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Yesterday, in about 50 cities, fast food workers were on strike seeking higher wages and the right to unionize. The average worker makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That’s a little over $15,000.00 a year BEFORE taxes and health insurance payments. How in the world can people live on that? I am outraged by all the companies that pay only the minimum wage and am discouraged that the minimum wage is so low. These people are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive every day. They are asking for $15.00 an hour which sounds like quite a jump but I support their efforts and, although it’s a slim chance, hope they get what they want.

Of course I realize that if the companies give them a raise it will mean they will pass on the extra cost to the customers – that’s how big business gets to be big business. I saw a news report, however, that stated it would mean only a $.65 increase to the cost of a big mac. I think we can afford that in order to give people a better life. And perhaps, if people feel that $.65 increase is too much, they will make better food choices so we can also fight the epidemic of obesity. I know, I know, it’s not that simple. I also know that some low income people choose fast food because, many times, it’s more affordable than a balanced meal. But I still feel the slight increase in price is worth it if it means our fellow citizens can live easier lives as far as money is concerned. We really need to revisit minimum wage and make sure it is set at a level that helps ensure people are able to breathe easier. So many people are one or two paychecks away from being homeless. The programs that support the homeless population are expensive so either we pay a little now or a lot later. I vote for making a positive change NOW. We all do better when we all do better.

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Ongoing Knee Saga

Sigh. Here goes …

I hurt my knee AGAIN last Sunday, two days after I saw Dr. Hill. What funky thing did I do this time, you ask? I stretched out my leg to put on a pair of pants. Yeppers, that’s it. But I hurt it worse than I had hurt it before. I can’t straighten my leg all the way and can only put weight on it if I’m in a crouching position. Yes, I look ridiculous when I walk.

I called my regular doctor on Monday and explained that I couldn’t really make it in to the office. My doctor was on vacation but the nurse conferred with the on-call doctor and told me to ice it, wrap it, take Tylenol, and if it wasn’t better in three to five days to call back. I did those things and it wasn’t getting any better so I called the doctor this morning to get an appointment. Luckily he could see me this afternoon so I had a great friend help me get to the office.

The doctor looked at it, poked it, and moved my leg in a couple directions, asking me if it hurt when he moved it. He said he didn’t think anything was broken but it was possible it was a tendon issue or one of my bone spurs had broken off and was irritating it. He said I should get an x-ray and see the infamous Dr. Hill again. Joy. The nurse came in and said that Dr. Hill didn’t have any available appointments in the near future so they were going to confer over the phone. She then took me to get an x-ray. It was painful to have the x-rays taken but hopefully they will help some doctor to be able to tell me what’s wrong.

It’s all just so bizarre. When I try to straighten my leg, it hurts on the underside of my knee and on the left side of my knee. To cut down on walking I shipped my dog off to grandma’s house where, according to reports, she is being overly spoiled. I would expect nothing less.

My mother picked up my knee brace for me today (yes, the one that my doctor said didn’t exist) and I’ve been wearing that. Can’t say it helps me walk at all but at least I have it. I have to hurry up and get this knee healed so I can go on The Big Trip. What terrible timing. We have trip insurance so if something catastrophic has happened to my knee we can reschedule the trip but we’ve already bought tickets for various attractions and we would lose all that money. Plus, my friend I’m traveling with would probably never forgive me if we had to reschedule. But it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll follow the doctor’s instructions and take it easy but the rest of it is out of my control.

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Pissed Off

If you recall, I injured my left knee about two weeks ago and tweaked it again about a week ago. I made an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon and saw him today. What a colossal waste of time. I was there for about two hours and actually saw the doctor for about a total of four minutes. Yep, four minutes.

After waiting quite a while in the waiting room I got ushered to the examination room where I waited even longer. The doctor came in, didn’t sit down, and started asking me a couple questions (when did I hurt it, where does it hurt). I’m the one who asked about the possibility of a knee brace so he said he’d talk to “the girls” to see if they had a knee brace that would fit me (I’m fat, if you recall).

I waited again and in came someone who didn’t introduce herself to me who proceeded to measure my thigh. She then went to get a brace and, no surprise, it didn’t fit. She left and a little while later the doctor came back. He told me she thought that there was no place in town that would have a brace that would fit me. Splendid.

The doctor then told me that there might be a problem with me getting the cortisone shots in the office (I have bone spurs and acute arthritis in both knees and I’m going to get shots before The Big Trip). He was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to get the shots in the right place and I might need to have it done at a hospital in the radiology department so they can do it with x-ray guidance. So off he goes again to discuss it with a nurse. Again, I waited.

The nurse finally came in and told me that the doctor decided I should go ahead and have the shots done at the hospital. Wonderful. I am NOT looking forward to that. I wasn’t too enthused with the prospect of shots in the knees to begin with, but now it’s this whole big deal.

I came away from the appointment feeling frustrated and pissed off. First of all, you see all those beefy football players with knee braces and yet they can’t find one to fit me. Second of all, why did I only get four minutes of my doctor’s time? I’m sure he’s going to bill it as at least a 15 minute consultation but he can’t sit down and talk to me about my concerns? And finally, I’m pissed off at myself for being fat. Regardless of how heavy a person is, however, I think they deserve good healthcare. I really feel like doctors have dismissed me and my concerns because of my size. They simply blame everything on my weight and don’t investigate any further. It’s easier and faster for them to tell me to lose weight rather than really take the time to listen and consider my concerns.

So here’s my plan of attack: I’m going to be pissed off the rest of the day then I’m going to get up in the morning and call around to home health companies to see if they can help me get a knee brace. And if they can’t help me, if larger knee braces really don’t exist, then I’ll just have to muddle through on my own. Companies really need to start making equipment that fit the population they’re serving. Large people are probably more susceptible to knee problems so why not make braces in larger sizes?

*     *     *

Okay, I just searched for some large sized knee braces and guess what? I found some! Those people at the doctor’s office obviously don’t know what they’re talking about. The ones I found are at a regular mail order company so insurance wouldn’t cover it, but if a regular store has them I would hope that a home healthcare company would have them available. Either way, I’ll be able to get a knee brace. So stick it, Dr. Hill!

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Inadequate

I watched a documentary on PBS on Monday named “Flying” and it left me feeling inadequate. In fact I almost stop watching it, even though it was interesting, because I was feeling bad about myself. It chronicled the life of a forty-something woman who is a filmmaker and travels the world. She has a ton of friends from different countries and backgrounds. She was living an exciting life and I found myself to be jealous of her. I have a very small circle of friends and am currently unemployed but have always had desk jobs. I don’t travel that much (although I’m on the final countdown to my European trip!) and would like to travel more. She was able to be very introspective and looked to her friends for context and feedback and is able to take negative feedback and make it an opportunity for personal growth.

I found myself taking stock of my life and not really liking what I saw. I’m still fat, I have few friends, I’m on disability so I have no job, I’m not spontaneous, and I’m just not comfortable in my own skin much of the time. I finished the documentary in tears. I know I shouldn’t covet someone else’s life but I just couldn’t seem to help it.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I just couldn’t live that life even though I wanted to. I’m an introvert (see THIS LINK. It completely describes me) and I need to get comfortable with that. It’s who I am. I’m working on losing weight, I’ll eventually have a job again, and I have little need for a large circle of friends. I need to find a way to be okay with where I’m at in life but it SO wasn’t what I imagined it would be. I mourn for that loss. But I need to stop getting stuck in the mourning period and move on with life as it is or make the necessary adjustments to change it.

I also need to cut myself a break. I’ve had difficult things in life to deal with (as we all have to some extent) and I’ve been able to come out the other side still intact. Depression consumed many years of my life and being overweight has inhibited me from reaching my full potential. As a residual effect of the depression, I tend to get stuck in the past because for so many years I didn’t see a future for myself.

The facts are that I’m a very compassionate person, I’m smart, have good common sense, love deeply, I embrace the differences in people, am a good problem-solver, and I am creative. I need to embrace the good in me and live from a place of gratitude and self-love rather than jealousy or grief. I couldn’t live her life because I am me and have different strengths and struggles.

I can intellectually realize all these things but have never been able to absorb them and believe them. It’s something I’m working on and will continue to work on the rest of my life I’m sure. With what do you struggle?

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A Pain in the Knee

The continuing saga of my knees. The latest chapter involves an injury that occurred Sunday. I stepped into my house and felt a searing pain in my left knee. That’s right, I was STEPPING INTO MY HOUSE. For fuck’s sake. It hurts really bad (worse than other knee injuries I’ve had) and I’m now walking with a cane. Or I should say hobbling with a cane. That just pisses me off. Is there no end to the negative ramifications of being fat?

Due to the injury and limited mobility, it’s easy for me to get depressed. I have a history of clinical depression but I’m on some good medications now so I’ve been feeling pretty good. But I’m feeling depressed and worried about the trip to Europe I’m supposed to take in October. My usual knee pain was going to be enough of a hindrance but if I’ve seriously injured my knee I don’t know what I’ll do.

So I’m sitting here with my leg up and iced and I pick up the phone to make a call and there’s no dial tone. Nada. Zip. Zero. I unplug the phone and plug it back in. Nothing. I check all the other phones in the house and they’re all on the hook and none of them has a dial tone. I get on my phone company’s website and that’s about useless. I’m trying to figure out what to do when I suddenly remember I have a cell phone. Duh. I know that sounds stupid but I rarely use it; I really only have it for emergencies. I call the lovely phone company and inform them of my trouble (after a maze of automated bullshit). They first inform me that the minimum charge, if the problem is on my end, is $85.00. Crap on a cracker that’s expensive. But he checked my line and said there was a short in the line so it’s a problem on their end. He said they would have it fixed by 7:30 PM the following day.

And that’s how I came to where I am now: sitting in my recliner with a sore knee, depressed, and without communication with the outside world. NOT a good combo for me. I’ll live through it and there are certainly worse atrocities in the world. But I’m just feeling a little helpless and lost right now. I go to the doctor tomorrow morning (showering should be a joy) so maybe I’ll have a course of action after that. I’m not actually going to the doctor for my knee; I need to talk to him about some lab results, but while I’m there I’ll discuss my knee with him. He’s the king of referrals so I will not be surprised if he just dumps me off on another doctor.

Ok, let’s say something good about the day. I found a portable, folding stool to take with me on the trip and ordered it thanks to my mom. That way I’ll have a place to sit down if I need it no matter where I am. There, that’s something positive. Good girl, Jules!

 

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Pissed Off

It pisses me off that I have to worry about watching what I eat every. stinking. day.

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Ouch!

I have been fat most of my life which means my body has been very challenged. I have had knee pain in both knees for a few years and I know it’s because I’ve carried so much extra weight throughout my life. But what’s done is done and I just need to find a way to improve the situation to the best of my ability. To that end, I visited with an orthopedic surgeon last week.

When I got to the doctor’s office I was almost immediately shuttled into the imaging department for x-rays of my knees. I very wisely wore a dress so I didn’t have to get into a medical gown. It went ok although it was a little bit of a challenge to stand for them, but we got it done and I went into a little room to wait for the doctor.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the doctor to show up (miracle of miracles) and let me just say, he’s a pretty good looking guy. He looks young but he can’t be as young as he looks. Anyway, he pulled up my x-rays on the computer and it took him a few seconds to tell me the verdict: several bone spurs and acute arthritis. Yay. He said I would need knee replacements but they won’t do them until I’m at least 50 (I’m almost 45) and lose more weight. I wasn’t terribly surprised by the diagnosis but it’s still disheartening to hear.

I told him I would be traveling in Europe in October and asked if there was anything I could do to improve the knee pain. I can’t take an anti-inflammatory because of the gastric bypass surgery so that was not an option. He advised that I come back to see him a week to ten days before the trip so he can give me cortisone shots in both knees. I’m certainly no expert, but that sounds painful. He said they would be more painful for a day or two following the shots, but then I should get some relief from the pain. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little freaked out by the prospect of a long needle being inserted into my knee. I don’t mind needles but it just seems wrong to mess around inside the knee; especially when it’s already sore. But I’ll do what I can to make the trip more comfortable so back to the doctor I go on September 30th.

If anyone out there has had cortisone shots in the knee please let me know what it’s like and how much it hurts.

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Slowing To A Trickle

I’ve been keeping my eye on my book sales (although not as closely as I used to; I was a little obsessed at first) and they’re slowing to a trickle. It makes me wonder why the sales were good (well, good for a first book from an unknown author) and now they’ve dropped off. I wonder if it’s moved down the list when people do searches for my key words. Who knows. It’s done a little better than I thought it would so that’s good. So far I’ve made about $65.00 from it, not that I was in it for the money. One thing I have mixed emotions about is the lack of feedback on Amazon. I had two very nice friends leave feedback but no one else has. In one way I’m glad because I don’t know how I’d react to a negative review but it would be nice to know how the book was received. I look at it this way, though: feedback comes from people with strong feelings about something. Apparently no one was terribly disappointed in the book but that also means that no one was blown away by it, either. And that’s ok. I didn’t expect people to be blown away by it; I just wanted to write a book for myself in hopes that it would help someone else through a tough time. I read a book when I was really depressed titled You Are Not Alone and it helped me just knowing that there were other people out there suffering like I was. It was a collection of reflections from people who were suffering from depression and it was nice to read things that mirrored my own thoughts and emotions. I felt a little less crazy after reading it. I just hope someone who read my book got some good out of it. That’s all I was really looking for. If you read my book I welcome your feedback; positive or negative.

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