Monthly Archives: November 2010

Etsy update

The store is created, now we just need to list some items! Stay tuned for a give-away! Nothing like beautiful jewelry to bring a smile out :-) I mean, you know, if a give-away of free stuff doesn’t do it for ya.

Another update tagged on: I got off my be-hind and swept and mopped today. It felt good. Soon the hubby and I are meeting to pick out an ex-mas tree. Good times, first I clean the floors, then I litter them with needles :-P WORTH IT. Do you have a tree yet?

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Insidious

Warning: This post would fit in over at Tulpen’s Bad Words. Actually, it might be a bit much for her.

I fucking hate the insidiousness of invisible disorders. How much is the disease, and how much is “normal”?

For years I thought that everyone was as exhausted from their job as I was. Everyone talks about working full-time and being tired when they get home and just wanting to sit down. But most people can interact, and stand up, and get food, and do other basic things. I figured I was just weak or being lazy. But no, my level of exhaustion was far beyond what is normal. I finally learned that. (But I still doubt it.)

And now, I work less. I sleep more. But still, it feels like there’s no time or energy to do shit. Like, oh, I don’t know, clean the fucking house.

Take yesterday. I woke up at 10:30 (I know, I’m pathetically lazy. I am recovering from my weekend of travelling and I stay up late to see my hubby since that’s the only time we have together). I showered and got out the door to start working at noon. I worked solid (except for a 1-hour massage which turned into a 40-minute one when my appointment ran late because everything was so back-to-back, fucker) until 9:30 PM, when my last student left class. I ate in my car while driving to appointments. Then I got home, took care of all the business e-mails and tasks I’d neglected all weekend, spent 30 minutes doing fun stuff on my computer, and collapsed into bed. Obviously, almost no time to do any housework or such. Except that I only worked 9.5 hours! With the starting and ending drive, say 10+ hours. With the computer time (answering e-mails, updating classes, doing paperwork) say 11. It’s just ME that led to those being basically the only hours I was awake. Should I have gotten up earlier? Stayed up later? What the hell?

What can I legitimately expect from myself???

What is reasonable with the chronic fatigue syndrome? Obviously normal levels of activity are not, since normal people can work full time jobs without their immune systems shutting down and turning into complete walking zombies. Remember, after I quit it was significant that I smiled at my husband. Smiled. How fucking pathetic is that? I was so exhausted I didn’t even smile at him for over a year, unless maybe occaisionally on a weekend.

On the other hand, it’s not reasonable or legitimate that I just sit on my fat ass at home, doing nothing, resting, because I am fatigued. I should be able to do housework. Pick up. That kind of shit.

I don’t want to. I don’t care. Does it bother me that the house is cluttered? Yes. In 20 years will I look back and regret that? No. Is it worth picking up on my own? Not in the slightest. But it’s not fair to only do it when the hubby is home, since he has a fucking job. And it bothers him.

So how much of me not doing any fucking cleaning is due to me legitimately being fatigued, and how much is due to me plain ol’ not wanting to?

I have no fucking clue.

But it puts me in a fucking impossible place.

Do I just start gung-ho-ing the cleaning and hope I can keep the rest of my health up? Bad if I slide down again. I’m still recovering from working full-time for two years 6 fucking months later.

Do I do nothing and contribute not a goddamn thing to this marriage? Clearly not OK. Mutual partnership != one person making all the money & doing all the cleaning & keeping track of everything & & & & How the fuck can I show my husband he’s important to me when I don’t do the most basic things in a married partnership?

Where in the middle can I fall? I am exhausted and feel shitty. But how much of that is legitimate I-need-to-listen-to-my-body-to-stay-healthy, and how much of that is I just don’t wanna?

I have no fucking clue what standards are reasonable for myself. Is it reasonable to expect myself to do x,y,z, or is that unreasonable due to all the shit that’s fucked up in my brain (and wherever else it’s fucked up since it’s invisible and for CFS no one fucking knows).

I fucking want a missing limb. I want something tangible. I want to be able to say, look, I clearly can’t do that, so I’ll do this. I don’t know how to listen to my fucking invisible disorders. There is no “clearly” about what I can and can’t do.

You always find people saying, “Look, I can do this despite my disability!” Like, “Look, I can run a marathon despite missing a leg!” But you know why that is? They fucking know the limits put on them by their disability. And they can then see how to overcome those limits using available options.

I don’t know what the fucking limits are. I don’t even know if the fucking limits exist. I don’t know if I’m overcoming them, or if I haven’t gotten close to them, or if I’m flat out trying to push myself to do something impossible.

And so far, I have utterly failed at finding any balance. I am exhausted and still feel shitty most of the time. And yet, I am doing jack shit at home to help and bringing in virtually no money. My hubby just got a raise. I am thrilled for him. But the amount his raise increased his annual salary is more than the total amount I make at all my jobs. About double it.

I contribute nothing. I feel like shit. Clearly this is not balance. What the fuck is?

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life

Another form of security theater

I flew with my service dog this weekend, going home. I am about to undertake a mini-rant about that experience. And knowing me, the “mini” is relative. Fair warning.

First, there are two types of animals covered by law: service dogs and emotional support animals. Service dogs are dogs which are trained in tasks and/or jobs which specifically help a disabled handler. The dog is trained in public access and in tasks, and has full access to all types of housing, all areas of public, and air travel. Emotional support animals are pets for a person with a psychiatric/emotional disorder. The animal is not trained in any way, but just provides emotional support to their handler by their very presence. They have access to housing and air travel, but have no general public access rights.

The above is totally correct.

Except.

Under the DOT, who governs the rules for service animals flying, psychiatric service dogs (public access trained and task trained) are grouped into the same category as emotional support animals (untrained pets).

So. When you travel with your extensively trained psychiatric service animal you have to meet all the requirements the DOT has put in place for a special-case pet. Including one big one, which the DOT specifically says in other places in their rules is restrictive and unreasonable for service dog handlers.

That rule? You have to have, on letterhead, from a mental health professional, a letter dated within one year of travel stating that you have a DSM IV condition, that the animal is required either on the flight or at your destination, that the professional is treating you, and the details of the professional’s certification.

You have to carry this letter every time you fly. You have to get a new one every year. And whenever asked, you have to present it. In addition to answering any questions they may have about everything except the details of your disability, as all service dog users do.

In a year of flying with Toby I have never been asked to present the letter. He is clearly trained, and clearly identified as a service dog. I have been asked if I have it, but only by well-meaning people who want to make sure I know the rule in case someone else decides to get bitchy about it. They can tell he is not just a pet.

Until today.

I am in the airport waiting to fly home (where I can’t get web access, so this will be going up later). Earlier, I checked in to my flight. The woman watching the line asked if he was a service animal. I assured her that yes, he was, and offered documentation. She declined it. I went to check my bags and print my boarding pass. No questions. Went through security. No questions. Went to my gate. No questions.

Got to my gate. Went, of my own free will, to the ticket agent to ask if I could preboard since I was traveling with a service animal (as I usually do when traveling with Toby, that way the two of us getting situated doesn’t slow others down. It is allowed, and that info is confirmed on their website.). She pulled up my file and saw that he was technically an emotional support animal in their system. How did she see this? I had marked it on the information when buying the ticket. Even though the question was “Is he a service animal or an emotional support animal?” and it galled me to write emotional support animal when he is a trained service animal, I knew the intent of the question so I did. Me being obedient and trying to work with the system getting me screwed #1.

She looks at me and asks (very abruptly and accusingly), “Is he a service animal or an emotional support animal?” I remembered their phrasing and said, “Well, he’s, well, to you, an emotional support animal, but he’s really a psychiatric service dog.” Me being obedient and trying to work with the system getting me screwed #2.

She glared at me and I said, “I have his documentation, would you like it?” She asked, “Has anyone looked at it yet?” I replied, honestly, “No.” MBOATTWWTSGMS #3.

She said, “Well, then, I have to see it.” I agreed, and pulled it out of the folder in my bag where I had kept it. It was on letterhead. It said everything required. It was perfect.

Except.

It didn’t have a date. The regulation is that it has to be a letter from withinin one year on letterhead that hits those four bullet points. But having a date is not a bullet point, so I hadn’t noticed it was missing when running the checklist in my head. She examined it for a long time and said, again very abruptly, “This has no date on it.”

I turned pale. “Really?” I said. “I am so sorry, do you want me to call the person who wrote it to get her authorization? I have his previous letter, too, which expired just a few days ago that I can show you.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” the agent told me, annoyed. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that was the end of it, and making a mental note to update the letter ASAP. “Did you fly out here with this letter?”

“Yes,” I answered, confused. She tried to find my flight out and couldn’t. When I realized what she was doing I said, “We didn’t fly on your airline (Southwest), we flew Horizon.”

She looked at me for a long second. “OK,” she said. “I’m going to let you on.” (Said as if she was doing me a big favor). “But only because you are flying home. If you were outbound, I would have to deny letting you get on the flight.”

At this point I am shaking and unsettled. “Alright,” I tell her. “Thank you,” I say gratefully. Grateful, because even though she was abrupt and rude she really does have the power to deny my fully trained service dog, who has met all of the additional requirements placed on an emotional support animal including a letter meeting the fairly detailed requirements with everything but a date.

She was doing her job. She was taking it to the letter of the law and being vaguely bitchy about it, but she was just doing her job.

What pisses me off is that I have a fully trained service dog, but because my disability is psychiatric, it is treated as if it is less real than a (more obviously) physical disability. I say “more obviously” because psychiatric disabilities are physical. My brain does not work right. It is not just that I haven’t decided to try hard enough. My wiring is wrong. And my dog, by his presence and by his tasks, helps keep me alive and lets me go out in society. If I was in a wheelchair, no questions would be asked.

It also pisses me off because needing the damn letter is so stupid. Honestly. The rationale behind it is that it is easy to fake having a psychiatric disability to fly your pet for free. Fine. So make untrained ESAs bring letters, since they are just pets. But psychiatric service dogs are trained. Extensively. Just like balance-assist dogs. Or autism dogs. Or hearing ear dogs. And, just like with those dogs, it is visible in the training. Plus, this law only applies to psychiatric service dogs. It is specifically said it would be an unfair burden for other service dog users. But if you want to fake getting on a plane, all you have to do is say you have a seizure disorder and this is your alert dog. Even easier to fake, as seizure disorders often don’t show up for weeks at a time, no one expects to see any symptoms! And seizure alert dogs are much more well-known than psychiatric service dogs.

Plus the only reason I almost lost my place on my flight was I was trying to be obedient! I could have side-stepped the prohibition at any of the three points above, just by answering differently. I could have side-stepped the whole thing just by not asking for a pre-boarding pass and flying more under the radar (no pun intended). I probably could have even farther avoided it by acting more confident (you know, not having a psychiatric disability). If you’re trying to sneak your dog on, it’s easy to avoid the rules. But if you have a legitimate disability, it is a hassle to meet all the extra requirements (the letter is just one, the biggest, but not the only). Even though for last year I was never asked for my letter, I still had to obtain it, carry it at all times, and keep track of it between flights. So frustrating!

It’s just another type of security theatre. To prevent people from brining on pets and claiming them as service animals, they punish legitimate service dog users with a bunch of hoops to jump through. And anyone wanting to sneak a dog on can do it just as easily, by claiming they have a seizure disorder (something more people are going to be happy to claim anyway, as psychiatric disorders are so taboo in our culture). It’s just like how the TSA now has to squeeze our breasts and run their hands along the underwire in our bras to look for contraband, when anything that could fit their could go in like a tampon just as easily. Does it make us safer? No. Does it hassle a lot of lawful people? Yes.

I don’t mind losing freedom or going through hassles for a procedure if it is effective at what it is doing. But when it’s not, it ticks me off to no end. And more to the point, it sends my anxiety through the roof. In this case, a lot of untrained minimum-wage workers have the power to deny me what is, essentially, a life-saving treatment, on a whim. It’s been over an hour and every muscle in my body is still tense.

Oh well, at least I have my psychiatric service dog here to help me calm down and re-center. I didn’t have a panic attack, in part thanks to his presence. And he has been performing one of his tasks to help me re-center as I sit here, waiting for my delayed flight.

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Filed under Dogs, Invisible Illnesses, Life

Naming help needed!

Some of you more dedicated readers may remember my favorite student, who I have mentioned quite a few times. She has an awesome rescue dog who came to her with reactivity problems and has now become a therapy dog with about a bajillion awesome tricks under her belt! Especially considering this is the first dog this woman has ever owned, I am pretty darn impressed with the dedication and skill and massive outpouring of love this woman has put and puts into her dog, not to mention she’s just freaking fun to be around!

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that she makes jewelry. And I am trying to help her set up an Etsy shop so she can sell said jewelry.

I’m trying to get her to set it up before Christmas, so I can maybe buy a present or two. And do a give-away so YOU guys can maybe GET a present or two! :-)

But there’s one big hold up.

We can’t come up with a name.

I stink at naming. Really. Awful. I am no help.

So I thought maybe all y’all could help us out! Who knows, maybe you’ll win a fabulous prize from it. (Like my gratitude.) And then you can have me hosting a give-away for some beautiful jewelry!

So. She makes jewelry. Really, pretty jewelry. Her initials are ART, which SHOULD be easy to incorporate into a name…if all names with “ART” in them weren’t already taking. See, ARTDesigns, easy! Taken!

The name needs to be easy to say and remember, so only 2-3 words.

Any ideas? Anything?? Please?

The sooner we have a name, the sooner I’ll give away free stuff!

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Oh, Thanksgiving

I know this is slightly repetitive after my last post…but…I have a confession to make:

I hate Thanksgiving.

Hate it.

With a firey passion.

I know a lot of people who, all month, have said something they’re thankful for every day. How fake and forced is that?? Especially when a lot of posts are clearly last-minute and lame.

That is not to say I’m not for focusing on being thankful. For example, I love how over at Bad Mommy Moments the blogger celebrates moments of intentional happiness regularly. Sometimes you have to look for those moments and focus on them, to really be thankful and happy about them. But she doesn’t just whip it out in November. It’s really a way of being for her. Year-round. Love that. But a month of everyone and their brother artificially focusing on it? Is just annoying, to me.

Really, I have always hated Thanksgiving.

It is composed of food, fake focus on gratitude, and family.

The food sucks. It sucks. I mean, does anyone like turkey? Honestly? I find it dry and gross. And odd that, if it’s so great, we don’t eat it other times of year. I don’t mind turkey when it’s ground, heck, it’s a main ingredient in my enchiladas. Largely because it’s so bland, it absorbs flavor well..thus I don’t serve it alone. But an entire turkey? Just..crazy. And then you throw in gravy, stuffing, cranberry everything, just ick! Nothing in the spread is to my taste! And yet, you’re expected to gorge yourself, so just eating a little is considered rude. For someone who is obsessed with what others think and also has a really strong sense of smell (and thus, taste, and thus, is picky), that’s a nightmare. Blech.

And family? My family was never happy get-together-y. Us being together was always stressful. I don’t care if it was extended family or immediate family. And even after my parents were separated, and then divorced, we still all got together for Thanksgiving. Every year. At one table. Yeah…not stressful at all. I just don’t get it. I don’t like my family (for the most part). So focusing on them isn’t any more fun than fake focusing on gratitude.

Basically, there is nothing positive associated with Thanksgiving for me. It is just a time of major stress: stressing about faking thankfulness appropriately while stressing about keeping everyone happy in my crazy family dynamics (yes, I decided that that was my job, who cares if I was just a child?), and doing it all while choking down enough food I didn’t like that no one got mad about me. There is nothing appealing about this holiday to me.

My favorite Thanksgiving? The one my hubby and I spent in Canada. Where it’s not Thanksgiving. It was just a long weekend away to focus on the two of us. Brilliant :-)

Now, the day after Thanksgiving? That’s my kind of party. Though it sucks that anymore it’s not a real sale, for a long time my mom and I would get up at the crack of dawn and go out Christmas shopping to get, say, a video game at 1/2 off at Fred Meyer. Just the two of us, out shopping together, getting ready for Christmas (a day I really enjoy). That is fun! Special bonding time with my mom, focusing on a holiday where I can really express one of my love-languages of giving gifts.

How about you? Do you like Thanksgiving? And is Black Friday a day of happy memories, or disgust and fear?

 

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I hate being sick

Really. I do. I HATE being sick. Probably made worse by the fact that I never used to get sick.

Then I spent two years living set at super-high-stress-level and my immune system said f*** this and took off.

So now I’m sick an average amount. Which feels like a lot to me.

What I hate most about being sick? The lose-lose situation.

See, being sick totally drains me of energy (who doesn’t get this way?). So I just want to lay down. Because even sitting up is exhausting.

But.

When I’m sick I’m almost always congested. And laying down makes that worse, and so makes all my symptoms (which currently include congestion, itchy throat and ears, and the feeling that my head is going to explode from pressure but that might be OK because maybe then my ears would stop hurting) so much worse.

So. Feel more exhausted? Or feel more symptom-y?

I just love that life is full of choices..

*cough* *hack* *wheeze*

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RTT: TSA Edition

Have you heard of the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT)? They’re in airports across the country. Some have them as secondary screening tools/alternatives to patdowns (as they were originally promised they would be kept to), some have them as random primary screening tools (people are randomly selected to go through the AIT instead of the x-ray), and some have them as their only primary screening tools (every single person goes through one).

They take naked photos of your body. They are detailed enough to tell if you are on your menstrual cycle. There has been at least one case where the photos were saved (not deleted immediately as promised).

You CAN opt out of them. The alternative is to have an enhanced pat down. Which involves the TSA agent feeling and possibly squeezing your breasts. And using their palm to feel your genitals.

If anyone else took naked photos of you, or used their hand to feel around your breasts/genitals, it would be a sexual crime. The police have never been allowed to do it without probable cause. Now government employees can.

We need to raise hell about this until it is stopped. I am all for safety, but these do not even necessarily improve safety. The technology is not designed to see the explosive used by the underwear bomber last Christmas, which is supposedly what started these procedures and what they are here to prevent a repeat of. Anything in folds of skin or crevices is not seen. Knives could easily be carried through without being seen. And what’s more, no matter how extensive our security system, a government team whose job it is to try to breach airport security has a more than 90% success rate, under all of our different systems of security. Not with shaving razers. With automatic weapons and other such tools. A determined criminal can get through security. Is it worth submitting to sexual harassment and violation every time we fly when it doesn’t change that fact?

Here are some great articles on it:

Pilots are being encouraged to skip the backscatter due to health concerns. This article also covers some of the outrage, and some of the TSA’s responses to it. I love the line, “You should never have to explain to your children, ‘Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.’ ”

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This is an outrageous story about the TSA. One man decided to leave the airport rather than submit to either AIT or an enhanced pat down, and was threatened when he tried to do so. I understand that it is suspicious for a person to not want to go through security…but I feel that in this case, it is reasonable to not be OK with either option.

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This site has information about opting out, which is completely legal, even though many TSA agents try to convince you otherwise. In other places there is a National Opt-Out Day planned for the day before Thanksgiving. It is a movement for everyone to refuse to submit to AIT on this day especially, to cause a headache for the TSA. The call is to not make it easy for the TSA to use AIT so widely by making the TSA agents uncomfortable by requring them to do a pat-down, which also takes longer and upsets their system. The site also includes great information on some of the risks of AIT and low-resolution images of what the different types of AIT pictures look like.

A low-resolution copy of an image from the lower-resolution AIT technology. The original image, as seen by TSA agents, is clearer.

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The Israeli airport security system has not been breached since 2002, and yet passengers are through it in no time. This exact same system may not work for us, but it at least shows that a non-intrusive successful security system is possible!

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Want to do something about it? Here is information about a Senate TSA Oversight Committee meeting happening TOMORROW. Contact your congressperson and/or the chairpersons and ask if recent TSA abuses are on the agenda. Tell them you are upset by these abuses and want something done.

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And finally, let’s end off-topic with a funny video. I mean, it’s funny, because if I don’t laugh I’ll want to cry.

I have no problem with people having their religion. But when you use your religion to dismiss real concerns on a national level, I have a problem with that.

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OK, some normal RTT to round it out. I currently have my puppy cuddling my feet. And my kitty cuddling my side. I have been getting lots of double cuddles recently. They’re getting more comfortable with each other…and it’s getting colder :-)

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Sending out love and support to the mommy bloggers who are under attack by the government systems that are supposed to be in place to help them out. People are being investigated, and even having their children removed, for blogging. Ridiculous. For more, see Corey’s page. In her normal, awesome manner, she has laid out the problem and given a list of ways you can help.

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I have a big black dog class on Sundays. Not intentionally, but it happens to be all big black dogs. It also happens to have all awesome people. I love classes full of people open to learning and willing to take me at my word! Many of my classes include people who seem skeptical of positive training, just waiting for their dog to not instantly become perfect so they can point to that and say, see?? It doesn’t work! To which I reply, why bother taking my class, then? But Sundays make me happy :-D

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My WordPress theme was discontinued and replaced with this (very similar) one. Now I need get to play around with it and personalize it!

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I got my coupon for 50 free Christmas cards! I need to design and order mine, now! Fun yet overwhelming, I have lots of photos to sift through! Plus, what news do I want to talk about? My biggest news is some I don’t really want to go into…

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I’ll leave it there for now. Happy almost-Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Filed under Companions, Life, Random Thoughts Tuesday