gone viral

I’ve had a sore throat for 5 days. I thought it was caused by whatever the precursor to Korean Fan Death is, but when it didn’t let up I booked an appointment with a clinic. I was mostly in “wait and see” mode, but the online doctor requested I go see someone in meat space because she interpreted my blood results as my body trying to fight something off that likely wasn’t related to my slacker heart. Tired of not being able to swallow without making faces, I caved and booked myself in for a prodding.

The appointment was an epic shit show from the beginning. I hate walk-in clinics, but they’re my only real option in cases like this (even though we all know how well that worked out for me when I was trying to diagnose why I couldn’t breathe). Luckily, the clinic I use has an online appointment system so you can skip the wait. I booked myself an appointment last night, but when I arrived, I was told the doctor I was supposed to see wasn’t even in today, and there was an hour wait to see anyone. I was pretty furious at this, because I didn’t exactly want to sit in a crowded waiting room full of sick people – it’s why I used the goddamn booking system in the first place – but I didn’t have much of a choice: my sore throat had progressed in alarming and disgusting ways. I sighed, and took a seat to begin my wait.

.. and that was when an elderly Japanese lady asked me when my baby was due.

I stammered that I wasn’t pregnant, and I know the lady felt pretty terrible about asking me, but it still took all my willpower not to cry in the waiting room. The tears welled up several times, but I held fast onto my towering anger at being in this situation at all to keep them at bay. Finally, my name was called, and I was whisked away to see a doctor for a total of 96 seconds.

She looked at my throat and took my temperature, and came up with a verdict of virus. It’s not the Return of Strep, which is good – I was more than a little terrified that the cycle of slowly dying aloud was going to start all over again – but other than that, everything sucks. There are no drugs they can give me for this. I’m just supposed to wait it out, but in the meantime, I’m in pain and am sad down to my very bones. We’re supposed to be leaving for Seattle in an hour or so, but I don’t know that I should go – technically I’m contagious AND have a weakened immune system, both of which point to a sequestering. I could get other people sick. Other people could make me sicker. But .. I’ll miss Ali’s birthday and partying with people and having fun. I don’t know what I should do.

I’ve never before been asked if I was pregnant, and MAN does that sting. I made it home before collapsing in a puddle of tears, and now I am literally sobbing into some cheesecake. It is perhaps a little clichéd and counter-productive, but if there was ever a time that called for cheesecake, this is it. I am a sad, sad Kimli.

oh, you

In British Columbia, there’s a website called myehealth.ca that allows you to view your test results before you see a doctor. It’s pretty cool, and leads to a lot of Googling to find out exactly what you’re dying of. I had blood drawn yesterday in an attempt to find out why I’m so damned itchy (going on 8 months now, it’s getting worse, and it’s spreading), but before I had even viewed my results I was having an excellent time:

I forgot my password. No big deal, that’s what password reset functions are for. Submitted my email address, got the recovery link, opened it. Website wants me to verify my identity by answering a security question.

“What year did you graduate high school?”

Okay, that’s simple enough. Enter the year, and click OK.

“Incorrect, please try again.”

Well, shit. There’s only one answer to this question, and I know I didn’t enter it wrong. What could it be?

Hmm .. I wonder.

“What year did you graduate high school?”

I typed in “I didn’t”, and pressed enter.

“Thank you! Please enter a new password.”

Past me is fucking hilarious!

I’ve been trying to keep myself away from my blog, because I’m not very much fun to be around at the moment. “I’m itchy” seems like such a small thing, but when it’s a third of your body, intensely uncomfortable, and nothing gives you relief .. well, you’d be pretty cranky too. A great man once roared at the top of the stairs “I’M AT MY LIMIT! I’M AT MY LIMIT!”, and that’s me right now. I’m quite figuratively at my wit’s end, and have sobbed myself to sleep more times in the last few weeks than I’d like to admit. I’m hoping that my blood will show that I’m full of bees or something, but I’m far more terrified that it’s not going to show ANYTHING and I’ll be told that nothing can be done to ease my extreme discomfort. I think people who avoid going to the doctor generally fall into one of two categories – those who are afraid something will be discovered, and those who are afraid nothing will corroborate their symptoms. I’m in that second camp. Don’t tell me my itching is nothing, I have dozens of bloody welts that beg to differ.

I still have some Googling to do, but so far my blood says I have too much potassium, slight lipemia, and high C Reactive Protein sensitivity. I also have a high white blood cell count, a teensy bit more RDW than the norm, too many monocytes AND lymphocytes, extra neutrophils, and too much ferritin. I have no idea what any of that means, but the internet tells me all those things could be elevated due to …….. a viral infection. Which is what I have in my heart. So yep, that checks out.

A running theory about my itchiness (other than the penicillin allergy) is that it’s just my body overproducing in response to all the bad shit going down. I’m not a doctor, but those results seem to lean heavily in that direction. Unfortunately, that’s the diagnosis I’m most afraid of because I don’t know what, if anything, can be done to make my cells stfu and calm their tiny cell tits already. Antihistamines do jack shit, so this isn’t a traditional allergy. I dunno what it is. Perhaps I will let someone who can actually read those results tell me what the dilly is, instead of wildly gesticulating about my fate.

So itchy.

How’s by you?

+voice

This article made me laugh: it’s Liam Neeson‘s famous speech from Taken re-written in the style of seven famous authors, from Dr. Seuss to Chuck Palahniuk. I love exercises like this, because it drives home the whole point of The Voice (not the TV show) – something I encourage people to develop in their writing to set themselves apart. Having a voice and knowing it is a powerful thing – most popular authors write in a very specific way. Hell, even ones who aren’t popular. Like me! I have a voice. It’s not that great, but it’s mine and I kind of like it.

If you need a refresher, here’s the original speech:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money; but what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career; skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t…I will look for you…I will find you…and I will kill you.

Just for fun, here’s the speech re-written as one of my own blog posts:

Who are you? Seriously, dude. I don’t know a) who you are, or b) what you want. What I DO know:

  • I’m poor as hell (so if you’re looking for ransom, you are SOL)
  • I have mad skills (because I’m awesome)

No, really. I’ve been in this business for a long time, and when I wasn’t making a spectacle of myself, I acquired some skills that make me a pedantic nightmare for people like you. Gauntlet: thrown down, bitch!

So clearly, you should let my daughter go (now would be nice). If you do, super! That’ll be the end of all this .. unpleasantness. I won’t look for you (my eyesight is lousy), I won’t chase you (outside sucks). If you don’t, though .. well, I WILL look for you. And because I’m awesome, I WILL find you. And then?

I will totally kill you.

Hah! I make me laugh.

nimbyism

Across the street from my home is a hotel that has been converted into social housing. People in the neighbourhood have had their collective panties in a bunch since the plan was proposed, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better – the housing has been in operation for almost two years now, and every communication I receive from the neighbourhood speaks of the housing as though it’s the source of all evil in the world.

The truth of the matter is that crime and police incidents have dropped in the area since the housing opened. There have been far fewer random occurrences that require police intervention since the hotel was converted, but no one is paying attention to that – they’re too busy actively looking for ways to close the shelter down and put people back onto the streets in the name of “thinking of the children”. If they truly wanted to set a good example for the children, why not teach them that everyone deserves a home and that some people need help? People in the neighbourhood have been quoted in the news saying “we believe in social housing”, but it’s painfully obvious that their sentences end in “.. just not in our neighbourhood”.

According to the organization that runs the place across the street:

[The former Ramada Inn] is a 40-room transitional housing centre, operated in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society. These buildings have adopted a Whole Life Housing approach to wellness which features: affordable rent; assistance with addictions and medical issues; a breakfast and community kitchen program; housekeeping services; employment support; free laundry; and, an advanced pest control and room maintenance program.

Oh, the horrors. People living near us, learning how to become productive members of society. Recently, it was announced that the city is trying to make the housing a permanent thing instead of the temporary solution it was initially proposed to be. Naturally, people in the neighbourhood are panicking, thinking no doubt of how they will possibly explain the lower crime rates to their children. I’m really disgusted with most of my neighbours – who the hell are we to interfere with other people having a roof over their head? What makes your home so precarious that the thought of someone different than you living nearby puts it into actual peril? The people in the housing program have waited for months or years for the luxury of a stable home – they want to be there, they’re getting help to overcome their issues, and they want to be a part of the neighbourhood. Remind me again how that’s a bad thing?

The emails I’m getting from the neighbourhood association are just the best. In the last few weeks:

  • I received an invitation to the Community Block Party that excluded both our building and the social housing across the street, but we were given an exception and extended an invite
  • A neighbour had an incident with a housing resident. The last line of their email was a threat: “If I ever have another experience like this or hear of another neighbour who has,  I will immediately resign from the [community alliance] and will become a strong opposer instead of a supporter.”
  • Someone living in my building sent a list of all the times and dates that police, fire, or ambulance vehicles were at the hotel over the last six months, and demanded an explanation for each incident (holy fuck are you kidding me)
  • People are freaking the fuck out over the marijuana dispensaries, with emails like (everything [sic]): “I personally find it extraordinary that the Mayor thinks he can trump Federal law. And I am sick and disgusted over what the blocks of xxxx-xxxx East Hastings look like, and the businesses they support. Not only do we have at least two pot shops.. I refuse to call them dispensaries, but we have the Ramada social housing and we have the government office where social assistance cheques are picked up.” GASP! WON’T SOMEONE REFUSE TO THINK OF THE HUMANITY!
  • Everything the “community association” does is because “if we don’t do XYZ, the housing will become permanent”

Gross. Truly, horribly, gross. I don’t understand people at all. HOW can you be so against someone having basic human rights? For that matter, how can you be horrified that there are heavily regulated, no-minors-allowed weed stores in your area, but not give a rat’s ass that men are buying sex next door? People have gone on record saying they’re worried that the screened and monitored housing residents will include pedophiles looking to diddle their children – why aren’t they worried about the guys getting hand jobs instead? After all, the massage parlour closes at ten pm. What if someone come by at 10:30pm wanting a bbbj and ass-play only to find the parlour closed .. but little Jimmy and Susie are hanging out in the McDonald’s parking lot, and they got real purdy mouths? Why is no one concerned that someone going by the name “sex monster” is thinking about visiting the parlour and wants to know if the girls are any good? What if that person is truly a monster and goes all Godzilla on the precious neighbourhood? What if they’re Ed Gein? No, who cares about any of that – let’s instead threaten the people across the street who are simply trying to make a home for themselves. Makes perfect sense to me.

Do you want to know the biggest impact the housing across the street has had on me, personally?

It no longer makes sense that my wireless networks are called “Ramada Wireless” and “Ramada Guest Wi-Fi”.

That’s it. Oh, and no one threatens to snip my spine on a regular basis. It takes some getting used to.

NIMBYs, you are fucking disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

update my heart

I’m still alive!

After a battery of tests last Thursday, I had an appointment this morning to go over the results. There were a lot of complicated words and assurances that my liver has not fallen out (more on that later), but the bottom line is that my heart is operating at 35%.

As terrifying as that sounds, it’s actually an improvement! When I dragged my half-dead ass into the ER, I was actually much closer to three-quarters-dead: my heart was operating at 20%. The drugs I’ve been taking and my steadfast, noble refusal to run any marathons no matter how tempted I am has brought me UP to half-dead, which feels pretty good (so that should give you some idea of how terrible 3/4 dead really felt).

Because I have ovaries and also am not a cardiologist, math is hard. It took some mental gymnastics to figure out my Ejection Fraction, which is not only a thing but also the name of my death metal Starship cover band:

Ejection fraction is usually expressed as a percentage. A normal heart pumps a little more than half the heart’s blood volume with each beat. A normal LVEF ranges from 55-70%. A LVEF of 65, for example, means that 65% of the total amount of blood in the left ventricle is pumped out with each heartbeat. The LVEF may be lower when the heart muscle has become damaged due to a heart attack, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), or other causes.

An EF of less than 40% may confirm a diagnosis of heart failure. Someone with diastolic failure can have a normal EF. An EF of less than 35% increases the risk of life-threatening irregular heartbeats that can cause sudden cardiac arrest (loss of heart function) and sudden cardiac death.

That cheery information comes with a handy chart:

EFM

you could be getting down to this. irregular. beat.

It always comes as somewhat of a surprise to me just how REALLY FUCKING SICK I WAS/am, because I am adorkably naive when it comes to my own person. I’ve honestly just been going about my business as usual and treating all of this as a minor annoyance like a cold or not enough ice cubes or my handmaidens missing a spot when they anoint me with fragrant oils, but I guess it’s much more serious than that. I mean, look at that chart. I am at risk of life-threatening irregular heartbeats! That doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

As of today, my heart is ejecting fractions at 35%. That is officially one half of normal, so it’s not great by any stretch of the imagination .. but it’s so much better than where I was, so things are looking good. The meds are doing what they’re supposed to, Doc Awesome is pleased at my progress, and he doesn’t know why the hell I’m so itchy all the time either.

Apparently, most heart failure patients have their follow-up ultrasound done 6-9 months out. Mine was done pretty early, but I’m glad it was – this gives me a good idea of where I’m at (and also a much needed reminder that it’s okay if I feel lousy sometimes because I am really for real sick and not just a big baby for not powering through it). I’ll be scheduled for another one come January.

The only real downer news from the appointment is that I’m going to be married to this old person pill sorter for the foreseeable future – I’ll be taking this delightful assortment of medication for something like 18 months. That’s insane! At least my medic alert bracelet investment won’t go to waste, though. That’s good.

I was completely a little worried going into the appointment this morning, because it felt like the ultrasound took an inordinately long time. Ramon the Technician prodded at me for what felt like hours, and seemed to be rescanning certain areas repeatedly while peering at the screen with a furrowed brow. That’s disconcerting at the best of times, let alone when you’re waiting to find out where you sit on the scale of one to dead. However, I’m pleased to report that I’m very slowly but very surely getting better. Hooray! Unless you hate me, at which point I apologize that I’ll be sticking around for some time yet. Sucks to be you!

but no one hates me because i'm awesome, right? :(

but no one hates me because i’m awesome, right? :(

 

the good ship pointy dong

Yesterday we went penis sailing:

totally a penis

totally a penis

It’s a little Lara Croft circa 1996, but it’s clearly a penis. And it was totally unintentional, too – we didn’t realize the route we took until we looked at the GPS-dealie when we returned to dock. Pointy cocks: they’re always on our mind.

It was Ed’s birthday yesterday, and we spent it in an excellent fashion: on Renee and Damian’s boat, sailing around the Burrard Inlet like fancy people. Ed and I had originally planned to take the Sea-to-Sky Gondola up a mountain for some epic views and bears, but a pulled hamstring (his, not mine) put a limp in our plans. R&D had already planned to go sailing, so we asked if we could join the three hour tour.

I spent most of Saturday night chopping vegetables in preparation for the voyage and also in a misguided attempt to soothe myself with knives – after a fun breakfast and long scooter ride, our collective day went to shit via a spilled container of sour cream and a cat-traumatizing fire alarm. It wasn’t planned, but I was That Person on Sunday .. the one who brings vegetarian and vegan dishes to a bbq. Not really necessary since all ten people on the boat were shameless meatigans, but delicious all the same: Vince Dip and Mango Salsa make any occasion an extra good time.

The gondola will happen another weekend, but we had a fantastic time on the boat all the same. Ed had a good birthday, which is the most important thing – he’s not a fan of big showy displays, so a low-key penis sail was just the thing.

That being said ..

I’m surprisingly bad at shedding my cool, detached cynicism and showing genuine affection for those I love, both in meatspace and online. I am not sure why this is – probably because I am just that super cool – but I’ve been actively trying to shed my surprisingly prudish and aloof ways. So!

Happy birthday, Ed. Here are some of the reasons I love you:

  • You make me laugh even when I don’t want to
  • You bring me drinks whenever I ask, and sometimes even when I don’t ask
  • You are ridiculously generous
  • You still smell good, even after a million years
  • You never eat all of my candy stash
  • You let me have the spare room to house all my ridiculousness, even though you work from home
  • Watching you interact with the cats is adorable (but I still don’t want babies)
  • You don’t want babies either
  • You accept my nonsense as simply who I am, and you still chose to stick around
  • You care about things
  • You’re the best pigeon rescuer I know
  • I love our actual conversations, the ones we have when we’re done being silly
  • You get it. This one is harder to articulate, but it relates to the point above. When we talk about feminism, sexism, racism, and more, you totally get it and that makes me so proud of you I could burst.
  • We are very alike in a lot of ways, but the ways in which we differ make my life better and I love you for it

*squish*

also: boners

chipset

When we were in Seattle a few weeks ago, I found this in a parking lot:

“my grace is enough for you” well *someone* thinks mighty highly of themselves

It’s kind of depressing to think of the various scenarios that could have resulted in someone losing or discarding these. However, I didn’t find the chips in the parking lot of a bar or liquor store .. I found them outside a Panera Bread. I’m somewhat less saddened by the thought of someone struggling to recover from carbohydrate addiction, not being able to take it for a second longer, and throwing it all away for a delicious sandwich. Oh, yeah. That’s good sandwich.

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