Monday, August 31, 2009

Crime Boss Double-Cross

Last night was pretty fun and very random. It started off with me as this henchman (a slightly flabby young man, complete with stubble and dark curly hair lol) who was a low-ranking gangster in this plot to steal- actually I'm not sure what it was. It was in a burlap sack and was pretty heavy though. Which of course made plenty of sense at the time. Anyway, so I was supposed to pick this sack up from this other henchman guy and then deliver it to my boss, who was this high-up crime lord type. But I decided to pull a fast one and steal it from the person who I was supposed to pick it up from, and then run off with it myself. And to my surprise I managed to pull it off, at least at first. I grabbed it and ran down a dirt road with this guy in hot pursuit, but I was going fast enough to get away. But I knew better than to let my guard down. I took it into a high school to hide in the crowd of teenagers, and quickly realized I was being followed by about three different other gangsters. So I kept cutting down back hallways, always narrowly escaping.

I made it to this parking garage where I apparently had this really awesome car waiting- it was a sleek black sportscar. I met up with one or two accomplices and we hid the sack under the back seat. Then we started to drive out of the parking garage, only to find out that there were policemen searching cars at the exit. So I took a move straight out of Knight Rider and turbo-boosted my way over the concrete wall on the third level, landed on a side street, then drove off before anyone saw me.

But my success was short-lived, because as soon as me and my accomplices got to an office building and ran inside to hide with the loot, we were followed by none other than my crime lord boss himself, plus henchmen. We ran up to the top floor and had to hide really fast- I dove under a table. And then they tore the room apart and found us. Seriously, the furniture was totally destroyed. It should have been scary, but instead I was just amused that I'd managed to hold them off for the whole dream.

Today was really good actually. I got a lot done on my project, way more than I had expected to, and it was great because I did it without caffeine or any more energy than usual. I'm just getting good enough at using Flash that I can actually do a lot in an hour or two. This is really encouraging and makes me feel better about life. I think I will actually get this project finished on time, and with most of the things I wanted to put in it, despite feeling like crap. Take that, Life!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crazy Night

Last night was intense. Wow. I remember several dreams pretty clearly, but I don't remember what order they came in and I'm pretty sure there was other stuff in between them.

In one dream I was playing a video game that was set up kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure. My character was a soldier who was going through this big camp of tents looking for evidence of a crime. There was this whole mystery going on with missing people. I had to click on stuff to search it in these really messy rooms where I figured the culprit was hiding evidence. At one point I was in this bedroom and I kept finding bodies. There was a dead woman under laundry in a laundry basket, wrapped in a thin sheet with blood on it. It was really creepy and I had to remind myself it was just a video game I was playing. After searching that room I went to talk to the suspects to see if I could figure out what was really going on. It turned out to be at a teen summer camp, and I was having trouble figuring out who to even suspect. At that point I was actually at the camp as myself and it wasn't a video game anymore. Eventually I started to realize that it was the small group of people I had befriended that was responsible for the crimes.

In another dream I was on a boat sailing down a wide river- I think it must have been a cruise or something, because I was supposed to be there just enjoying the ride. There were a lot of other people on the boat too, but they were kind of annoying so I ended up staying by myself in my room a lot. It looked a lot like my real, current bedroom, and it even had the same carpet and looked like it should be in a house, not a boat, which I thought was kind of weird at the time.

Soon it got dark and it was time to go to bed, but I was having trouble going to sleep. I started hearing people talking, and seeing people walking around my room. I realized the boat was haunted. I started to get pretty scared as one ghost came over and started yelling at me. He was this heavy-set teenage boy who had another ghost that was somehow attached to him, only I couldn't see any details on her- she was just a silhouetted shadow, which was really creepy. The boy ghost was mad at me because he could read my mind and tell that I didn't believe in ghosts. He started shaking me and I was so afraid I couldn't move at all to get away. I kept trying to wake up because in my dream I figured I had fallen asleep and was hallucinating and needed to move so that I would stop seeing things. More ghosts came and had body parts falling off of them, or they were so thin they looked like skeletons. They were everywhere and I started to wonder if they were actually real. I tried to scream but nothing came out, even though my mouth gaped unnaturally wide. And then suddenly I jerked awake, heart pounding. I was back in my real room. I'm still not sure if I was hallucinating in my real room or inside my dream, because when I woke up I wasn't flat on my back and during the hallucination the room looked different, but on the other hand I really felt like I couldn't move and was fighting to wake up.

As you might imagine, I left my light on after that. I wanted to read a little to make sure that the dream didn't start again, but holding my eyelids open was a losing battle. At that point I was back on the boat, but this time it was all happy and colorful and I was looking at the dock we were headed for. Several of my characters were there with me, and instead of a boat it morphed into this really cool old house. It was kind of Victorian in its historical-looking wallpaper and furniture and so forth. It turned into me and one of my characters exploring and looking at all the furniture and shiny things. I don't remember much of that dream except that it was really fun.

Despite all the elaborate dreaming, I slept late and feel more refreshed than usual this morning. It might have to do with how exhausting yesterday was. I did a lot of socializing and even worked on my homework a little. I'm going to try to take it easy today.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Downhill Slide

Lately there's been so much going through my head that it's been difficult to sort out. The basic summary is that, at the moment, I'm feeling really overwhelmed by life. For one thing, the quarter is really gearing up right now and I have three difficult projects on my mind. I have several weeks of classes left, but I'm still really worried about getting it all done. Knowing me I'll manage it despite everything and even get really good grades. But this quarter has been harder than any before it even though I'm taking three classes instead of four.

I'm not sure exactly what's up, but it scares me a little. I'm more tired than I've been in a long time. I keep cutting back- doing less, being really careful about how much energy I use up. It has helped a lot, especially my new strategy for walking my dog. But no matter what I do I still seem to end up struggling with what I have left. I'm staying home so much more, taking more naps, but I'm still not sleeping well. It's gotten difficult to sit through my three hour classes. It wears me out so bad that I worry about driving home. I've been leaning more on caffeine than I would like, but it's the only thing that gets me through some days.

I'm also stressed out about possibly needing surgery on my sinuses. The prospect of having something else to deal with is not appealing. I'm also not sure if it's necessary, and at this point I'm kind of wishing I had picked my own ENT instead of letting my mom set me up with a surgeon. On the other hand, surgery may actually fix my problem instead of just postponing it like all of those horsepill antibiotics I've been taking for years. But I also wonder if it's not my inner-nose anatomy so much as my screwed up immune system to blame. I'm not going back to consult with the ENT until two weeks from Monday, but I'm taking both parents because I want actual brains there asking the relevant questions. I figure between the three of us there'll at least be about a brain and a half actually present.

And along with the stress and the classes and the driving and the doctors, I've been thinking a lot about my future. Saying that I'm worried would be a pretty big understatement. If I can barely do what I'm doing right now, and it's a fight that I have to fight every day tooth and nail to not outright lose, I'm really not sure how I'm going to handle employment. I'm being forced to digest options that do not appeal to me, like being financially dependent on other people for the rest of my life. Like not moving out of my parent's house for multiple more years. As I'm feeling worse right now it's difficult to say whether or not a part-time job is realistic, but even in slightly better times it has been more than I could handle.

Intellectually I know that it's not my fault. I know that I'm doing my best and that's all I can do even when it isn't quite enough. But part of me is ashamed that I had to drop down to three classes instead of four, and it hurts my pride that I need to look realistically at the idea I may not be able to work enough to support myself. I think in our culture these things are really important- the difference between success and failure, and if you aren't making it it means you just aren't working hard enough. But I know that I don't want my life to be the rat race, and that even if I did there's no way I could sustain it. So I'm trying not to let it upset me. Good luck with that, girl.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Car Drama

Last night I had moved back to Minnesota to live near my college again. I feel like it had something to do with getting a job. I had found a new apartment to live in and I had my (real-life) car with me. I was living with a couple of people who I didn't know very well and I was a little worried about some things. For one, our bathroom wasn't working at all- the plumbing was all screwed up. So me and my new housemates had to go to this other apartment that was across town if we wanted to shower or use the bathroom. That apartment had a lot of people- seriously, like ten of them- living in it already, so it was really hard to move around and get into the bathroom in the first place. Another hassle was that I kept having issues driving back and forth. Mostly I was just having trouble judging distances between my car and others, which is a problem I have sometimes in real life. At one point I was trying to back out around this car that had pulled into the apartment's small driveway behind me, and I kept almost bumping into it even when I thought I had room. And then I kept getting detoured around construction sites and getting lost and running into traffic. It was very frustrating and I kept having to figure out where to park places.

It's not surprising that I would dream about driving issues since it's something I worry about every day. I've hated driving since the first day of driver's ed, and for good reason. For one thing, as I mentioned before, my depth perception is off- I rarely get a really 3D sense of what's where in the world around me. This makes driving pretty frightening because I can't tell exactly how much space is between my car and anything else. That said, I'm pretty good at guessing because I've had so much practice, but in the early learning days it was terrifying. It also made parking hard to master.

It doesn't help that I live in a traffic and comstruction-ridden city that's filled with crazy, cell phone-talking drivers who cut you off and almost hit you at every possible opportunity. I've had days where I've almost gotten hit three times in the space of three blocks. The construction goes on year-round and major roads can be closed for multiple years at a time. It's awful and dangerous even for the drivers who aren't constantly fighting the urge to sleep.

Driving is also one of the most exhausting activities for me. I'm afraid of getting in an accident, and the fear makes me concentrate much harder on driving than I do on, say, walking my dog, because I know that I can be zoned out while walking my dog and not die. But concentrating hard enough to be able to respond to sudden events when you're going 35 miles per hour is very difficult and tiring. My brain is constantly trying to pull me into sleep mode, or at least zoned out mode, and it takes so much effort to stay focused on my surroundings instead. Because it wears me out so fast I can't do it for very long, especially on the highway where I have to be doubly alert. And it really isn't fun being afraid of losing focus when the stakes are so high.

Ironically, because I'm forced to be careful and concentrate so hard I'm probably one of the safest drivers out there. I've been driving for about seven years now and have never had an accident, not even a minor bump. I never talk on my phone or text while driving because I know that I couldn't get away with it, unlike most people. I'm actually glad that I'm forced to be so cautious because it keeps me safe. And as much as I hate driving, it's too convenient to risk losing the privilege.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's a Mystery

Today I only really had one thing to do, which was to work as much as possible on my project for Friday. I ended up spending about two hours on it, split up throughout the day. Even though I'm impressed with how much I managed to get done on it in that short a time, I wish I'd been able to do more. I have a lot of really great ideas for it but I'm just so rediculously tired today.

I'm trying to figure out what's going on exactly. I haven't eaten anything new or adventurous lately. I've been really careful not to overextend myself with my homework this week. I did have caffeine yesterday, which helped a lot then but might be part of my crashing today. And my sinuses have been getting suspiciously gunky, which never bodes well. I really, really hope that it's not another sinus infection. I've made it to week seven of this 11 week quarter and I'm going to get really mad if I can't get all the way through it without getting sick and falling behind in my classes again.

It might also be the earrings. I'm not quite used to them and it actually might be effecting my sleep more than I want to admit. I definitely haven't been sleeping well this week, but it might also just be the lowered dose settling in.

Basically I don't know what did this to me today, but I spent most of it too tired to do anything but watch tv. And then my dad came home with his not-exactly-accidental comments about how watching tv is a waste of time. Well, if I had the energy to do something else I would. Especially since there's nothing I actually want to watch on most of the time, and I have a great project that I'm really excited about to work on. If, you know, I could work on it for more than 30 minutes at a time without getting so exhausted that I find myself staring blankly at the screen, trying not to dose off.

Yeah. Class tomorrow is not going to go well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Needle Scare

Tonight I feel like I've been run over by a freight train. So we'll see how coherent this turns out.

Looking back on it, it wasn't that busy a day. Stressful maybe, but not busy. I didn't do all that much really. But it does go to show how easily I can get screwed by a not so great night's sleep.

The dream started out pretty cool, actually. I was in Japan with my mom, and we went to this shrine where there was a festival going on. We had fun looking at all the nice crafty stuff people were selling, and it looked pretty authentically shrine festival-y except for the absence of lots of sketchy food. I can't really blame my brain for leaving that bit out. We were looking at the jewelry, especially the earrings, and a Japanese woman came up and started talking to me in Japanese, which I managed to keep up with pretty well. She was asking all the typical questions, like how long were we there for, did we come for business or sightseeing, etc etc. The woman talked to my mom in English a little bit though it was difficult for her. Then we parted ways, but apparently we kept seeing the same woman every time we went to the festival (which was three times at least, during the week or two we were there). We did other things around Tokyo but always came back. Then it was our last day there and we talked to the woman for awhile again. And when she left I was sad because she had been really nice and I knew we were about to leave. Then I turned and started looking at books, and ended up picking one up and starting to read it. At that point my dream took a nosedive into extreme creepiness as I read this super-disturbing book that I will spare you the details of, and then I was in the main character's head and things got so scary that I ended up waking up paralyzed, nauseated, staring at my bookshelf and thinking it was someone coming to get me. I slowly realized where I was and it took so much effort to drag my mind away from that horrible dream. I spent awhile fighting to keep my eyelids open. Eventually I gave up and just turned my light on and went back to sleep.

I don't remember dreaming after that, but I woke up earlier than usual and feeling like total crap. I didn't accomplish much this morning. One reason was that I spent most of breakfast having a panic attack, my first one in a long time. I had a pretty good reason though. I had my CT scan today, and was dreading them injecting me with the contrast.

I've mentioned before that I have a pretty bad needle phobia. If you come near me with one, I will cry histerically for awhile. And I was already overloaded from yesterday, when I was at the mall and decided I was going to take the plunge and get my ears pierced. I had decided recently that that would be the first step in any attempt to conquer my needle phobia, since I really like earrings and being able to wear them would be a good reward for being brave and putting up with that same sharp pain that I'm pretty sure is the root of my fear.

Overall I'm glad I did it. It hurt like hell and was really scary, and if my mom hadn't been there I seriously would have fled at the last minute. I'm still not over it though. Besides the pain association, I hate the feeling of having the needle under my skin. And I'm discovering that that same feeling, minus the pain, is what it feels like to have earrings going through my ears. I think feeling that continuously for at least six weeks will be good for me in the long run, because once I'm used to it I may not mind needles as much. But this morning it just added to my growing panic about the scan.

Once the panic attack had run its course I was too exhausted to do much. I talked to friends and then ate lunch, and then it was time to head out.

I got there really early, and then was super nervous and anxious about the needles for the half hour plus that I was sitting in the waiting room. I just wanted to get up and leave. I realized later I really should have brought someone with me. Finally I got called in.

And found out that because I had alerted them to my propensity to be allergic to stuff, they didn't need to inject me with anything. I was actually kind of annoyed, lol, because I had gone through so much. But it was a relief. And it was pretty cool. The machine was massive, and there was stuff inside it spinning around and making wooshing noises. The lady who did my scan was very nice. So it worked out.

Now I have films with cool and creepy pictures of stuff inside my head. You can see bits of my skull and stuff. Awesome!

I spent the rest of my day on the couch, completely worn out. My dad came home and took me to dinner and then grocery shopping. I took a nap as soon as we got back, and I've been on my way out since. I exercised my dog on the treadmill while trying really hard not to nod off while sitting up in a chair. It's not even my bedtime yet and I'm ready to crash.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dreamscape Roommate Roadtrip

Last night I apparently knew I was in a dream. I used to do that a lot before medication, but it's been awhile. I decided to take my two college roommates with me into a really cool world that I used to go to a lot. It's a beautiful, mostly wild hilly place, with a river running through it with steep banks, lots of forest and even some prairie. There are houses tucked away in places and a road that winds around through it, with smaller dirt roads that go into the woods. It has magnificent sunsets and you can see a ton of stars at night. I've been there many times, and even though there have been several different incarnations of it in specific dreams the map (which I always have with me) stays mostly the same. I've had a lot of fun exploring there in the past, and figured it was the kind of place my roommates would like (which they would, lol). So we started driving around, trying to find the little dirt roads that led to the more scenic views where we could sit and look or hike around. It was a beautiful, sunny, cool and dry day.

Of course Narcolepsy had other ideas for the dream, and it wasn't long before it started trying to take back control. So the map ended up wrong, and we got lost. I got annoyed because I knew my brain was trying to turn it creepy on us. We saw a couple of houses tucked back in the woods and decided to go ask for directions. As we got out of the car, a couple of older men approached us and started talking to us. Even though they were being a little bit creepy we weren't worried- I knew I was still in control of the dream, and besides that, one of my roommates knows karate so I figured we were safe. I went into the trees to look around while my roommates got directions, but suddenly it got dark fast. It turned into night unnaturally quickly and I knew the dream was trying even harder to revolt. Even though I was now alone in the woods with one of the creepy men (who turned out to have followed me), I still had enough control to prevent it from getting scary. I walked back to the car and we drove off.

One of my roommates was driving, so as she drove us back toward the river I concentrated really hard on changing it back into daytime. It was difficult but suddenly the sun began to rise, and we pulled over to get out and watch it.

If the dream went on after that, I don't remember. I think it probably turned into something light and mixed up and silly. It was cool that I could control it for awhile though.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Firmly In The Closet

The other day one of the guys in my class, while he didn't mean to, really irked me. He saw one of my anthro characters on my notes, and asked me if I know this other student who apparently also draws furries. I told him no, I'd never met this person. And he said, "You should meet him- I bet y'all are soulmates!" Though I wanted to get annoyed at him, I simply said "Oh really?" and then stopped the conversation. After all, while it is a kind of dumb comment, he wasn't trying to be mean. He was just doing what everyone else in this state seems to do- assume that I'm straight.

I'm very gay. I'm gayer than the gayest rainbow, and if you don't believe me you can ask my ex-girlfriend. I'm also firmly in the closet. My close friends know, as do my parents, but all of my acquaintances and other relatives are in the dark on this one, and for good reason. For one thing I still have some issues. And for another, there are certain people who would not be open-minded if I told them and would most likely start trying to "change my mind". So I keep it to myself, which is one of many things that get in the way of any possible romantic relationship. But that's a story for another day.

I was raised in- how do I put this nicely?- one of the most backwards states in America. The whole time I was growing up I was told that I would find a boy, get married and have kids. I never bought the kids scenario, mainly because even as a child I wasn't into that idea. But I bought into the husband, even though I didn't think boys were that interesting. Every year at Christmas we would visit my dad's family, and the grownups would ask me and my girl cousins what we thought of boys. For awhile we all said "Yuck!" And then my cousins started to respond with interesting, or cute, or at least alright. And I stayed on yuck.

I always thought that was weird. I kept waiting to reach that age where I would think boys were attractive, but it never came. Even in my teens I just wasn't interested in the guys in my class. I feel like this should have been a red flag for me, but it wasn't. Everyone had always assumed I was straight, so I didn't even think to question it, and just made excuses.

That whole time I was assuming I was straight, I had massive crushes on other girls. It started in preschool, with this other girl in my class. I thought she was really pretty and I loved her hair. I followed her around because (I thought at the time) I really wanted to be friends with her. I was confused when she was mean to me and I still wanted to be her friend anyway, and I couldn't figure out why my feelings toward her (who I didn't even really know) were so strong.

It kept on all through elementary school. There was always a girl I thought was pretty and wanted to be friends with, and later I would wonder why. In the meantime I pretended to have crushes on boys because all the other girls were doing it- and at the time I remember assuming that they were all faking it too.

In middle school I would have crushes on teachers, which just really embarrassed me, especially when they were female. I would put those thoughts out of my mind and feel really wrong for thinking about them in any kind of a sexual way. I would beat myself up over it because I seriously thought I was just messed up. But still, even though I acknowledged those feelings enough to be ashamed, it didn't occur to me to question that I was straight. And by high school, when I finally first heard about homosexuality, I was so sick that I never thought to ask myself the important questions- I was too busy just surviving.

It wasn't until college that the realization hit me. I met a new friend through a PE class, and she seemed really nice. She invited me to her birthday party. It was really fun, because it was a tea party and all the people there were very friendly. I found out she had a girlfriend, and eventually it came out in conversation that almost everyone there was gay or bi. As I was leaving I thought about how funny it was that I was the only straight person there when I'd never had any gay friends before. And then I asked myself the question, and got an answer that I wasn't expecting. It was like my brain just froze, like it was jammed. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. And then I knew that I wasn't straight, and never had been. And I felt numb and weak with pure fear.

It was several months before I could really think about it again. The whole time I felt like I was in a dream. The fear followed me everywhere. I couldn't understand why I was having such a strong negative reaction to something that was just naturally me, but I couldn't shake it. Part of what bothered me was probably the fact that I was mistaken for so long. I pride myself on how introspective I am most of the time, and that I missed something so obvious for so long was really disturbing to me. But I also am a product of the environment I was brought up in. Though I had never thought homosexuality was wrong, and supported the fact that it's not a choice, it's different when it's you and not someone anonymous. All the things I heard growing up got dredged up again, and I couldn't help feeling like a freak of nature, like something was wrong with me, like I had somehow let my family down by not being "normal". It was hard. And I hid it from my friends for months even though I knew they wouldn't care. I avoided the new friend who had sparked the realization, which I regret because it was mean and I never explained myself later. I crawled into my shell and it took years to pry myself out.

It's been three and a half years now. I'm finally feeling like it's okay for me to be gay, and I've told all of my close friends. My parents know too, and have been very supportive as I knew they would be. I'm almost to the point where I think it would be alright for some other family members to know, chosen wisely of course. But I'm not ready to declare myself to new acquaintances, even as they openly assume I'm straight, and I don't know if I ever will be. It still smarts a little. And I don't want to risk any confrontations because it would be so easy to get hurt. The closet is so much safer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Alien Seahorse Disease

Last night I dreamed that I was watching Stargate Atlantis. My mom had taped an episode neither of us had seen before. It was really bizarre, but in the dream seemed pretty normal for Stargate. In the episode, McKay (the head scientist guy) had managed to catch a weird alien disease that basically caused parts of him to turn into seahorses. Like, the ends of his fingers would start to morph into the head, and then a seahorse body would form out of the rest of his finger and it would eventually detach and swim off. The head doctor was catching the seahorses that detached and storing them in a water-filled container, trying to study them to come up with a cure. Of course McKay was freaking out, in character. At one point the seahorses started coming out of his mouth, and the doctor was worried because they had probably morphed out of important internal organs. They were just figuring it out when my mom came in and started watching the end. I paused it and told her it was a really good episode so she should watch it from the beginning, and ended up waiting on her to come back into the living room so I could start it over. I woke up before I got to see the end.

Today was better. I think I'm finally beginning to recover from working too hard this week. I turned in another finished project today, against the odds. Of course now I have another one to start to work on.

I haven't felt completely here the past two days. I've just been really out of it, and was even having to struggle through writing. But I feel more like myself today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Slow Time

I somehow survived a long class today. I was worn out because of how hard I pushed myself yesterday. Plus, when I use caffeine to get through something, the next day is always harder. Yesterday I needed bubble tea to have the energy to figure out and finish my project, which worked well, but I started today on empty as a result. Luckily I was able to walk my dog on the treadmill again, this time while I sat next to it instead of standing up. I'm so glad I decided to try that because my dog is awesome and it works. A nap during a break in the middle of class also helped, but driving home was nerve-wracking and required very loud music and blasting air conditioning.

Today in my class people were going on about how fast this term is going by and how they can't believe it's already after midterms. But it seems like the opposite for me. Time crawls by, and at the end of the day it feels like I've been up for a week. I don't know if it's another weird Narcolepsy thing, an exhaustion thing or if it's just me.

For about ten years now, my perception of time has been off. Time used to fly by for me sometimes, and was normal speed the rest of the time, until I hit high school. During my freshman year, at the same time I started to get really sick, time began to slow way down. At first I assumed it had to do with how busy and stressed out I was, because high school was a lot harder. I would look forward to breaks only to have them take what seemed like years to arrive. As my health problems kicked in even more and my life became a hazy, exhausting battle to survive, days began to seem like weeks, weeks like months and months like years.

This was agonizing to me because at that point in my life I was constantly focused on making it to the next step. It took me most of college to change my attitude and learn to appreciate the day I'm in right now. At this point I'm pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I just go with the flow and do whatever I can manage at the moment, and though I still think and worry a lot about the future I no longer waste brain space wishing it was tomorrow already. And I just smile and nod when people say they can't believe it's already Thursday or August or 2009 or whenever. I still get regularly surprised when I'm remembering something from this morning and realize that no, it wasn't last week, it is in fact still the same day.

Speaking of classes, I had an online class that was about to start, and initially didn't want to but decided to drop it. I'm barely making it right now and really don't think I need a fourth class on top of everything else. Oh yeah, and I did manage to schedule my CAT scan at the new place for Monday afternoon. Pretty pictures... muahahaha.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wake-Up Call

This morning I woke up really groggy and medicated, and my phone was vibrating on my nightstand so I reached over and picked it up, almost knocking multiple things over, and put it up to my ear. "Hello?" I said, worried about being coherent enough to respond if anyone answered.

Then I suddenly jerked awake, flat on my back. My phone was still on the nightstand. I realized I had just had another random hallucination, and that my alarm was going off. I took my next dose of medication and went back to sleep, kind of amused by the whole thing. And then when I really did wake up to my really-vibrating-this-time phone I didn't answer it because I figured I wasn't awake enough yet, but the fact that my hallucination actually managed to predict the future wasn't lost on me.

I'm definitely feeling the lowered dose at this point. I slept better than usual last night but today was really hard to get through. Part of the problem was that I overworked myself trying to get my Friday homework done, then continued to work past the point when I could tell I really needed to take a nap. And then when I did go upstairs with my trusty Nap Assistant, my dad managed to call me at the worst possible time and woke me up with all sorts of complicated insurance and CAT scan related information. I was too exhausted to get annoyed, which was good because he basically told me I have to cancel my appointment tomorrow and reschedule it with one of two completely separate places. I told him I would just do it later, which he accepted as soon as he realized that he had woken me up. I did get my nap after that, but was still really exhausted and out-of-it when it came time to leave for my night class. I basically just did my best to get through it, drove home to The Lion King soundtrack really loud and then treadmilled my dog instead of walking him again.

I'm actually really glad that my dad thought to go find out about the cost of my CAT scan because it turns out that we would have had to pay over $700 at the hospital where I had my appointment for tomorrow, and my dad found someplace where we ultimately get charged about $500 less. It's even more disturbing when you realize that the hospital actually charges a total of over $2000 if you include what our insurance company has to pay, whereas this non-hospital-affiliated imaging place charges 15 times less for the exact same procedure. It sounds like some twisted evil plot in a conspiracy theory movie, and yet this is our actual healthcare system. Welcome to the United States of America, where we like to make lots of great money by cheating sick people! My medication costs my insurance over $2000 a month, so you really don't want to get me started on this issue.

I'm just hoping I can get my homework done by Friday because it isn't looking promising at this point. I can't afford to overwork myself again tomorrow- I'm staving off another sinus infection and doing too much this week is going to screw me. Surviving class on Thursday and Friday will also be a challenge if today is any indication.

Monday, August 17, 2009

House Drama

This is most definitely my parents' house. Actually it's more my dad's house than anyone else's. It fits him perfectly and therefore makes me cringe. We love each other very much and have a very good relationship, but we're two very (very, very) different people with practically opposite interests and lifestyles. Obviously we also have differing taste in houses. What I mean by that is that I have taste and my dad doesn't, haha. I'm not trying to be mean, but seriously- if you've seen my house you know what I'm talking about.

The outside is very ugly. That's a little less colorful than how I tend to describe its appearance to myself while waiting at the next intersection over and being forced to look at it until the light changes. The first time you see it, it's almost normal looking. But if you keep looking you soon realize that everything from the window placement to the ugly pink brick just doesn't quite work together. It's like a study in bad design or something. The composition of it just isn't visually appealing, and if you care about those things you start trying to figure out how to rearrange it to make it better. To top it off, it belongs to a group of houses that all look similar- only the other houses have better architecture. And there's just too much pink brick involved on the block to be healthy.

The inside is more interesting and quite a bit better as far as architecture, except that this is cancelled out by the fact that the walls are all beige and the trim is a hideous shiny grey color. It's so incredibly boring that I just can't stand it. And of course my dad loves it in all its horrible boringness. At least my mom is on my side about the walls, and we're working on convincing my dad to add some color at least. Just about anything would be better.

But the appearance of the house isn't actually that important. What really gets me is how hard it is to live in. For one thing, three floors is too many stairs for my always-exhausted self. The one thing you don't want to do to someone who is a) tired and b) has to cook almost every meal herself is to put stairs between her room and the kitchen, or between homework and the couch, between all of her art supplies and the tv. Add to this equation a dog who must be carried because he can't get up the stairs otherwise, and who needs to be a couch nap-assistant part of the time but needs to go to the bathroom outside other times. To make this even more fun let's remember that I'm really good at forgetting important things and leaving them places, only to realize later that I left my phone downstairs or forgot to bring down a new trash bag or toilet paper or something else essential. The greatest time to do the stairs is when I run out of toilet paper in the middle of the night, have to trek upstairs to get more, bring it back down all while in some state of drugged sleepiness, hoping that I'm not about to fall down and break something.

As much as I hate the stairs, I've adapted all right- I think very hard before going up or down and most of the time these days I actually get where I'm going with what I need. But once I get upstairs, the kitchen makes me crazy.

It must have been designed for someone really tall. I can't even touch to bottom of the top shelf of the cabinets without standing on something. This makes it hard to get heavy things up and down because I'm not very strong. The layout of the kitchen is annoying because there's a rectangular island in the middle and really important things- the sink, stove, fridge and pantry- on each side of it. So when cooking I end up going in endless circles around the island, and I can't aim myself very well so I can't even count the number of times I've run into the corners painfully. The kitchen is also large and spread out, so you have to walk a lot while cooking. And trust me, I don't need more exercise. I end up more exhausted after cooking than is really necessary. To make it worse is the fact that my mom likes to go on about how great the kitchen is and how fun it is to cook in, when she very rarely cooks anything. I think she likes the look of it more than anything because trust me, it's not fun to cook in. It's exhausting. Trust me, I run smack into that island every freaking day while on my fifth trip around to the fridge.

And let's not forget the wonderful fact that the laundry room is on the top floor. My parents think it's so convenient because it's right next to their bedroom, which is great for them, but it means I have to haul my laundry up two flights of stairs. I've started doing smaller loads more often to avoid hurting myself, and enlisting parental help in carrying things up.

Recently I realized that my eagerness to move out had less to do with a need to feel more independent and more to do with a need to live somewhere that's easier on my body. I grew up in a one story house with a small kitchen, and during college lived in an apartment that was similar. Having everything on one floor leaves me with so much more energy to do other things. It's better for my dog, too. I really miss not wasting precious energy on the stairs all the time.

But as I start to consider the idea that I could be living with my parents for longer than I would like or had planned, I'm trying really hard to appreciate this house more. At the least, it's somewhere to safely live, and it's a loving environment despite the occasional drama. So I've been trying to focus more on what I like about my life here as much as I can- like cable on a nice big tv, watching thunderstorms from the balcony, and the gas stove which works a lot better than anything else I've had. Lately my attempts to feel better about the house have been working, more or less. And I am glad that my parents like it even if their gushing gets obnoxious sometimes.

Maybe someday I'll live somewhere easier, or my parents will find someplace to install an elevator, lol. But until then I'm just going to deal and do my best to appreciate having a safe place to be.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Little Things

I finally got smart this morning and put my dog on my mom's treadmill instead of walking him. He took to it pretty well, though it was pretty funny because he kept wandering around on it at first. We found a speed that he liked, and I stood over him with my feet on either side so I could use the leash to keep him from jumping off. He did some experimenting with jumping up and down while it was going, which was cute. I'm just happy that he wasn't at all scared and got some good exercise. He walked while I stood for 45 minutes and we were both much happier today. I definitely think that this will work at least until there's no longer a hole in the bottom of my foot, and after that I'm thinking I might start doing one treadmill walk and one outdoors walk every day. That way we still get to explore the outside world, but he gets enough exercise and I don't get too much.

Because I didn't try to exercise this morning, I actually had a little extra energy. I still crashed after lunch and then again after errands, but I got a lot of little things done in between naps. I now have food and a mostly clean room, my trash is taken out, and the best part of all is that I'm not flat on the couch for the rest of the day as a result. Not like there isn't still a lot on my to-do list, but I've made a respectable amount of progress today and I'm just happy that it's going so much better than yesterday. Life is much more enjoyable when you're even slightly less exhausted.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bad Day Rant

I had a really lousy day, so I just need to vent.

I started off my day walking my dog a lot farther than was probably wise. He's been misbehaving a little lately because I had a sinus infection for awhile and wasn't able to walk him for nearly two weeks, so he has extra built up energy that comes out every so often as anxiety and dominance. He was getting worse even after I started walking him again, and I got sick of him acting up, so a couple days ago I started taking him on much longer walks. At first it didn't cut into my already low energy level as much as I was expecting, and I was encouraged. He was a lot calmer and more relaxed afterwards which was great. Yesterday it was a little harder for me to walk him long enough because it turned out I was still tired from the day before. Today as soon as he woke up I could tell he was going to have an attitude, so I tried to prevent it with a very long walk this morning. Unfortunately I overdid it and so started my day off totally wiped.

So I'm already running on empty, but I decide to work on my homework anyway. I had just started what seemed like a promising hunt for amusing sound effects for my next project, which I'm a little worried about finishing on time because it will be difficult. My mom came downstairs and started to explain to me that my dad wants to delay my CAT scan (which I had already scheduled and everything) so that he can find out more about the cost and make sure our insurance is going to cover it. He wanted me to wait a couple of weeks. This rankled for many reasons, but the main one is that I'm already feeling the next sinus infection coming on. I don't know if I do want to do surgery, and I'm not going to decide until I have a lot more information, but I think the scan is an important first step and I really want to at least get somewhere towards finding a solution to this problem, which is getting worse every time and already almost caused me to drop a class this quarter. I'm getting more worried every day that I start to feel the next one coming on. So the idea of delaying that really got on my nerves. I'm not saying that taking a closer look at the possible cost of this isn't very important, but I'm trying to actually get something done here to improve my quality of life and my dad has a way of putting the brakes on these things. It aggravates me.

So I started trying to argue for doing the scan sooner rather than later, and dad came down and I have to confess that I exploded at him. I'm exhausted, I'm frustrated, I'm on my way to getting sick yet again, and I'm tired to death of dealing with my stupid health. Plus I've been worrying more than usual lately about whether it even makes sense to think I'm going to be able to support myself someday. All of this came to a head and I took it out on him because he was there and (to be fair to myself) he was standing in my way.

We argued. My mom mediated, and finally I agreed to reschedule the CAT scan for two days later to give him time to sort out the insurance junk. They both went back upstairs, and I was so spent from the arguing and the shouting and over-extending myself earlier that I just sat on my floor and cried my eyes out. I went through half a box of kleenex. Besides being tired, I think I just needed a good cry.

I'm barely into my 20s, at the prime of my life, and I hardly have the energy to take care of my very limited responsibilities. Right now I can't even get my dog enough exercise, and it's not like he's high energy. I'm just so exhausted that I'm barely making it. For the four years since my first diagnosis, I've been waiting around just hoping that someday I'll get better. That something will come along and fix me. And now I'm beginning to realize that the abysmal energy level that I have right now just might be my peak. How will I be doing twenty years from now, when I've managed to acquire even more of a sleep debt? How about when I'm sixty- will I even have the energy to get up? And if this is my peak, and I really don't think I have the physical ability to work full time now, how will I support myself? Working through this realization is very hard for me because I've always had a vision of my future, independent life. And it's beginning to sink in that I may always need some measure of help, financial and otherwise.

When I was done crying I hauled my dog up the stairs so we could watch tv and heat up some lunch. We spent a few hours on the couch, and I was still feeling pretty lousy when I finally decided I just really needed to get out of the house. The house makes me angry because of how everything about it makes my life harder, and I was starting to get upset again, so even though I really didn't have the energy I ran a couple of errands. It took caffeine to get me safely home afterwards.

I took my dog out into the yard when I got home and he started acting up despite the morning's long walk. I think he could tell I was on the point of falling over. On our way inside, to make my day even better, I misstepped and cut the bottom of my foot in what was yet another instance of me not being able to properly tell where things are in my environment. I got inside and realized that the first aid stuff that I needed was on the third floor. So I got to limp up two flights of stairs to take care of it, which I barely managed because I was beyond exhausted at that point. Then I landed on the couch and didn't move anymore.

My dad came downstairs and started making snide comments about the shows I was watching. I did my best to ignore him without being rude. My dog started to really push me more and more, and I could tell he was going to need another walk tonight. And I didn't know what the hell to do, because now I had an injured foot to add to this mess. Neither parent wanted to help, so I ended up taking him anyway and just limping around the neighborhood in pain until he had enough exercise. I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow because he's still going to need exercise and I'm going to have a painful foot for at least the next few days. Thanks, life.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jurassic Park Family Fun

I had another installment in a long line of Jurassic Park-related dreams that goes back many years last night. These dreams tend to be frightening, but I always really enjoy them anyway because let's face it- dinosaurs are just freaking awesome, even as they try to eat you, lol.

There have been many variations, from random extra sequals to ones that were set up like a video game, in which I would die and find myself back a level and have to figure out the tricks to get past a repeat of what had just killed me. I even had a recurring Jurassic Park video game dream that stayed consistent for the year or two that I was working my way through the levels of it, which I eventually won in the end by beating the velociraptors to a reactor thing, which I then set to explode, escaped to a helicoptor on the roof and then flew off the island. But I digress.

Last night I was in Jurassic Park 3, which yes I have actually seen multiple times. It started off the same, with the hang gliders crashing on the island and one of them getting eaten and all that, only it was me, both parents and my grandmother that were going in to rescue them. Instead of a plane we drove over a (really long) bridge to get there. We discovered the nasty mostly-eaten guy (thanks Hollywood, I really appreciated that inspiration there), but then it went off on its own storyline, in which our rescue party was exploring and trying to figure out what had gone wrong at the facility. We forgot all about the hang-gliding thing, and instead were poking around inside this information museum/lab room trying to learn more. One of those not-yet-a-dinosaur Triassic period squatty animals came in and we got up on the furniture so he couldn't get at us. This isn't so bad, I was thinking. There's no way this one is going to eat anybody.

While we were up on the tables a velocirator showed up, like the movie version, not a real-life smaller one. And I was like, oh crap, because velociraptors are smart and fast and agile and full of I'm-eating-you-now win. My family members weren't too concerned, and I quickly realized that the velociraptor was putting up an illusion that it was human so we wouldn't realize what it really was until it was too late. This is a little difficult to explain if you haven't seen the anime Wolf's Rain, which my brain basically stole it from. In Wolf's Rain the main characters are actually wolves, but they have a magical ability to put up an illusion so that humans look at them and see humans instead of wolves. So this velociraptor apparently had this ability, and looked like a teenage girl, but I could totally tell what she really was by the way she was moving. She was holding her hands up next to her chest and leaning forward and walking on the balls of her feet. She also didn't blink at all and held her eyes open really wide like a dinosaur would. It was very creepy, because she also had this dino-esque fixed wide grin. She came up behind my grandmother and put her long hands on her shoulders. I managed to signal everyone without her noticing and when she had wandered around to the other side of the room, we all jumped up and grabbed onto the warehouse-like metal beams in the ceiling and got high enough that she couldn't reach. We stayed up there a long time after she finally gave up and left, too afraid to come down.

After that we found about 30 people trapped in a big room who apparently needed rescuing. We freed them, and then kept all getting split up, but luckily I had a handheld person sensor thing (like in Stargate Atlantis) on my iphone (there's an interesting app for you, haha) that even had everyone's name next to where they were on a map, so we started trying to round everyone up. I was getting frustrated at this task, and increasingly worried about dinosaurs eating us before we could escape with everyone, but then I woke up.

In my personal opinion, it was a little light on the dinosaur action, but I think the Wolf's Rain inspired velociraptor girl is awesome enough to make up for it. I drew her today in my class during a break and I think she just might make my character list. If I have the energy I'm definitely going to draw and color a nicer reference for her, and I'll be thinking about a name.

I actually felt pretty good today. I definitely think the lower dose is helping. It also helped that my class had a long break in the middle of it so I had a chance to rest between my midterm and learning new material. I also got to spend quality time with my dog and went to dinner with my mom, who I haven't seen much of for a couple of weeks. So all in all I couldn't ask for a better day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Knocked Out

Apparently our next door neighbors' air conditioner was malfunctioning very loudly last night, right outside my window. It kept my parents (two floors up) awake for most of the night. Luckily for me, I had my nightly date-rape drug to knock me out. Seriously, I didn't hear a damn thing. I didn't even know anything had happened until my dad asked me about it this afternoon. If I did hear it between doses, which I really might have, I don't have any memory of it at all. Similar things have happened to me before. I've slept through my mom setting off the burglar alarm on accident by getting home late, police being called and coming to our house to stop people from trespassing on our property (and my room is right across from the front door, lol), lots of parental noise including opening and shutting of our loud garage door (my room also shares a wall with the garage), delivery of large furniture which was apparently carried up multiple floors to loud banging and scraping that I didn't even hear, and last but not least a category 3 hurricane.

On the one hand I think the fact that I sleep (read: am knocked out) through just about everything is hilarious. I also like it as a welcome change from my non-medicated REM!Awake!REM! cycle from before, at which anything could and would wake me up and/or trigger paralyzed hallucinating, etc. On the other hand it kind of scares me, because I seriously wonder if I would even hear the fire alarm if it went off. At least I'm right next to an exit? It's also scary because people can come right into my room and I don't have a clue- my dad has borrowed my car keys before without me even turning over. You know it's messed up when you can hallucinate people in your bedroom, but if anyone actually comes in then you don't even know.

As eerie as it is sometimes, I've found being knocked out to be an advantage more often than not. I need all the sleep I can get after all. So keep it up, loud obnoxious noises of the world. I WIN.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It Must Be The Shirt

Last night I dreamed about going to my ENT appointment. It was in a (real life) building that I've had appointments in before even though I hadn't been there in several years, and I recognized the lobby in my dream. I was wandering around the gift shop, food and elevators area because I was so early that there was no point in going up to my seventh floor appointment yet. I ended up talking to random people, who invited me to come eat lunch with them, and I agreed because they were nice and I was bored. I wasn't counting on actually eating there because of my ever-present food restrictions, but ended up with a pretty tasty salad that I ate even though I wasn't particularly hungry. I talked a little but mostly listened to their conversation. Eventually most of them left, but a nice older gentleman was also waiting at the restaurant and I ended up explaining narcolepsy to him. After awhile I ran into a friend who I haven't seen (in real life) because she's been travelling a lot, and I was really excited to see her and we went back to my (old) house to chat and exchange artwork. I never did get to that appointment, lol. Eventually that dream morphed into something crazy about me getting a part-time job at an insane technology museum that I mostly don't remember- except that inside it was a volcano. o.O

Today I really did have my ENT appointment. I also had multiple errands to run beforehand, which I managed alright. I was tired before I even left, but that's life. Like in the dream, I got there very early because it's been awhile since I've been to that particularly confusing part of town. I managed to find it and park without mishap, and when I walked out of the elevator I was a little disconcerted by how exactly my dream had remembered this particular building. Like I said, I haven't been there in awhile- several years, even- but the summer I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy two of the doctors involved were in that building. I was there a lot for those couple of months and it obviously made an impression on me.

Also funny was the fact that random people kept striking up conversations with me- in elevators especially. Usually I'm pretty quiet and people don't do that, but I do enjoy it when people are being friendly. It was hilarious because I had dreamed the same thing. Later on that day, after running another errand after the appointment (and having more random people talk to me) I realized that it was probably my shirt. I was dressed pretty nicely today, since I had somewhere to go besides class or walkng my dog, and I think people picked up on that. I've noticed that when I wear my nicest shirt more people talk to me than when I'm wearing something else. The same goes for skirts, actually. No matter what I'm wearing I always smile at people, but when I look especially nice they're more likely to make small talk.

The appointment (which I did get to in real life, lol) went okay. The ENT was very nice and actually knew about Celiac disease, which was a plus. I did have to explain Narcolepsy to him, which I managed without getting too complicated, and he decided to get a CAT scan of my sinuses so we can really see what's going on (which makes sense, because the inside of my nose is anatomically messed up). He's thinking that the way my inner nose is set up is literally trapping mucus so that I've got a constant bacterial infection going on. Which is probably at least part of the problem. He wants to do surgery to correct it if that turns out to be the case, and thinks that once that is fixed I will stop having the constant sinus infection issue.

I'm a little skeptical that the deviated septum is the only problem, since I have two auto-immune diseases, but I'm willing to hear him out. Plus I want to do the CAT scan because they're so incredibly cool. I figure they'll do my whole head and I get to see my skull and eyeballs and brainssssss.... muahahaha!

That said, it wasn't the best appointment because I had a bunch of questions enter and then promptly leave my head, and there were multiple things that I forgot to bring up that were kind of important. So once my CAT scan results come in I'm bringing a parent as backup, lol. Both of my parents have mostly unmushy brains, and actually think of questions and do smart things like bring lists. So I think next time will go much better in the presence-of-mind department- with an addition of a functional mind to the equation. You know, maybe while they're digging around my nose they should just give me a brain transplant.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crazy Lake Thanksgiving

Last night was certainly interesting. As if having a hallucination about hallucinating a couple weeks ago wasn't enough, last night I had a dream about having an interesting dream, lol. Actually, dreams inside of other dreams have been pretty common for me.

I was swimming in this really interesting lake during my dream-within-a-dream. By interesting I mean crazy. It didn't follow the laws of physics. Instead of the surface of the water being flat with waves like sane, reality water, this lake had water hills that would stay more or less in one spot, and water valleys that had little whirlpools at the bottom. Actually, now that I think about it, the whirlpools were pretty much everywhere- on the tops and sides of water hills as well as in the valleys. I was having fun swimming up and down the sides of these hills with the random currents that were flowing everywhere, exploring a pretty wide area. There were willow trees all along the banks and on islands that were rocky and jagged. At one point I discovered a cave underneath the water and swam down to poke around and explore it. The walls were jagged and I was worried about cutting my feet and hands. I'm pretty sure I was at this lake with multiple other people, and that I knew who they were at the time though I don't remember now.

Then I woke up and found that I was at my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving and that I had fallen asleep while waiting for food to be ready. I went into the other room and found this great big cafeteria-style buffet thing, and a lot of my relatives were already eating. I was relieved when nobody roped me into a conversation because I was hungry. I got a plate and started to put cheesecake on it, but suddenly realized that I had zoned out and forgotten about my gluten-free diet. It freaked me out that I had forgotten because even a little bit of the cheesecake could have ruined my day. Luckily the cheesecake hadn't touched the plate so I could still use it. I started to scout around for possible gluten-free items, and found some black-eyed peas that looked safe, but was a little worried because someone had inadvertantly mixed them with the chili in the dish next to them and I was pretty sure they were contaminated. Looking around I realized that everything seemed to have a bit of something else in it because there were like forty dishes and only three serving spoons. At this point I got a little bit of a couple of things- salad and the black-eyed peas- and decided to just eat them very slowly. I was annoyed at myself for not planning better and having safe food with me.

It turned out to be fine, and my cousins arrived so I had people my age to talk to. I started telling them about my crazy dream, and then got a lot of family gossip from them. I was enjoying myself until it was finally that evening and I started making arrangements to sleep where my alarm wouldn't bother anyone. Despite my best efforts I ended up sharing a room with like five other relatives and was a little worried that I would disturb them when it was time to get up for my medication.

And then I woke up and realized that it is in fact the middle of August and I really didn't need to stress out about sharing a room with anyone aside from my dog, who sleeps like a rock anyway. My brain is apparently still stuck on the swimming thing, which is fine with me. That lake was pretty freaking awesome.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dose-Changing Blues

My doctor raised my Xyrem dose almost a month ago because we were hoping I would gain a little more energy and wakefulness. Since then I've been dealing with a lot of bouncing around between extremes with the occasional nightmares and hallucinations on one side and anxiety, nausea and awakeness on the other. I finally feel like it's settled out this past week, but in addition to being more awake I'm back to my old unpleasant side effects of nausea, lack of appetite and anxiety. I decided over the weekend when I was really anxious that I was going to call my doctor today, but then yesterday I felt a lot better and was vascillating.

This morning I woke up really nauseated and anxious and decided to just call and see what my doctor wants me to do. I figured he would raise my Remeron or lower my Xyrem, and he chose the latter. I think it's the right thing to do but I have to admit that I'm a little annoyed. I've spent the last month dealing with extra junk because of the raised dose and part of me feels like everything I went through was in vain if we're just going to change it straight back. But I know that it had to happen this way because there's no way to know how I'm going to do on a dose without trying it, and sometimes it just doesn't work out.

Another reason I'm miffed is that now I get to deal with the dose-changing extra junk again as a lower it. I could technically wait a few days, but I'm tired of being anxious so I'm just going to go ahead with it tonight. Nothing like medication-induced anxiety to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

I'm also kind of relieved, to be honest. I don't want to be on the highest Xyrem dose, particularly. I do worry about its effect on my digestive system, which was more than dysfunctional before I started dumping salt in it three times a night. Also, I can't quite shake the feeling that I was doing better energy-wise before I raised it in the first place. It's difficult to know for sure about these things when your memory is crap and your brain is a little mushy on its good days, so I could be making this up, but I do wonder. And apparently I will find out in the next couple of weeks. If I can remember to wonder about it, that is. Haha.

When I called my doctor's office today to leave a message I forgot my message halfway through reciting it to the secretary, which was hilarious. I apologized and suggested that maybe they were used to that at a neurologist's office, to which she replied that they get that a lot. At the very least this stuff does give me some pretty good stories.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fashion Police

Last night I actually did manage to get to sleep at a decent hour. I slept pretty well for most of the night. By morning I was tossing and turning some, and had an interesting dream in which I was this life coach person who was helping out people who had gotten makeovers on What Not To Wear. The last part of the show (after the hair and makeup) now featured me giving the person daily life advice and encouragement for the first day after they returned home. There were at least four people I was doing this for, one after another, and the film crew was there capturing it for the different episodes. We kept having to wait while everything got set up, and I remember stressing out about what I was wearing during the filming because I knew Stacy and Clinton were going to watch it later and I didn't want to be their next victim, but all I could find to put on were baggy t-shirts and faded jeans. I'm pretty sure my advice was really random- I remember explaining to one woman that she shouldn't feel bad for spilling a cup of tea at a party because it wasn't her fault and these things just happen sometimes. I also reassured her that remembering people's names is hard and not to feel bad if you can't keep track of them.

This just goes to show that I watch What Not To Wear more times a day than is probably healthy, lol. It comes on at convenient times when I'm sitting down to eat, and it doesn't help that my mom likes to tape it. I've been known to see up to four episodes in a day, more if I'm especially sick or tired. I enjoy it for several reasons that I like to tell myself are good reasons. For one thing, it's interesting to watch people go through a mental transformation in addition to the more superficial, outward transformation. It seems to really help people see themselves as important and gives them a boost of confidence. I also watch it to learn about clothing and appropriateness and how to tell when something really fits. You could say I've been going through my own image transformation for awhile now, and I need the advice.

I was very much stuck in a rut for many of the years I was sick and undiagnosed. I started to collect animal shirts when I hit my teenage years, and continued to buy the same size even as I began to lose weight. I did the same with already baggy cargo pants, and then switched to buying them in the boy's department when I stopped finding them in the girl's. This wasn't because I was particularly attached to my look; it was more because I was living in permanent autopilot and it never occured to me to come up with something else. I eventually got the inclination to come up with a new style when I had been in college for a year or so, but energy was very much a factor. Because of this lack of energy I hated shopping. I thought it was just something I didn't enjoy, but now I realize that I was trying to do too much at once. My mom and I would go to the mall and try to do it all in one sitting- but pretty soon I would start dragging. Nothing is enjoyable when you're about to fall over because you've been on your feet for too long.

It was because of this exhaustion and my bad experiences with shopping for clothes that it took me several years to even really think about changing the way that I was dressing. Once I did decide to change, it was a question of what to change my look to. I did some experimenting and found that I had no idea what I was doing. Finally I went to my aunt for advice, who encouraged me to look in more trendy stores. Since then it's been hit and miss for a year or so. I do feel like I'm starting to figure out how I want to look, but it's come on slowly. I've tried many things and given a lot of it to charity, but one thing I have learned is how to shop. Basically I have to pick a day when I don't have a class, important errands or anything else for that matter. Then I can go to one store, and because I'm standing the whole time I can only really spend an hour there. I usually end up with one or two items, if I'm lucky. Then I come straight home and lay down. The advantage to this is that I officially like shopping now. Trying a few things on is fun, even when I don't find anything that I really like. There is definitely an advantage to knowing your limitations.

I only started watching What Not To Wear this past year, and it's been really helpful in my quest to figure out how I want to look. But I have to admit that I also like it because it's just funny. There's something rediculously entertaining about watching the hosts sneak up on people. What can I say, I can't help myself.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to Reality

Today wasn't much, but it was a heck of a lot better than yesterday. I didn't sleep any better, though I do vaguely remember having interesting dreams even if I didn't remember what they were about when I woke up this morning.

I started off the day totally out of it but less nauseated at least. My dad and I went to get sushi for lunch, which is our weekly father-daughter tradition at the moment, and then took my car to get it inspected and the oil changed. We ended up sitting at the dealership for several hours waiting on it, during which time I took multiple unintentional naps, which actually turned out to be good for me. Dad had a book and I entertained myself on my iphone when I wasn't accidentally napping. On the one hand it was really boring, but it was also tiring. I was pretty relaxed, but sitting up gets difficult after awhile when your default position is completely horizontal.

Eventually we did get out of there, and my car smells all clean and nice and is running better now. It's so shiny- they must have waxed it or something.

When we got home I was feeling much better: more relaxed, but also very here and awake. The outside world felt so immediate and real today. I took my dog out and sat in the yard for awhile even though it was really hot just because I wanted to feel like a part of the world. I've always felt more real when I'm outside.

I didn't do any homework today, but I really needed a break. Sometimes you just need a day or two to chill. I'm not worried about next week anyway, as I should have plenty of time to finish everything.

Maybe this dose isn't so bad after all. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for less side effects again tomorrow.

Friday, August 7, 2009

La-la Land

Well, obviously the new dose is working. Good news, right? Well, I am more awake (which is, admittedly, pretty nice), but my former bad side effects are also putting in an appearance. I can't call my doctor until Monday, at which point I may end up on more Remeron. But for the weekend at least I'm stuck with no appetite, nausea in the morning until past lunch, and perhaps the most fun of all, anxiety. I hate being anxious for no reason. It's just annoying and makes life difficult in ways that life shouldn't be. I end up constantly tense and very shy and nervous, which sucks. But maybe my least favorite thing about anxiety is the effect it has on my sleep.

You would think that, having Narcolepsy, the last thing I would be worried about would be my ability to fall asleep. But Xyrem-induced anxiety actually makes it very difficult for me to fall asleep at night, and for the last four nights or so I've actually ended up staying awake thinking and being nauseated for most of the first of my three doses. The result is that I start losing even more sleep, so I end up more exhausted every day (even more than usual, that is) and totally zonked out. As a result, class has been especially challenging the past two afternoons. On Thursday I failed to eat enough lunch because I was nauseated and all food looked disgusting. I managed to force-feed myself half or so of a lunch, but then when I got to class I was shaky and unable to concentrate. I ended up leaving the room multiple times during the afternoon in order to force down enough rice crackers to avoid becoming completely non-functional. Even so, I only had an attention span for about one hour of four. I tried to focus on working on my project, but was about to fall over by the time I left. I turned up my music on the way home because I was worried about zoning out. Then it was straight to the couch, and I didn't even take my dog on a walk because I was too dead. And then of course I couldn't fall asleep again last night, so when I woke up this morning I knew I was pretty much screwed.

I had another four hour class today, and was only really there for an hour of it. After that it was a constant mental fight to pay attention. I seriously only got a little bit of the material into my head, and when I was supposed to be practicing in class I wound up staring blankly at my computer for minutes at a time. One of my fellow students kept asking me for help with things, and it took all of my mental effort to focus enough to formulate responses that vaguely made sense. By the end of class I was so glad to be out of there. Driving was difficult but I got an icee on my way home which helped a lot.

I'm hoping my doctor will get back with me early next week so I can do something about this. I'm not looking forward to my classes next week otherwise. This weekend's homework will be hard enough.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spiritual Girl

Both of my parents are very ardent atheists, especially my dad, who has probably every book ever written on the religion-bashing front in his collection. You might even describe him as militant- he thinks the world would be a much better place without any religion, and basically believes that religions are the root of a whole lot of social problems and not much else. To be fair, he has a small piece of a point, though in my opinion he overdoes it. He loves to bring up religion with people and debate them on it, especially at family gatherings- which is interesting because his whole side of the family is solidly Christian. Every Thanksgiving when we visit his side of the family it inevitably turns into a politics/religion debate tournament. Dad, remember what you aren't supposed to bring up at parties?

He seems to get a little more extreme in his views as he gets older, whereas I'm the opposite pretty much. As you might imagine, I basically absorbed my parents' beliefs as a child and just parroted them to the world, which is what most kids seem to do. But at the same time I've always been a very spiritual person at heart. While I was copying my parents' ideas outwardly, I was busy making up my own religion in secret.

Thinking about it now amuses me very much because while I thought I had this secret religion that no one knew about I'm sure it was pretty obvious. I had all sorts of daily rituals involving leaves and trees and dancing around outside. As I hit puberty candles and altars were added, and it got more focused on small meaningful objects. At this point it took more of a new-agey turn because of my rather new-agey friends. We used to get together and have ceremonies and make up deep things to talk about. We had an elemental theme most of the time, and of course lots of candles and tea. It was really fun and felt meaningful in a way that I hadn't experienced before.

By then I was starting to feel tired a lot, and I remember when I had to stop the dancing ritual because I almost fainted once and could hardly stand up after the short exercise. I used to dance to specific songs that resonated with me for whatever reason, but even after I stopped being able to sustain a dance for an entire song I kept the concept. I would put a song on endless repeat and draw or think or arrange sacred objects in patterns on my floor by candlelight.

These rituals helped me feel safe even once the hallucinations started. I started to sink into that horrible mental haze full of monsters and paralysis and horror movie nightmares, and I had to find some way to explain it, some way to not feel like I was going insane. I theorized that what I was experiencing was impressions of ghosts, which makes sense if you think about it- the banging and creaking sounds on waking, the feeling of hands grabbing me when I was falling asleep, the intense reality of the nightmares. It sounds like every ghost story I'd ever heard.

This belief got me through a lot. On the one hand, there was a reason for what I was experiencing that made some logical sense, so I didn't worry about being crazy anymore. Plus it made these impressions and hallucinations seem like they were someone else's experience that I was only seeing, but that wasn't directly impacting my life. I kept up my own rituals, sometimes incorporating things from what Narcolepsy was throwing at me, and my secret religion got more complex. And now it really was a secret, because I was a teenager and therefore actually good at hiding things from parents.

When I went away to college I began to question the beliefs I had built up. After all, that's what college is for. About my sophomore year or so I had a total life crisis and switched completely to thinking that I was actually insane. I realized I needed help, but made the mistake of assuming every single spiritually-inclined feeling I had was a result of whatever was wrong with me. This made me really depressed- the most depressed I've ever been, actually, and believe me when I say I've been all the way at the bottom. I fessed up to my parents, who helped me through multiple doctors until I landed in the capable hands of my first sleep neurologist. I was a typical case, minus the cataplexy, and a sleep study confirmed it. I had my answer, but that didn't make me happy.

Completely religionless, then, I left for my study abroad experience in Tokyo. While there I learned many things, including how to be a spiritual person again. I slowly woke up from the haze as the Xyrem started to work on me. And by the time I left, I had a philosophy and spirituality once again all my own. In the years since it's had time to cure a little, and nowadays I think I've pretty much found where I want to be. It's a bit Kung Fu Panda (there is no secret ingrediant, lol), and live-and-let-live, and I've found that I still value nature and the elements and sacred objects. I do believe in something greater, but it isn't quite the same as a god; it's more like a universal feeling of connectedness among living things. I don't see it as sentient, exactly, but it's still very profound to me.

At some point my parents noticed I was diverging from their beliefs. For a little while this caused some tension in the house, but eventually my dad learned not to start religion-bashing tangents in front of me. I've been forced to stick up for myself on multiple occasions when I would rather not, and eventually got it across that I don't approve of the intolerance that some people, on any side of a religion debate, tend to express. So now it's not something we talk about, and that's fine with me.

I'm not sure how I would identify now. I'm no longer an atheist, but I really don't think I need a new label. My own sense of spirituality has always been a private thing, and it will continue that way. I don't feel the need to convert anyone or even explain all this to the people in my life. It's just something to keep close, something that gives deeper meaning to my life and the world around me.

Creepy Old House Party

I had a strange night last night. Well, stranger than usual lol. Usually when I get scared enough in a dream to start to feel paralyzed it wakes me up. Last night it didn't for some reason.

I was at my old house and there were a whole lot of people there- most of them I didn't know. My parents must have been having a party or something. It was kind of annoying to me because the guests kept getting in the way of everything, like constantly taking up the bathroom or preventing me from cooking in the kitchen. It was weird because there were tons of people but they weren't all congregated in the same area; it was like they belonged to smaller groups or were individually wandering around.

There was one guest in particular who really creeped me out. He was very tall and maybe in his 50s, wearing this long white lab coat. He had really frizzy bushy hair and piercing eyes. He creeped me out because he was always looking me over in a way that I didn't appreciate, and then would get this distortedly huge grin on his face. I spent most of the dream trying and failing to avoid him, and every time he managed to find me in a room alone he would grin really huge and it scared the crap out of me. I would start to feel paralyzed like I was waking up, but as the feeling would start spreading from my neck to my back I would shake myself off in the dream and run out of the room. It happened at least three or four times, and it never woke me up- I woke up normally, which for me is always pretty sudden, but I wasn't paralyzed anymore. I still have a clear picture in my mind of the creepy dude staring right at me from the screen porch while I stood in the pitch dark of the backyard where I had gone in my latest escape attempt.

Having the occasional really intense character in my dreams is something I've always done. While I'm asleep they seem like real people. Several of my favorite characters that I've developed into stories of their own came out of a dream to start with. I think it's pretty cool when it happens, even when the character is a really creepy one. So maybe I'll draw him, creepy distorted grin and all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three-Dimensional Day

Today was very interesting to look at, thanks to Xyrem and a little caffeine. The highlight was when I ran an errand and was amazed by the 3Dness of a parking lot. And yes, I would describe myself as easily amused, lol.

For I don't even know how long- possibly more than ten years- my visual world has been pretty flat. It took me awhile, but eventually I figured out that my senses are actually pretty dulled compared to most people. Even though I'm a visual person and my eyes work just fine with a little help from contacts, my brain really doesn't sort the information out very well. The funny thing is that until I first started Xyrem, I didn't have any idea. As a result, I thought it was stupidity causing me to run smack into things all the time. My friends never let me live it down after I ran straight into a pole at school once- then turned right around and hit another one, haha. What's really funny, though, is what came out in drawing classes.

Drawing from life has always been really easy for me, probably because my unusually flat vision translates well onto 2D paper. The bane of my drawing life for a long time, though, was perspective drawing. I could never get it right. I would eyeball the angles, they would look right compared to the hallway or building corner or whatever it was I was looking at, but the finished drawing would have so much depth that I was convinced it was wrong. I would erase and redraw everything to be the right amount of depth, but then the angles were all off and I would get hopelessly frustrated. To make it even more confusing, my too-deep drawings would get the better grades and when I asked teachers for help, that's the direction they would steer me. The whole thing drove me crazy because when I got it right it would look really wrong compared to what I was actually seeing.

Six drawing classes worth of confusing perspective drawings later, I started on Xyrem. I remember very clearly the first time I was awake enough to see something in a 3D fashion- I sat up in bed and looked at my door, which was open. It was jutting out at me really freaking far. I was shocked. I looked around and for the first time in god knows how long actually saw the space between objects. I started wandering around the house, staring at things from different angles. It was a whole new world.

Every time I've raised my dose, I've been struck with a better sense of three dimensions. It's like there are endless levels of it and I keep moving up- and each time it surprises and delights me. My parents are now used to me wandering around staring at stuff and walking in circles around furniture. It really amuses all of us.

By far my favorite thing to look at when getting an upgrade are trees. They completely astound me with how complicatedly 3D they are. In the opposite way clouds are cool because they're subtle enough that I can very rarely see the space around them, but when I do it's amazing.

So today I went to get some bubble tea and came out of the store into a strikingly 3D parking lot with really 3D cars and people in it. It had been noticable on my way in, but the caffeine gave me just enough more awakeness to bump it up a notch. I looked around and smiled at people, doing my best not to look too much like being in a parking lot was the highlight of my day, lol. When driving home I was good and only stared at trees when stopped at lights. Walking my dog was also fun. The sidewalk seemed to go on forever in front of us.

I'm about to hit the highest dose of Xyrem, so the days of amazement will most likely end for now. I will get used to this level and stop noticing so much. But it's definitely something I will never take for granted.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life In The Slow Lane

The good news is that I'm starting to (finally!) really feel better after the sinus infection that had me on the couch for about two full weeks. The bad news is that all that stuff that fell by the wayside as I struggled to get caught up in classes while sick, like cleaning my room and getting my dog more than the very minimally essential exercise, is really starting to bother me.

I'm the child of the world's hugest neatfreak, and definitely inherited some of those genes, so knowing that it's been almost a month since the last time I vacuumed is making me crazy. But while I'm feeling good enough to cook every day and get just enough of my homework done to get by, I definitely haven't had the energy to vacuum. You know, all that standing up and moving around nonsense. To complicate matters, the only really good vacuum in our house is up two flights of stairs, and to top it off I can barely lift the damn thing to carry it down. We got a smaller, lighter vacuum for the first floor, but it doesn't work well enough for how nasty my carpet is getting. And adding insult to injury it makes this horrible high-pitched noise when you turn it on.

So I'm stuck waiting until I have the energy for that. In the meantime, trying to get back on our previous walk schedule is taking it's toll on my energy level. My dog needs quite a bit of exercise or else he starts causing trouble and trying to take over the house. We usually go twice a day for at least twenty minutes each walk, which is exactly the right amount of exercise for both of us (as I'm tired and he's very short). When we're healthy, that is. When I'm not doing so great it gets hard to keep up with it, but I know he needs it so as soon as I start recovering that's the first thing I try to add back into my schedule. Therefore, the cleaning must wait.

Meanwhile, even in my life, which is way slower than most peoples', after two weeks a bunch of silly little things start to pile up and nag at me. I have calls to make, letters I need to write, laundry to do, plus of course homework. But even though I have all these things vying for my attention, I know that the most important thing right now is to get enough rest to continue getting better. Also on that front I now have an appointment with a very good ENT, so now maybe I can actually do something about my almost constant multiple-year sinus infection.

Until then, more rest. Welcome to my life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Murder, I Wrote

Last night I had a pretty scary experience. I had one of my now-rare nightmares, and of course thought it was all real and that I really was inside a murder mystery.

My mom has been into murder mysteries forever. She's always reading mystery novels, and watches shows like Psych, Monk, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, etc. And one of her favorites is Murder, She Wrote. I used to watch it with her growing up, and we've both seen almost every single episode. What I like about it (and, actually, the other shows I listed) is that it's very light-hearted in a way. So it isn't stressful to watch, and it's fun to try and predict what's going to happen since a lot of times the episodes have a pattern. Like how the main character always has some friend who you know is going to get framed, or the fact that any time there's a red-haired woman you know she did it. And every episode ends with what my dad fondly calls the "ha-ha!", in which everything turns out okay and the last line is supposed to be funny.

Normally I enjoy Murder, She Wrote. But last night it wasn't so fun.

It started with me and my aunt staying in a room at this large, vacant mansion. There was (of course) a really loud thunderstorm outside, and it was getting late and therefore pitch black outside except for a couple of porch lights. We were supposed to be there alone, so no one else should be on the property. Our room had a tv on one wall and a sliding glass door without curtains or blinds that opened onto a wooden porch outside, which was illuminated by a porch light. We were watching tv, and I keep seeing movement out on the porch out of the corner of my eye. I looked out and kept seeing shadowy people sneaking past the door and going around the house. I told my aunt and she was totally not concerned and tried to explain it away.

It was strange because I was definitely in the episode, but somehow also knew all about the usual episode pattern- so I could try to predict what would happen. I realized that the shadow people were possible suspects and that a murder was going to take place that night, and we would probably find a body the next morning, and that I would have to remember all the details in order to report them to the police. At that point I was mainly worried about how I was going to remember everything.

We woke up the next morning, and, expecting there to have been a murder I led us in a search of the house. But no one had died apparently, so I decided it would most likely happen during the day as most episodes have the murder close to the beginning. I decided to keep my eyes open so I could have a chance of seeing clues and being able to figure out who did it.

All day, we kept meeting other characters in the episode, the details of which I tried really hard to keep straight, but it was very confusing and I couldn't keep track of who was important and who wasn't. No one died though, and I began to wonder- I mean, a murder mystery with no murder doesn't make any sense. Someone was going to die at some point, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out who it would be.

Later on I decided to explore the expansive grounds. I was looking around in the gardens and trees when it started to get dark and I realized I was lost. Finally I spotted the house, far away. I started hurrying toward it, seriously worried about the fact that this is exactly the time for someone to die. Then I realized I was surrounded. And suddenly I was hit by the terrifying realization that it was me- not one of those other people- who was going to be murdered. The fact that I was going to die in the next few minutes hit me so hard with terror that my eyes jerked open, and I found myself on my back in bed, paralyzed and surrounded by dark shapes of people who I was sure were going to kill me. I tried to move and realized the truth, and slowly and with relief I gained back my ability to jerk my head sideways and fully wake up.

I was very nauseated, very groggy, my eyes kept trying to shut and it took all of my focus to keep myself awake enough to not be immediately plunged back into the nightmare, which was hovering just on the inside of my mind's eye, waiting to suck me back in. I fought sleep with all I had until I was able to reach over and turn on my lamp.

Thank god for bedside lamps. I can't count the number of times that lamp has saved my ass. I sat up and fought more successfully to wake up. It was 45 minutes until time for my next dose of Xyrem, but I knew that without it I would just fall right back into the dream, and I was way too tired to stay awake for 45 minutes. So I went to the bathroom, trying not to imagine people jumping out at me to grab me and trying to shake the lingering fear of imminent death. When I got back I took my next dose early, and fell sound asleep until the morning.

When I woke up I was impressed with how Narcolepsy can make anything, even something as silly as Murder, She Wrote, completely terrifying. Go figure.