Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of One Bad Year, and Now ???

2011 has not exactly been a banner year for me, except on how to burn bridges, go nearly insane from stress and then have my sanity tested in a homeless shelter.

I could say out with the old and in with the new, but I don't really expect the job market to open up come January 1, 2012. That won't stop me from applying to jobs, but I really think I need to concentrate on my writing, on blogging and getting noticed as a blogger and writer. I've heard of people making a living like that, and I'd like to be one of them.

So for me the first week of the new year means finishing the recuperation from my surgery, and probably spending less time playing games and more time writing. Not that I won't play games to relieve stress, but I can't obsess with them like I want to!

No, I'm going to work on various projects, try to find freelance assignments, and hope to keep myself in the shelter long enough to find a permanent place to stay. I'm tempted to see if I qualify for some sort of disability. I have a bad back, which precludes me from working physical labor. I have Diabetes and High Blood Pressure. Could all that net me the 'check' that some other people get each month? Most of them waste it on drugs, though. That's not a problem with me.

I received a gift card from my sister the other day, and took stock on what I really need before I went out and bought anything. So here is a partial list for those who are interested:

1. Pants, any kind, waist 42, length 28-30, the lower end of that if possible, but they are hard to find.

2. A new pair of suspenders. The old pair is getting raggedy. One size fits all. No buttons, just clasps.

3. Underwear, size 42. I have plenty of socks at the moment, thanks for asking.

4. A place to live comfortably until I can get back on my feet. If anyone wants to chip in for an apartment, that's okay with me. I can live in a surprisingly small space. Even when I had an apartment, I spent most of my time in one room, the one with the computer. I'll need Internet access too!

5. A bus pass. 31 day would be delightful, the more the better. They're $36 at Moore Square, or at Harris Teeter stores.

6. Time to write and a list of names of the people who can help me do something with my writing, as in sell it.

7. A year's subscription to Warcraft! Or even a 60 day game card. Some might consider that a luxury, but really, the game helps me relax like nothing else can.

8. If I'm doomed to stay in the shelter, shampoo would be nice. Razors, too.

9. And the most important thing of all: A job. I can do most things writing, I can do customer service, but at the moment can't work from home. I can do most things Administrative and quite a few things with a computer. I don't claim computer perfection, just above average.

10. Ultimately, I'd like to get Project Five-Star off the ground. If enough money comes in it solves the problem of me not having a job, and will give help to others like me as well. I figure $25,000 for starters will get it off the ground and into an office. More money will allow me to hire people to raise even more money. I don't consider this a pipe dream. I think this is workable and sustainable. I'd even accept someone willing to cosign a loan with me to help get this started. But then, that's up to you.

That's all I'm asking for. Some of it reasonable, some a bit unreasonable, but the bottom line is it's not much for those that have money.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Start of a New Story

I have started posting a new series of short stories that encompass a larger story line. I've been playing around with the ideas presented in this story in my head for what seems like years.

A few words of warning over this story:

1. It is highly experimental writing, not just in form, but in content as well. I'm dealing with concepts that might make some people a little uncomfortable. I hope the feedback will reflect that. Don't be afraid to say 'you've stepped over a line.'

2. The story will be told in a series of short parts, covering various stages of the main character's development.

3. Ultimately, there is only one character here who matters, also a bit of an experiment. The characters that revolve around her will change over time, but she will not, at least not for a long while.

4. It is a very looooong story, and will take a long time to write out fully in a form that pleases me. The parts will be short, but there will be many of them. Think Harry Potter and then some, sent out chapter by chapter. Patience will be required!

With all that said, here is the link for Part 1!

Now I tried to submit it to Yahoo Contributor Network, but it was rejected, but only because the editor didn't realize the italicized parts were part of a telepathic conversation. I really didn't feel like arguing with an editor every time I posted something like that. So I'm using Hub Pages, because there is still a chance of getting paid for it. But you still have to read the story for me to get anything out of it!

Thanks for reading and don't forget I need feedback!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just Where Have You Been, Young Man?

I apologize to my regular readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Google+ G+’ers, for my absence the last few days. Let me tell you a story of pain, loss, of comfort and distress, an opportunity lost, possibly another gained.

On Saturday night, just after dinner, I began to experience pain on the right side of my body. At first I thought it was the pie my bunk partner had offered me, something his girlfriend had made. But the pain seemed centered around my right lung. It was never a bad pain, always 3 out of 10, but always there. My first thoughts were that is might be a collapsed lung, or pneumonia. At first, I took some aspirin and tried to ignore the pain. I went to bed early since it was a white flag night and the dining hall was filled with extra men.

I tried to get comfortable, switching between my left side, my right side and my back, but found that none of those positions felt at all comfortable enough for me to sleep. By 10pm I realized the pain was not going away on its own and headed for the front desk to ask them to call an ambulance. I had decided not to take my laptop, since that felt somewhat awkward. Big Mistake!

The EMT’s were polite enough. I’m sure they had seen a number of fake symptoms before, but the woman at the desk told them she believed me. (I rarely complain, except on these pages.) So the EMT’s bundled me in to the ambulance and asked me where I wanted to go. There are 3 major hospitals in Raleigh, Rex, Duke, and Wake Med. I had had several bad experiences with Wake Med in the past, but since they at least had my record on file, I decided to give them one more chance.

The EMT’s took all my vitals, asked me numerous questions, informed me my blood pressure was too high, and took me to Wake Med. Once there I didn’t have to wait in the waiting room. They took me right to a treatment room. I got the same flood of questions that the EMT’s asked, plus a few more from the nurse, and then a short while later the doctor came in. She was pleasant enough, but her first suggestion was to have an ultrasound to see if there was gall stone. Well at that moment the pain still felt like it was in my lung, so the whole gall bladder thing didn’t sit well with me. I wanted pneumonia ruled out.

She humored me and had an X-Ray taken of my right lung, which turned out to be ‘perfect,’ and she didn’t sound a bit surprised. We went over some options, including going home and seeing if it went away, and I chose to get the ultrasound.

Sure enough, there was a stone in my gall bladder. A large one. So the doctor and I talked again about the options and I agreed to talk to a surgeon. Now, lest you think this was all happening quickly, let me explain that by this time it was 4am. I had been suffering from a cold since Thursday. So in addition to the pain of my gall bladder, my eyes watered, I sneezed, sniffled and coughed. Throughout the process, none of those symptoms were ever addressed! The only solace I had was a TV on the ceiling. I still could not rest.

So it was 4am and the surgeon came for a visit. He is an exceedingly nice doctor named Biswas. He explained the procedure to me, the pros and cons, and didn’t need to ask me twice what I wanted to do: The gall bladder had to go!

That decided, the earliest he could schedule me in to get it remove was Monday morning. In the meantime, I was moved to a different room. It was not a regular hospital room, it was technically an observation room. It was small, there were no windows, and only a toilet in the bathroom. It barely had room for the bed and a chair. And, of course, a TV. A better quality TV at that.

So Sunday I spent the entire day and night in mild luxury, kicked back on the bed, still in mild pain, still sneezing, coughing and my eyes watered, being fed by nice nurses (a liquid diet), including a male nurse. The TV had basic cable, and I had control of the remote. I napped for a while. In between instances where the nurses, doctors and dieticians came in to examine one part of my anatomy or another. Being a diabetic, my blood sugar was checked every 4 hours, as was my blood pressure (which had come down without medication), pulse (still going) and my belly. All of this before surgery even happened. The only thing I was bummed about was that I would be missing an interview on Monday. I had left the contact information for that interview on my computer, which I had deliberately left behind. So I couldn’t even call to tell them I couldn’t be there!

Monday dawned and first thing the nurses came in and started preparing me for surgery. Then before I could be fully prepared, the OR called and the operation was pushed back, apparently because of traumas. I had no problem with that. So I waited. And waited.

Finally, around 11am, they called back and off I went to PreOp. In PreOp I was wheeled to an area where two very nice nurses asked me the same questions everyone else had already asked me a dozen times (one of them kept calling me ‘young man‘, though she was probably younger than me), put it into their new computer system, and then let the anesthesiologists come in and ask me the same questions again. I wonder sometimes if they are testing me, or do they really just not share information?

Anyway, I was meeting a whole lot of new people, but the temptation to sell any of my books took a back seat. The anesthesiologist gave me something to ‘relax me’ before I went into the OR. Then explained that I would have a breathing tube stuck down my throat during the procedure, something that kind of worried me, but I’m told it’s standard procedure.

The next thing I remember after that is waking up. Now, I’ve had two other operations and the exact same thing happened to me during those operations. Literally talking one moment then waking up and it’s done. It’s an eerie feeling.

But the job was done! I was less one gall bladder, which one of the surgeons told me looked really ‘sick’ when they pulled it out, so I have no doubt that the right decision was made. I also had 4 holes in my belly, including one through the belly button, which was and is exceedingly sore. I also had a sore throat from the breathing tube.

After a time in PostOP, at around 5pm, I was wheeled back to my room, and had a parade of nurses and doctors come in to check on me. I was told I had 6 hours to urinate or they would stick a catheter in me. I’ve had one of those before. I did not want another one. I tried my best to pee, but could not produce enough to satisfy them, and around 11pm I had the catheter put in.

Now all this time I had been told I would be released on Tuesday, which wasn’t so bad. Other than the catheter I didn’t feel bad. Then the doctor came in Tuesday morning and told me he likes catheters to be in 24 hours before be made a decision to let me go, so while I got another day in paradise, it was with a tube up my penis, a cold, which was slowly fading and bags around my feet that inflated and deflated regularly, which I’m told helps those who are not ambulatory. So paradise came with restrictions.

Now, I’m rather proud of the fact that, other than the anesthetic given during the operation,  I only asked for one other pain reliever the entire time I was there: one Percoset. And that only because of the catheter. I rarely called the nurses. I was not demanding. I always try to be polite. I just lay there and watched TV for the most part. However I wished more than once that I had brought my laptop, since Wake Med has free wifi. Alas, I did not. My laptop or the Internet has all my contact information, so I could not get in touch with my friends in Raleigh. I was alone. And LOVING it! No offense to my friends, but if you had been in a crowded shelter as long as I have been, a few days of relative isolation are a blessing!

But I was worried that they would worry about me.

Wednesday dawned, the catheter was removed after 30 hours, and I found myself without an urge to pee. I was worried, at first, that they’d want to put it back in, but 4 large cups of water later, things started flowing nicely. The last obstacle had been cleared, and I would be released later that day, around 4pm.

The social worker at the hospital had brought me some paperwork about how to get my bill paid as a charity case, and also brought me a bag of goodies and something I had asked for, a winter coat. it was a medium, and I worried that it wouldn’t fit, but though it’s snug, it will zip up! She also got me some gloves and a hat, a few candy bars and some socks. The only thing I didn’t get that I really needed was a razor and shaving cream. Of all the things to cut from the budget! So I have 4 days of growth.  And my beard comes in white. I want to be young again!

I got 35 Percoset tablets at no cost, which I really don’t need. The only time I’m in pain is when I get up from bed, sit up, stand up, bend over and cough (which is a surprisingly small amount of time). So I’m torn with what to do with the medicine. I could sell it in an instant, but would feel exceedingly guilty for that. I’m going to save it for another time.

I was also given a trip pass for the bus ride back to the shelter. I had informed the shelter Sunday what was going on, and had kept them updated. They kept my bed. Since I’m technically still recovering, if I need time during the day, I can stay inside the shelter.

However I knew I wanted to come out Thursday, both to check in with my friends in the internet, and to go to a new job interview! I had a message waiting for me Wednesday afternoon, but my phone battery was too low to call voice mail. When I plugged it in and called, I found that Total Outsource Systems, a former employer, wanted me to come in for an interview for a Tech Support position. So I bummed a day pass from my case worker and first thing tomorrow I’ll take the bus downtown, call TOS about the interview (I’ll dress for it), and access downtown Raleigh’s free wifi, post this blog and then wait at the library for the interview. I’m likely to be tired, but it will be worth it!

So bad things and good things came from my little disappearance. And maybe the best thing of all: a job! Have a Merry Christmas Internet!