Monday, April 14, 2014

DC Beltway Bingo

The last few weeks have been mostly mundane, which is why there's been no updates. Plus I've been thinking about a few changes/upgrades that need to happen for NLQ. One is putting up a recovery section, with articles on everything from explanations of different traumas and triggers, to helpful suggestions, to stories of how our readers healed from spiritual abuse. I started that one last week.

Today was the first of the new round of testing and vocal cord therapy at Johns Hopkins clinics in Baltimore. I finally do have a diagnosis on the vocal cords. Yes, I have Vocal Cord Movement Syndrome, which I'll be referring to as VCMS from now on. I'm working with a vocal coach to learn different breathing techniques to keep my cords open when an allergen triggers them shut and makes my asthma attack much worse.

The therapy went well. I learned a great deal and have a plan. I have to give notice to the clinic because the tests they ran for allergens a few months ago shows I react badly to molds. The facility is lousy with mold and different new things I'm allergic too, like horses, goats and the good Lord only knows what. Tomorrow I quit.

I cannot go back to working for the floral sales company even as they told me I could come back any time because I'm not supposed to talk that much because of the strain on the vocal cords and the havoc it plays with my oxygen levels and breathing.

Work options are so limited I think I might apply for disability. Basically what I've been told I can safely do for my asthma and VCMS as work is work online from home without constantly using the telephone. I've had a few contacts with content provision firms, home contractor firms for coding, link-checking, and various other things and I might do one of those. In the meantime I will be continuing on with NLQ.

Only really horrible part of the day this time is the drive. Johns Hopkins is a 2 hour and 15 minute drive in no traffic, but.... if there's traffic it's going to take at least a good 3 hours. Part of which is on the Washington DC outer Beltway and on I-95 up into Baltimore. ALL of those things on my Beltway Bingo picture I saw at least once, usually multiple times before I got home again. You must be ultra alert to all the snafus on the drive.

Compounding this is my spring/summer frustration driving in the Greater DC area, families coming to visit DC pulling travel trailers behind their cars. Okay, so I know they bring valuable tourist dollars into the area but they cause a giant nightmare on the commuting roads and there's virtually no place to park those behemoths in the Capital. The out of staters also don't realize that if they don't go at least 60 mph on the commuter roads they'll either get run over or be the target of many anger honks. People drive like idiots on the highways, interstates and beltways here.

Since the cherry trees are in full bloom and the festival is taking place it meant that traffic on the beltway was a zoo. But it wasn't any better when I got to near where I was going. I was sitting on the off-ramp in Baltimore, waiting to get on Eastern Ave. to go to the Bayview Campus of Johns Hopkins, sitting about three cars back from the light. There's this homeless veteran that hangs out and asks for money there and I usually give him a few bucks. Today I was too far back, but I noticed the guy in a white truck at the light handed him some cash and talked with the veteran a bit. The light turned green and the guy in the white truck was caught unawares, I nearly honked, had my hand on the steering wheel to honk because he was so slow, but he did finally mosey into the intersection a good 30 seconds after the light turned green.... and WHAMMO.... got t-boned by a lady in a sedan. Almost took out the homeless veteran.

Strangest case of karma I've seen considering the man in the truck who was hit had just given the homeless vet money. Anti-karma?

Lady has clearly run a red light, not a yellow, not even close to a yellow, gets out of her car and starts screeching at the guy who's truck she just ripped up badly. The rest of us behind him go around the wreck and park on the shoulder to wait for the cops. It was a cluster you-know-what and we all stayed to give statements to police to dispute what she was trying to say happened.

More excitement than I wanted today.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sunburns and Turd Polishing

Nope, no whining. I'm much better now. On Thursday after another doctors visit I grabbed the nasty bull by the slimy horns and wrestled it away by spending the afternoon doing something that always puts my emotions right, working in the garden. Plus the new meds for the allergies and asthma are helping a little bit. Being able to breath is awesome!

I went to the nursery to get flowering plants to replace everything that died during this severe winter that usually comes back. The winter was brutal that it even killed the ivy I had planted in the large round planters that flank the front door. I got things in every color imaginable.

The last four days I worked at planting those pretty flowering things and more spring vegetables. I've started digging out the grass to put in the base of a fire pit in the backyard and yesterday afternoon I perused organic seed catalogs, making plans to order seeds for Dragons Egg Cucumber and Amaranth seeds, in the sweet sweet sunshine.

Four days in the blessed sunshine and fresh air. But towards sundown last night I noticed I'd started to turn a cherry blossom pink, me that is Cajun, dark and never burns. Apparently one of my new meds causes sun sensitivity so I'm experiencing like the 4th sunburn I've had in my lifetime. You poor pale skinned folks!

Yesterday at church I asked a pal that works the same place I do what was happening up on the hill the facility sits upon. I haven't worked for nearly two weeks. His answer made me laugh, he said, "They're all busy polishing the turd."

The founders will be there tomorrow and apparently everyone there is engaged in trying to make it look like the place is good and functional instead of what it actually is, a giant turd. I know I'll not get called in this week with the founders and others from the west coast office being onsite. Shrugs, I have more gardening to do anyway, I guess I'll have to wear a hat, long sleeves and pants to do it now.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Few More Puzzle Pieces

This week I've been trekking back and forth to the doctors offices. First at Johns Hopkins and later here locally. It's been a huge triggering kind of a week but I feel like I did at least gain a few more pieces of knowledge about my ongoing asthma and allergies. I just wish the process was less triggering and much easier.

Ironically I've been offered a position at a physicians office. Not sure I'm going to take it, but pretty sure I'm not going back to my old job either. I don't need that constant drama and the lies of the management people.

One of the big things I've realized is that I'm not emotionally healthy because I've never dealt with the sexual abuse I suffered in my childhood. I've been in and out of therapy in the past but I think I'm going to have to go back in. My aunt, also molested by the same guy, has been telling me for years that I'm emotionally ill because of what happened and could not even realize how sick I actually was. After working around kids from abusive situations and reading many of the therapy books at work plus my reactions to triggers I have to say she's right. So today I'm rescheduling with my old encouraging therapist.

I'm not depressed, I'm just not right in the head.

Johns Hopkins - I had a visit with a vocal cord doctor, an expert and had tests run. After having natural childbirth and a fingernail cut off without anesthesia I can honestly say that the tests they did were the most painful I've experienced, even as I've had similar testing in the past and it wasn't nearly that bad. I've been developing a whopper sinus infection for weeks now and that impacted the testing. There was lots of gagging (nearly puked on the doc three different times), weird test instructions like yelling out counting and a deep lake of tears they tapped.

The tests? Inconclusive. I have to repeat them all in three months. They could not determine either way about my vocal cords or provoke them to shut. I have to bring in a few more triggering things, like cigarette butts, cleaning supplies and other things I react to they did not have available.

The thing that made all of this so flipping emotionally triggering is that a herd of residents and interns interviewed me again and again, right down to asking me if I'd been sexually abused as a child. The young asian doctor was really invading my personal space, making me very uncomfortable, asking that questions and I broke in tears and could not stop for two days. See what I mean about needing to deal with this? It has only been in the past ten years that I could admit to myself or anyone else what happened. Jim learned of it ten years ago. My mother still doesn't know.

The good? Meds switcheroo and additions, including an experimental new leukotrine inhibitor, back to some of the mast cell inhibitors that helped in the past and a proton pump inhibitor. Also I was told by the respiratory therapist that I'd likely developed breathing patterns during that trauma that are making all of this much worse. She taught me a few ways to deal with the breathing and I'm to start going to Hopkins twice a month for breathing therapy. It can't hurt.

Looks like singing has saved my life on many occasions. Just having a strong and trained diaphragm has allowed me to keep powering through some of my asthma attacks. 

Between all of that I started bleeding in my sinuses and windpipe from the tests so it was back to the doctor for treatment. I have thin blood and bleed/bruise easily and treatment for the suddenly much worse sinus infection.

Yesterday and today are all about resting till the meds kick in and the sinus infection is better. I am wiped right now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Will, The Will, Who's Got The Damn Will

So now I'm not getting any hours this last week and quite frankly, I'm more than a little relieved. I'm not sure I want to go back into that environment plus I filed a grievance over the whole nasty confloption. I did like I was supposed to and called in to check my on-call status but I'm not pushing for work. I'm interviewing elsewhere, for contractors jobs in the computer field in the Greater DC area.

After being triggered by anything to do with my past or past church leaving I'm wiped out for days. It takes me a few days to put myself back together. This time was no exception.  Add in a sinus headache and a looming sinus infection and there you go.

I had to finish up the taxes this week, put in all the data from our brokerage accounts and it's sort of like trying to climb Mount Everest without oxygen, a tent, a map, food or even a decent coat. It's depressing and defeating, taking days because our broker has his 1099s in the most awful confusing format and there's reams and reams of data, some of which doesn't need to be inputted. I'm no accountant and Turbotax is shit on guiding you through what I have to do to get the taxes right. I usually end up calling a tax accountant buddy a few times, calling the brokerage a dozen times to yell at them for not having importable files for the IRS. It's tedious and where if I'm going to screw up there it is, just like I did three years ago. Now, I'm much more careful and check behind myself constantly.

While trying to tool around the State of Virginia website to see if my situation at work violated any labor laws I stumbled across the state Unclaimed Funds page. After looking myself up I discovered that the state was holding a small check for me from a long ago settlement of a class action lawsuit against a merchant. It's only fifty bucks but I filled out the paperwork and sent it on it's way.

Decided to check the state of Louisiana's page next. To my astonishment listed on the page was a large sum, in the thousands, going to my late father and another not insignificant sum to him. After calling around and doing some digging at the Dept. of Revenue I discovered the large sum was an insurance payout from when my grandfather died, five years after my father, that should have gone to me.

The address of my father listed for it was the same address as my evil aunt who's been putting me through hell since the day my father passed trying to keep me from inheriting a penny. I've had to fight her in court a number of times now, right down to how to split the family lands when my grandfather died. She wanted to give me random unconnected pieces even if I was the only one in the family that owned land there still. I felt I should have my land in one piece attached to what I already owned.

She's failed at keeping me from inheriting my father's estate, failed at keeping my land divided up but succeeded in making my father's death just a little extra painful with her greedy attempt to inherit it all. When that insurance policy paid off after my grandfather's death she knew my address. Heck, her lawyer sent my lawyer a check for my part of that estate in a timely fashion. They had the address.

The fact that the money has sat there unclaimed for eight years now is an obvious 'fuck you' for my fighting her, standing up to her and refusing to give in to her demands that she was entitled to a penny of my father's estate.

Until my father died I had no idea that family could be your worst enemy. She's tried every low trick, right down to trying to suck up to my maw-in-law to get information on me. It got so bad I had to take out a restraining order and demand if she had anything she needed to get in touch with me about, such as the division of my grandfather's land, she had to go through my attorney.

I know I sound bitter but this woman has been harder to deal with than the devil himself.

The funny part of all of this is that they have to pay me interest on holding the money that long, and I am finished with my evil aunt for all time. Plus the other money turns out it was from my father putting down a deposit on an apartment just mere days before he died. Looks like he was about to leave my stepmother. Too bad he didn't pass after he'd divorced her and settled up because I had to deal with her upon his death too.

The lesson I learned through all of this is leave clear instructions in your will well before you pass over. Don't leave a pile of wills of different dates and some not registered with the courts. Don't leave a mess to add to your grieving family members burden. It's bad enough they had to pick a coffin and plan a funeral but having to fight a rapaciously greedy relative makes it much worse.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Swim Suits and Snow

Power out at work so I was released after a mere hour at work. But in that hour before we lost the lights I did file a grievance report with HR. The ball is in their court now.

The funny thing about being triggered so badly yesterday is that this week our weekly training was about PTSD and triggers. Irony.

So I did the only sensible thing you can do when it's snowing. And it is snowing hard with vehicles in the ditch and a couple inches on the ground. I went out to buy swim suits for the gym.

One of my frustrations with going to the gym is my swim suit. The chemicals in the pool have eaten through the 'good' suits I've had, my Speedo suit, my Jantzen. So I switched to cheapos from Wal Mart. Having lost down a couple of sizes means my usual suits hang like spandex potato sacks and the only suit I have now is a couple of sizes too small. Squishes the boobs like I'm trying to achieve the Roaring Twenties flat-chested ideal. I like my breasts too much to want to torture them in the pool.

Buying swimsuits and bras is one of the worlds most frustrating and difficult tasks.

Splurged on a couple of two piece tankini suits, one the size I'm wearing now and one that is one size down. I can wear both  and both have built in underwire support. Better than a squashing.

If that doesn't work I think I have my Betty Rubble bikini somewhere in storage. I bought it many years ago when we stopped at a beach in Florida on our way back from visiting relatives and none of us had brought suits. It was towards the end of the season and not much was left on the store racks. I ended up with an asymmetrical two piece in blue cheetah print, even the swim skirt was cut at weird angles, just like a get up from 'The Flintstones'.  It was so bizarre I've only worn it a handful of times now, but I hang onto it just because it's so odd.

Make this in cheetah print and it's just like mine! But I'd rather be dressed like Betty Draper than Betty Rubble.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stomping On My Trigger Button

There are days when I forget I'm in recovery from fundamentalist theology and the accompanying damages and that I still deal with the trauma of being sexual abused from the ages seven to nine. Then life hands me a person, place or thing that is a trigger object.

Today I experienced what for me is one of the biggest triggers that sends me into PTSD every time, where I weep and retreat and shut down for the day. What is that? Being yelled at.

The dentist that sexually molested me would yell at me and pinch off my air supply when I fought back. I'd black out. As a consequence when someone yells at me in anger I shut down and turn seven years old again. None of which is helped by all the yelling people did towards me when we switched churches, triggers upon triggers.

Better start at the beginning. Friday afternoon I'm working in on the offices of the medical records folks. I was sorting documents for filing, just to be nice, because I had time to kill, trying to make one of my friends in that office have a little lighter load.

Now this is the same office I've struggled with the boss, Stinky Guy, and a couple of the cattier women working there. Last week and this week we have had a pile of people from the corporate offices of our charity there nosing around. The big BIG boss of the whole shooting match is a lady named Latrina and she'd sent some emails, the contents I do not know the contents of, to Stinky Guy's right hand gal, Kelsey.

So I'm in there, killing time on a Friday afternoon before I head up to give the receptionist a break, minding my own business when Stinky comes tells Kelsey that he'd received the emails she'd forwarded him from Latrina and he's forwarded them to Big Red. Yeah, Big Red who no longer works there, who's done a million hateful things to coworkers there, and is universally hated by everyone but Stinky.

It wasn't a conversation I wanted to overhear because by Stinky saying he's forwarded confidential emails that were not even his to forward to someone no longer connected to the organization he's breaking like a whole bunch of organizational rules, not to mention possibly some federal laws.

I was worried when I heard this and didn't know if I should ignore what he said, or tell someone above me. Ultimately I decided when I went to relieve the receptionist I would ask her what I should do. She's been there fifteen years, knows where all the bodies are buried and would know exactly what policy was. So I told her. She urged me to immediately go to HR and tell them but as we were talking Lauren came in. Lauren works at HR and in the Admin bldg. She overheard enough to know what we were talking about and told us that HR and Admin were aware of the situation with Stinky and were going to take care of it soon, so not to worry or do anything about it.

Quite frankly I was relieved. Because to dob in Stinky for something like that I knew there would be blowback. I went home, told Jim all about it and promptly forgot all about it.

This morning. I come in, go into the annex office where I always log in, peruse my emails before leaving to go around to get my duties done. Plus I was anticipating having to do a big project for the head therapist so I was sticking around for that. No sooner than I'd booted up the old cracked out laptop when Kelsey, all of 24 years old Kelsey, tells me we need to talk in a very hostile voice. I sighed, realizing that someone must have spoken to her and Stinky and she thinks because I overheard their conversation it had to be me.

I just came right out and told her, very honestly, that yes, I had overheard and discussed it with a supervisor if I really needed to be concerned about it and decided to not do anything at all. I just didn't tell Kels that others were onto them, that this was in the works well before I heard anything.

She went nuts on me, yelling and screaming, calling me names and saying I was banned from the building, to take myself down to HR for reassignment. I sat there and took her nasty anger that I didn't deserve. I got up, said fine and left, managing to hold back any tears till I got to the restroom. I cried profusely, between being blamed for something I didn't do and all the yelling and name calling. She called me 'stupid' 'ridiculous' 'evil' and 'unprofessional'. Can someone explain to me how yelling at someone is considered professional?

Ended up at HR crying so hard they couldn't make sense of what I was saying and sent me to work in the Main Office for the day. I learned at the Main Office that Kels and Stinky had been confronted and decided I was the one that tattled on them because I'd been in the office that afternoon.

I know that silly 23 year old just violated a number of rules in the employee handbook and I can and will file an HR grievance in the morning. Plus she has zero authority to ban me from a building or tell me what to do, she's not my supervisor at all. But... the part of me that triggers at names and yelling was triggered and I had to fight not to allow the crying re-traumatized seven year old out. Having some issues today and tonight with PTSD.

The upset has triggered my IBS. But.. I went to workout tonight and that helped. Writing a factual account for my grievance tomorrow and writing here has helped. I know what I did and did not do. I also know that the women in that office, Kels included, are a hateful bunch and I refuse to allow them to drag me down. This is why I hate working in offices with loads of other women, they aren't happy till someone else is upset.

They must have gotten one horrible balling out to freak out like that I guess.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bumper Stunned Toads & Prison Pants

I had an interview for a much better position at work this week. Although it wouldn't take much to have a better position since I am the on-call do-it-all dogs body that does it all.

One of the things I did to prepare for the interview was buy a new outfit. I got a pair of pants that re almost identical to those from this Vogue photo, slubby silk stripped pillitzo, umm, plazato..hmm...  pants. The lady who I'd be working with came with me to pick out a semi-dressy, semi-casual interview outfit since this position involves interaction with the community and outsiders. I also bought the black tunic designed to go with the pants but didn't wear it. I ended up wearing a black twin set sweater. I looked good, fashionable for a change instead of old hippie wear.

But when Jim got home he wanted to know why I was wearing baggy prison pants or pants that looked like I'd stole them from the set of "Beetlejuice". So much for fashion. I thought I looked good.

Dressing since leaving fundamentalism has always been something of an up and down roller coaster ride, a balancing act between me exhibiting my artistic side and expressing myself through my clothing and fitting in enough to have a job.

That was the big excitement of this week. Only other noteworthy thing that happened was some work intrigue I'll detail later this week and today. Got up this morning, oxygen levels in my shoes decided it was a lay on the sofa, crochet and gorge on Mad Men episodes. No church. Jim went to church, I stayed home and treated myself kindly. Bumper stunned toad on the sofa

That's another thing I've learned post-fundieland: when you aren't well you have to take care of yourself. Fuck everyone elses needs and expectations. You do what you need because everything else can wait.