Archive | My So-Called Life


Borrelia burgdorferi

All these years, I assumed I’d sidestepped the worst of it. It’s been 25 years since I first contracted Lyme disease, and I told myself I was one of the lucky ones. But maybe not so much.

Years ago, I was at a trade conference for insurance fraud and a bunch of claims examiners were laughing about how they deny coverage for chronic Lyme. (Assholes.) I mentioned that I’d had it, and was never treated. They got quiet; one of them finally said, “That’s not good. You’re probably going to have problems with your heart later.”

Not me, I thought.

Well, now I’m very short of breath, all the time. Even sitting down. The cardiologist who tested me said my heart was “fine.” I feel like I’m going crazy, that no one understands that I feel like an 85-year-old. “You need to lose weight,” my primary care doctor says. “Yes, I do, but that’s not the problem,” I tell him. “I can hardly walk across the room. This can’t be normal.”

I’ve turned into a hermit, because it’s so exhausting to go anywhere.

I finally talked to someone who’d also had untreated Lyme, and she said, “Oh yeah, that sounds just like me. It’s Lyme carditis. I was so bad, I had to get around on a scooter. You need to get this test.” (It’s $400, and naturally insurance doesn’t cover it.)

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know how much I hate taking antibiotics. The thought of IV antibiotics sounds like a nightmare. But I’m going to see what I can do to get diagnosed, and possibly feel normal again.

Today, I am a crone.


It’s official, I’m 62 today. If I could afford to, I could apply for Social Security in a month. Now I have wisdom, I guess.

When I divorced, I began a new birthday tradition. Since I no longer had a husband to buy me a birthday present, I would buy myself a present instead. It didn’t have to be big or expensive, just an indulgence. An impulse I would not normally indulge. (Because secretly, I always assume everyone will forget my birthday.)

This year, one of my friends talked about how she was using Tibetan singing bowls as a meditation tool. “What do you have to do?” I asked. (Because I’m really bad at meditation.)

That was the good thing, she said. You didn’t have to think about anything, all you did was strike the musical note and sort of attune yourself.

Well, I’m a musical sort, I can do that, I told myself. So I tracked a set down on eBay, to be shipped from Katmandu.

And now I’m using them to meditate. I’m not sure they’re working, but I like listening to them. Happy birthday to me.

Traffic report

How to Actually "Use Your Network" to Get Through a Job Search (Even the Tough Parts)

So it seems like my traffic, which has not been all that fantastic for several years now, is really hitting the floor — in a heated election season, which disturbs me.

Thoughts? Feedback?

Speaking of pneumonia

pneumonia 12

I was laid off in the wake of the 9/11 recession, and I was lucky to get any job at all, even if it was a job with no benefits or health insurance. I came down with the flu, but I kept working. I had to.

I was making nowhere near the kind of money I did before I was laid off, and was living in a tiny little efficiency apartment in a former historic tavern and whorehouse. It was all I could afford, and I couldn’t miss much time from work if I was going to pay the rent.

But I wasn’t getting better. I was so short of breath, even talking on the phone exhausted me. I thought it was bronchitis, until I started getting chills and a high fever.

And then I woke up one morning with this weird noise in my chest that sounded like a large, crinkling ball of cellophane. “I wonder if these are rales?” I thought. I dragged myself to the computer: “Crackles are caused by the “popping open” of small airways and alveoli collapsed by fluid, exudate, or lack of aeration during expiration. The word “rales” derives from the French word rĂ¢le meaning “rattle”.”

Basically, all I did was sleep and wake up with the chills. I’d take some ibuprofen, go back to sleep and wake up drenched in sweat. Again. My bedroom, which was barely bigger than the double bed, began to take on the rank swell of a high school gym.

This went on for about two weeks until I finally dragged myself to the doctor. I laid it out: Look, I have no insurance, I’m pretty sure I have pneumonia, and you’re going to give me a sample Z-pack. He tried to be professional (“I can’t diagnose you without an x-ray”) but he saw how sick and desperate I was; he might have been just a teensy bit afraid of the look in my eyes. So he went into his sample closet and came back with a Z-pack. I went home, took a capsule, and went back to bed. About three or four days later, the fever was gone but I was still very weak.

It took a good two months from start to finish before I could breath without feeling exhausted. It’s the reason why I’m so religious now about flu shots.

I don’t know how many of you were among the readers who paid my bills and bought my groceries that month, but I am forever grateful.

R.I.P. Jon Polito

Jon Polito

It wasn’t until after he died Friday that I realized my old friend John (I never could get used to thinking of him as “Jon”) was so freakin’ famous. I mean, obviously, I knew he was a working actor — I just didn’t realize how many people knew who he was. I guess “Miller’s Crossing” and “The Big Lebowski” put him over the top.

When I met him, he was a theater major at Villanova, and he wrote and directed an original rock musical at the boys’ high school down the street. I auditioned and made it. I eventually got what I suppose was the female lead (it was an ensemble show) because, as he put, “we originally wanted someone more delicate and feminine in the part, but her voice wasn’t loud enough.”

Well, we all bonded. I’m still friends with a lot of people from that show, and we’re all in shock this week.

See you on the other side, old pal.

Sick bay update

Vietnamese cuisine
Yeah, turns out it really was food poisoning. Just found out yesterday everyone I went out to dinner with Sunday night was sick all week — except one person. I should have ordered the same thing, right?

Sick bay


I don’t know if I have a stomach flu or food poisoning, or what, but man, I went right back to bed today and slept until noon.

Still running a fever. Ugh. Why can’t I win the Powerball and I won’t have to worry about working anymore?

The kind of day I’ve had

PFD Engine 266

Today is the one day I get off every week, and I got to spend half of it cleaning out my refrigerator and wiping it down. (Turns out there wasn’t a dead mouse in the motor; it just smelled like that. The appliance repairman said the freezer door had probably been open a little bit, which is enough to rot food. The smell permeated everything.)

After several hours, I was finally done. I grabbed a quick dinner at a local grille and went to the supermarket to replace all the smelly, stinky food I’d just gotten rid of.

I was pushing a cart down the aisle when my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I picked up anyway. It was my new bank, calling to ask if I’d just tried to buy two airline tickets to China. Uh, no.

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner China Southern Airlines B-2726 Beijing Capital Airport ZBAA PEK

The guy tells me they’re about to cut off my debit card. “I’m standing here in the supermarket buying food. I have nothing in my refrigerator,” I said. “Can’t I just pay for this?”

No, he tells me. But he can authorize one last ATM withdrawal.

So I put all the food back, get in my car and go to the convenience store. (The bank doesn’t have an ATM.) There’s a long line at the store ATM, but I finally get to the machine and the fraud rep authorizes my withdrawal.

I take a side street home, and pull over to let a fire engine pass. I pull out again and get trapped between two fire engines. (Ironically, they were called to the local branch of the new bank.)

At least I got a dozen eggs and bacon for breakfast tomorrow.

More climate change

Mouse Trap

Why are there mice back in my apartment — in AUGUST? Because they couldn’t stand the heat?

Why did none of these little assholes take the bait on the traps I put out last night?

And why did one of them crawl inside the motor of my refrigerator, where its rotting carcass has been spewing its odor throughout my workspace for more than a week?

It is the single worst stink I have ever smelled. My sinuses hurt.

One of those weeks

Traffic light

Spilled a pot of boiling water on my hand the other night, got a red-light camera ticket today for $100, and my oldest friend’s cancer may be back.

Maybe I should just stay in bed for a couple of weeks.

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