting somehow to the unsteadiness in the atmosphere? Or was it just one of the famous Vividly Violent Chantix Dreams? I can hardly believe that most dreams only last three to five seconds (something I read recently) because this one seemed to go on for weeks. 


There were two of us in the dream: a man, familiar to dreaming me and unknown to my waking self, and me. He and I were close. Not lovers, not friends, but somewhere on the edge between the two. Throughout the dream, over and over again, I would begin to trust him and his good will . . . and then he would do something or make a remark that would cut me, humiliate me, leave me not knowing what to say, how to react. 
At last, my hurt feelings turned to cold rage. He had one more chance. I knew he'd blow it and he did. He made yet another barbed joke at my expense.
I turned and drove a long two-tined barbecue fork into his throat even as he still smirked at me. I could feel the tines' sharp points passing through resisting tissues. He fell backward onto the floor and lay staring at me in shock, struggling only feebly. I was strong; I would not let him free. 
I woke up, leaving my dream self holding him pinned to the floor by his neck.

BBQ fork by ~princess-distracto 

Aren't you glad you don't live in my head?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last night's dream

I dreamt that I was a cat, the youngest in a colony of cats who all looked very much like me.
We were all pretty cats: black and gray tabby with white bib and paws and lips. 
It seems as if the dream went on and on. There was lots of conversation among us, along the lines of: We are cats and may do as we please, whenever and wherever we please.
In the final scene of this dream, we were all gathered in a diner, all sitting like humans in booths.
It was a meeting of some type, and our patriarch said: "We are cats. We have no kings. Except humans, but that goes without saying, since humans rule everything...."
He went on with his speech, or announcement, but I was shocked.
It had never occurred to me that We the Cats had any superiors, least of all . . . humans.

In a scrap tacked onto this dream, there were a few Helpful Household Hints.
One of them was to use a curling iron to iron ribbons.

I don't know where my brain gets this stuff.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moi, après le déluge

I drove through the village this afternoon......thought maybe, since the road was open again, some places might be open for business. I thought I'd go and see if the Community Apothecary was open. I left a prescription there Saturday morning to pick up on Monday.

I had no conception, despite the pictures and the videos, of the immense reach of the flood. The little league fields at the outskirts of the village . . . the markings and fences are there. The creekside pavilion next to them is a hundred feet from where it was. The pavilion's picnic tables are upside down, way up next to the road....washed upward fifty feet, and hundreds of feet south of where they started. 
The 300-year-old stone house is there, and solid, its front yard rail fence plastered with dusty matted waterlogged brush and weeds. 
My drugstore with the windows and greeting card racks empty, my hairdresser's machinery and pedicure chairs piled up in the parking lot, the library with the filth matted against the caved-in latticework porch skirting . . . all dusted with dry mud . . . the antique camelback loveseat, from one of the little reading nooks, outdoors and all brown-murky-smeared, tipped on its back.
No way to turn around until I got to Bridge Street, now bridgeless and closed after the first block. The macadam that, in June, I waited in line for and detoured around, smelling then its fresh rich intoxicating oil and tar scent. I watched it being rolled and pressed beautifully smooth. It's all peeled up and washed far away. I turned and came up the back street with the big pretty houses. Muddy, filthy, soaked, formerly (five days ago) elegant furniture, and piles of lumber and torn-out hunks of ruined pink fiberglass insulation out in the yards. 
Porta-potties here and there.
People in rubber boots and rubber gloves and filthy legs standing looking at the mess, carrying buckets up and down the street.

The whole area stinks. 
I don't know what the stink is. It isn't sewage stink, although that's part of it. The closest I can come to a description is: rot and silty creekbottom mud.
Beyond heartbreaking; stomach-turning.
A fire policeman whose left arm must have been so tired, pointing me to the detour up over one of the hill roads. Oddly, interestingly, the old, old plank bridge is intact, although I could see where the creek had surged right over it.

I have seen this stuff on the news, in Arkansas or Louisiana or someplace and I have thought, "Oh those poor people..." but this! These are places I know by smell and sound, and it's all a wreck from one end to another. Must I see every disaster first hand to feel true sympathy for others who've had these experiences? 
If this is this horrible, what must it be like in places where it's been wearing down for tens, for hundreds of years?

I drove down the driveway and breathed deep breaths of spicy wet leaf scent. The house had had little bits of leaves stuck to it through Monday, but they've dropped off and blown away now. I drove into the barn and got out of the car, turned and stood a minute ignoring the dogs' hysterical hello barks from the front doors. 
I looked at my nice clean dry house with a nice clean dry mattress to go to sleep on tonight, and I thanked God most heartily.