Part III of the multi-part post from Summer 2007.

Part III

The following day, August the 30th, I had an appointment with a physician connected with this program I’m in. Also in attendance were my case worker and an Asian doctor who didn’t say one word the entire time–he just smiled and wrote things down.

My case worker sat with me awhile in lobby before the appointment.

I told her about the manager asking for a doctor’s note. I also told the doctor of this later. All my case worker said was, “Now this is the job you’ve been planning on leaving anyway, right?”

(James says case workers never really take stands, just often mirror what the patient says and act supportive.)

I told my case worker about my crying jags and my depression the previous Sunday, about missing work, anxiety, that woman who offered me the dog, and some other things I’ve forgotten now.

I told her I’d set up weekly appointment with therapist. I said I wish I could go more often, but she said I needed time in between to work on healing.

I then went back in to the office area and was weighed (252 lbs.) My blood pressure was 122/73.

Then they had me open my arms as they took a tape measure to my chest. I was tempted to say, “I’d like single-breasted with side-vents.”

My case worker looked alarmed at the doctor when I said I’d been worried and had even put off getting treatment because I didn’t want to be counseled or drugged into being happy with living my life as it is now, a drudge in a low-paying dead-end job. I know mindfulness (which she teaches) and all that often involves living in and accepting the moment–including “radical acceptance.” I said I want my life to change and improve–I have no intention of trying to be happy under my current circumstances.

We discussed much: my childhood seizures, possible abuse by biological father, my concussion, my depression from 1983 onward, my nervous breakdown over Fred, my childhood psychiatric treatments, my IBS, OCD, ADD, math disability, aversion to driving, “flooding” from ADD, Ritalin usage, all my depression meds, my germophobia, anxiety, anti-social behavior, excessive sleeping and eating, whether I had any history of alcohol and drug use, my irritability, sensitivity to noise, the fact I am single and childless, my recent patterns in jobs and how I get and quit them, my panic attacks, and how I don’t feel like an adult. I gave them the names and numbers for the three doctors I’ve had since 2003 as well as the shrink I briefly visited.

I mentioned about how my head and brain sometimes feel like they’re overheating or like a boiling kettle and he attributed that to anxiety–not a tumor or anything, as James had so helpfully suggested.

The doctor asked about my manic episodes and I explained my manifestations of anger in all shapes and forms, my spending sprees, and my extreme irritability. He asked how long my manic episodes lasted and I said they could last for minutes to a few days and then switch over to depression in as many minutes or days. Sometimes I said depression approaches like a thunderstorm–I see it coming but can’t stop it– other times it just appears.

He asked about how I panic before work and how I react once I get there.

I was in the doctor’s office for 90 minutes. My case worker had to leave after 70. I have to wonder if they wrote my whole deposition down. Occasionally I caught my case worker looking out the window or the doctor looking bored and rubbing his eyes or pinching the bridge of his nose.

I’m to meet with the nurse in six weeks and the doctor in three months.

He gave me samples of Lamictal, staged in doses of various sizes, to use as a mood stabilizer. i was concerned, as type-face of the med looked familiar and I wondered if I had taken it before with bad results.

Lamictal’s side-effects include forgetfulness, rashes, and depression. The drug is often given to Bi-Polar and seizure patients. The doctor also gave me a prescription for Ativan, which I am to take for anxiety. He had considered Depakote as a mood stabilizer, but said I might put on weight with that.

He noted that I get stressed on Sundays prior to work, and suggested I get out of the house then. I didn’t get a chance to tell him I’m always so physically exhausted from two days at the store that I don’t have the strength to do anything.

I must’ve seemed like I was talking 90 mph (which is a symptom of mania), but I wanted to give everybody as much information as I could and I didn’t feel I had enough time to do so.

Downstairs in the lobby I had to set some appointments, but not before I got to stand for some time behind a young man who’d shat his pants.

I began worrying about the Lamictal, that I had taken it to ill effect. I caught the bus and rode back to my neighborhood and went to see “2 Days in Paris” (too little Paris, too much neurotic man/woman relationship talk). By the time I got home I was fighting back tears I was so worried about this fucking medicine. I really didn’t want a repeat of all the bad side effects I had between 2003 and 2005.

On the 31st I made the first of several aborted attempts to fill my Ativan prescription, going first to the pharmacy at my corner supermarket. I had to wait a half-hour, while the lady pharmacist waited on the phone trying to find out what agency was or was not going to pay for my drugs.

As time passed I got more and more irritated…and observant.

A woman came up to a pharmacist and asked, “What aisle for the thermometers?,” and I was tempted to bark out, “Why don’t you try looking up your ass?”

A little boy came out of the men’s room with his daddy, and loudly greeted his mother by saying,”I SAT ON THE POT AND I GO POOP IN THE POTTY!!!”

After that I got up to stretch my legs, and was amused to find at the end of an aisle (what they call an “end cap” in retail) a big cardboard display for weight-loss supplement Trim Spa, adorned with air-brushed photos of a lithe and healthy Anna Nicole Smith, who has long since been converted into worm-fodder. The advertising slogan, above Smith’s loopy signature, was “Be envied.”

Yes, Anna, the dead are the only ones truly worthy of envy. No one can hurt you anymore, you dim-witted, pill-addled, big-titted rascal.

On September the 4th I made a long-delayed visit to my regular doctor’s office to get blood-work done, but because I have “rolling veins” (my veins are shallow and retreat from needles—supposedly this is common in people with chronic illnesses or dehydration or low blood pressure) the nurse poked a hole on the inside of my left arm and had no success, and finally got the blood from the back of my right hand.

My manager is a firm believer in the necessity of wasting the staff’s time. Though we have a staff of only three, he tries to have a staff meeting every week, as if there’s actually enough news to impart to the staff with that great a frequency—news that cannot be conveyed by means of a memo on the bulletin board or him just walking up to the front counter and telling us. This means that every Friday I get 30 minutes less sleep, yet am paid a whopping $3.83 for my trouble.

The catch is, if there are other events during the week, the meeting can get canceled, which leads me to believe the point of these meetings is not so much the conveyance of information as the flexing of muscles, the expression of management’s supposed power over the staff, the notion of “I am your Boss, your God, and I can hire you and fire you and I can also waste your time if it be my will.”

So on the 5th we were expecting a huge early morning shipment from the home office, and so we were scheduled to all come in 30 minutes early to help unpack all this shit. It turned out to consist almost entirely of Christmas items and boxes of candles—virtually nothing that we needed right now, and certainly none of the merchandise that would actually be selling RIGHT NOW if we had it in fucking stock.

So I arrived early and annoyed, went in to sign my time card, and saw on the calendar that the delivery had been rescheduled for noon…and the manager hadn’t even had the common fucking courtesy to call me and tell me there was no need to come in early after all!

After work I headed south to the Dobie Theatre to see “Rocket Science,” a quirky film about a socially awkward teen with a fucked up home life and a profound stutter, who joins the debate team in order to impress a girl he likes. It reminded me a great deal of a film from a couple years ago, “Thumbsucker,” about a socially awkward teen who sucks his thumb when feeling stressed and who joins the debate team in his search for identity.

I could sympathize somewhat with the hero of “Rocket Science,” because 25 or 26 years ago I signed up to audition for the high school play because I saw a girl I liked was auditioning too. I reasoned that if we were both cast then I could spend a lot of time in her presence after school at rehearsals and on long bus trips to drama contests. And during that time I could win her over.

I had initially considered trying out for a small role, since the lead role was all but sewn up by this arrogant transfer student who had extensive theatrical experience doing Gilbert and Sullivan in summer stock. But at the last minute I read over the lead part, found it fit me like a glove, decided to give it a try, and auditioned for it instead.

Not surprisingly, I got the starring role, while the girl I was into landed a minor job on the crew—along with the transfer student. In short order my one-sided romance was competing with my need for self-aggrandizement, Eros battling Ego, with the latter eventually winning, as it always does with me.

On the 6th I had to get up early and take a couple buses to the East Austin clinic to attend to some bureaucratic matters affecting my treatment. Suffice it to say an explanation of what that was all about would be lengthy and boring. But I finished early and then had to bus it to my first one-on-one therapy session in Northeast Austin. I was very early, so I explored the neighborhood, then went to the office. The building was nice, and there weren’t a bunch of scary-looking people hanging about, as there are at those other offices and clinics I now have to frequent.

The waiting room for the therapy clinic was dimly-lit and pleasantly furnished. It didn’t smell of piss or shit. AND they had the stereo tuned to a classical station. I went to the window of the front office and saw no one in there; I assumed they’d gone to lunch.

The station was doing a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, who had died overnight, and was playing his recording of “La donna è mobile,” (“Woman is fickle”–appropriately enough), so while I waited and regretted never having seen Pavarotti live, I started mouthing along the words in Italian, even singing faintly in a few places. Luciano and I had both reached the “Muta d’accento” High C in the second refrain when the receptionist came out and caught me enraptured; I was worried she thought I was talking to myself.

(By the way, I have only two degrees of separation from the Maestro—he was once interviewed by an old boss of mine.)

I took an immediate liking to my new therapist, and in 50 minutes managed to fill her in on many of the “Astonishing Tales of B___” from November 2, 1963 to September 6, 2007. I have high hopes for our association; I only wish we weren’t limited to just one session a week.

I am sure all these folks will be able sooner or later to fix my troubled brain; what worries me is whether or not anyone—myself included—will be able to fix my fucked up life and give me the kind of lifestyle I am so desperate to have.

The next two days were spent on the job, and as a result were an almost complete waste. The 8th was so hectic and stressful I almost broke down in tears at the cash register. And at some point some ignorant little kid asked if a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was in fact a porcupine, this conclusion drawn from the spiky appearance of the beams of light coming off Her person.

One day a co-worker and I were discussing our efforts at confronting people who are cruel to dogs. I mentioned how recently I was in my supermarket parking lot and saw a big Retriever in a car, albeit with the windows down. Since I always have paper on my person I wrote a note–”Please don’t leave your dog in a hot car. He’s wearing a fur coat”–then left it under the windshield wiper. I’m sure several people saw what I’d done, because I’d only been in the store for two minutes when some employee got on the loud-speaker and announced, “Will the owner of the car with license plate number ABC-123 please go out to the parking lot? Your dog is in distress.” And I heard hundreds of voices all over the store respond with a hurt, “Awww.” I hope the asshole learned his lesson.

My co-worker told of a similar story, only she found the prick inside the post office and told him off.

At this point my manager looked blankly and said, “It’s just a dog.”

I wanted to bludgeon that fucker to death on the spot. Few sentences get me angrier than that one. And my manager forfeited then and there any chance at my regarding him as a decent human being. And then, amazingly enough, a few minutes later he was saying how he and his new wife are considering adopting a retired and rescued racing Greyhound. They’ll probably be the types who’ll dump the dog at a kill shelter as soon as little “Kelsey” and “Kamaron” pop out.

I took the advice of a co-worker and bought some Epsom Salts and soaked in my bathtub filled with that and warm water, in an attempt to rid myself of some of the aches and pains that come from working on my fucking feet all day. And I must say the treatment helped somewhat, and afterwards I was so relaxed and gelatinous all I wanted to do was glide into bed.

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