insufferable? stereotypical? completely valid?

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have problems with anxiety.

*snort*

No, really. I know I’ve had major anxiety episodes in the past, but in my head I had equated “anxiety” specifically with those actual, textbook panic attacks. I think there was even a paper bag involved, once.

It’s only recently that I’ve realized I’ve suffered from some significant anxiety this ENTIRE TIME – like, if I thought I’d been going from 0 – 10 to rate those attacks at a 6 or 7, but I’d actually been going from 5 – 14 the entire time – and I’m just starting to understand how and why I’ve been feeling so .. introspective lately. This is going to sound exactly how it sounds, but I’ve been figuring out the insanely buried truths behind some fundamental aspects of who I am, and it. is. fucked.

Two specific examples from the last 3 months sort of kicked this all off. I have had full-on sobbing in a heap ugly cries borderline hysterics that were really unusual even for me lately, and I’d been thinking about them: a) when my bloodwork came back from a routine checkup was so bad that I was sent to Every Specialist including a cardiologist and had to do multiple overnight tests and my upcoming echocardiogram, and when I received the letter from BC Health saying I qualified for an early COVID vaccine because I’m extremely clinically vulnerable. Both times, I melted the fuck down entirely. I sobbed so long and hard I gave myself the hiccups. I was a snotty, horrible, mess for hours. It sucked.

It wasn’t until I read this article that it dawned on me that my extreme reactions to potentially unsettling – like, not even actually unsettling, but something that might turn out that way later – medical things isn’t just a run of the mill worried about the spectre of death sort of thing, but actual PTSD from my 2.5 Major Medical Issues in the last several years.

I know I pretend to be a smart person, but I am really quite dumb. The article and existence of medical trauma make perfect sense to me, but I legit thought I was having some sort of psychotic break. I was scared by and of my reaction, which was to a reaction in the first place, so this was like Inception-levels of meta brain shit.

That stunned epiphany has actually changed how I handle these things. I can tell when I’m about to lose my shit, and either calm myself down knowing that I am not actually this scared, or warn Ed I’m about to erupt in a totally non-pornographic way and to please help me cope.

It’s not always successful, of course. Right now, I’m worried and anxious af because I’ve had NO reaction to the second Pfizer dose I received on Friday afternoon. Everything I’ve heard from friends and internet strangers alike is that the first Pfizer dose is pretty mild but the second one knocks you on your ass. I didn’t have much of a reaction to my first dose, so I prepared for a thorough ass-knocking – like, did groceries, got my affairs in order (look, it’s a work in progress), made sure Ed had enough things to eat over the weekend, stored up an ample supply of Diet Coke and chicken noodle soup – and yet I’m fine. Went out yesterday afternoon, did a bunch of errands, made neighbourhood queso. Okay, maybe day two is the worst and I’ll really feel it tomorrow? So far today I’ve made blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast, cleaned out two kitchen cabinets and two drawers, ate some queso leftovers in my balconic oasis to the tune of a Broadway showstopper, wrote up some self-serving psychobabble, and made several smaller, less life-changing epiphanies about Greek yogurt and Tupperware lids. I’m supposed to be sick and miserable. Why am I not sick and miserable?!

What if I didn’t actually get the vaccine at all? What if I’m not actually protected from covid?

What if my slight headache and extreme weariness ARE my symptoms, and I’ve been having them all along?

That doesn’t seem right, as I’m not suffering all that much so I must have done something wrong and I’m still vulnerable.

.. and why am I worrying about whether I’m suffering enough to be deserving of the label of “having symptoms”, anyway? This is one of the reasons I also didn’t think I “deserved” to think I was suffering from PTSD, I’m just a stupid broken baby who can’t handle minor life stuff.

Yeah, it’s been an interesting few months.

Did I say interesting? I meant exhausting.

I honestly can’t tell if I’m just being good ol’ Insufferable Kimli, if this is a stereotypical stoner line of thinking, or if it’s a valid realization.

Up next: why I can’t watch TV, and why I hate sharing my age!

doom and gloom

It’s been a hell of a week.

After a luxuriously long weekend, I awoke on Tuesday ready to take on the world. First up: a call with my cardiologist! Okay, not what I was hoping for, but away we went. I have to go back in for an echocardigan, and next week I get to wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours. Turns out my heart is somewhat all fucky again, spiking randomly for no apparent reason and beating way, way too fast. That is .. not good. Thumbs up, heart. You have ONE FUCKING JOB.

The face crud I was left with after my ophthalmologist appointment 12 days ago is FINALLY starting to clear up. I had to resort to basically moisturizing with an antibacterial ointment for my skin to stop flaking and hurting, but I’m at a point now where I can go outside and not scare children or the elderly. It was a miserable not-quite-two-weeks. I’m looking forward to using normal moisturizer again.

On the vaccination front, I’m officially a Pfizer baby. I got my first dose on Wednesday night, and it took about 20 minutes total (with 15 of those minutes just sitting in a chair as they make sure you don’t keel over and die after you get poked). I spent the time talking about cats with a delightful volunteer who estimated my age to be around 24. I would basically die for her at this point. Just sayin’.

Overall, I feel .. okay. I’ve heard that the second and third days after your shot are the worst, and I’m definitely feeling kind of cruddy today (which, to be fair, could also be caused by my EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT and/or the fact that I haven’t really eaten today). No sign of any super powers emerging, which is disheartening, but I’m more concerned at how incredibly slow the Canadian rollout is. I’m glad my US friends have their shots, but most of them seem to already have their next round scheduled for sometime within the next month (and some have already had both doses), when Canada is barely at the 65+ age group. I’ve been saying for months that the US is going to close the border to Canadians before we get around to opening it back up again, and with the CDC’s travel advisory against going to Canada in place, it’s just a matter of time. It’s frustrating. Every day the people in charge of getting BC sorted make baffling, insulting decisions: open the churches! open restaurants! oh wait we’re up to 1250+ new cases a day? okay, close the restaurants! except if you sit outside, then that’s fine. And also outside still counts if you put a tent around it. And people between the ages of 20-35 are to blame for everything, and also aren’t eligible for vaccines yet even if they’re a frontline retail worker. Don’t worry! We got this, everyone just needs to dig deeper! And if we don’t, our leadership will shake their heads and be very disappointed, but what else do we want them to do?

Basically, we’re fucked. It’s hard to keep optimistic about this. I want Ed vaccinated, I want my friends vaccinated, I want my entire fucking country vaccinated. I want my life back. I want YOUR life back. My rage has never been this impotent and I didn’t get that flavour a Pfizer shot so I’m just stewing helplessly.

This is a much less fine Friday than last week. It’s grey and gloomy outside, and my mood is no better. This is not the exciting future we had envisioned, and no amount of fairy lights will make things better any time soon. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to try, but my heart really isn’t in it (because it can’t keep a fucking beat, apparently).

a pretty place from which to watch canada crumble

i’m (not) okay

Nothing takes the wind out of my sails like receiving a letter stating that I’ve been officially declared as clinically extremely vulnerable and as a result I’m eligible to receive my vaccination sooner than my allotted age group.

On one hand, cool! Vaccines for me!

On the other hand, I feel like I’m about to keel over and die any second and the only person unaware of my impending implosion is me.

I have a relatively small list of fears: tarantulas, children, children tarantulas, and my own mortality. I am paralyzed with fear when I think that I could die any second. There’s so much I would miss out on – I don’t know what any of it is, but I guarantee that I’d rather be alive for it than otherwise. The thought of either Ed or myself shuffling off this mortal coil absolutely scares the fuck out of me, and every time my doctor calls me to send me off for more mysterious testing, I completely shut down and just can’t function. And then, true to my nature, I start worrying about all of my stuff that someone’s going to have to deal with. And all my passwords. Who will manage my passwords?!

They did a full blood panel on me several weeks ago, the results of which were apparently so alarming that every specialist in the city has been alerted to the walking medical conundrum that I represent. I had to do an exercise test that I spent most of a week scared shitless about (mostly thanks to Ed confusing “exercise test” with “athletic endurance test”), complete with having to wear a heart monitor overnight because I have such a lack of natural rhythm that even my heart can’t keep a beat. I haven’t heard anything about the results. They’re sending me to be blinded by science on Monday with an ophthalmologist, and I’m supposed to get a call from a hemogoblinologist soon so they can look at my blood with lasers. I don’t know if this is all just routine testing – my doctor literally phoned in the appointment – but every new test they send me on throws me into a spiral of fear.

I want to see this new status as a good thing because I’ll be protected from the ‘vid that much sooner, but I can’t see it as anything other than forewarning that my fast lane lifestyle and the hard partying I haven’t yet gotten around to is finally catching up with me, and I’m falling apart in fast motion.

Literally the only thing I have to do in this world is keep myself alive, and I’m failing miserably at it.

There isn’t enough pot in the world to help me deal with this. I’m fucking terrified.

at least this made me laugh

isolation report day 26

Still around. I keep running out of clean pajama or pajama-like items. It now takes over a week to build up a decent load of laundry (not that I can really be bothered with doing it one way or another), because when you don’t leave the house you don’t really get dirty.

I came to an uncomfortable realization last weekend: Ed and I might hit the isolation wall sooner than we expected. We’ve been self-isolating for over three weeks at this point, when a lot of the world is just getting started – hitting three weeks felt like a big milestone, but nothing actually happens: you don’t earn your freedom or see new people or get to go to the store unfettered. There’s simply no end in sight. It just .. is.

It’s depressing, but it helps to know we’re not in this alone. Every other person is (or damn well should be) coping with the restrictions as best they can, and we have it so much better than many people that it’s hard to wallow. I let myself have little pity parties, but I try to keep them from leaking out.

It’s not all bad, though!

Unexpected Quarantine Positives:

  • Nail polish has become a quarantine essential. All this “no touching your face” has me not biting my nails, which are now long enough to paint in fun colours. Not well, but still. Fun colours!
  • We did a full inventory of our pantry and freezer, tracked in a spreadsheet for extra anal goodness
  • Unable to use vacation time or savings for anything good, so they’re amassing at a decent clip. I’m not at the part where it’s fun to fantasize about where we can go after the apocalypse, but I assume I’ll get there eventually and want to start planning things.
  • World’s slowest and laziest spring cleaning
  • Digging through my closet to build interesting isolation wear outfits is fun and also ridiculous
  • Unlimited time for Animal Crossing!
  • Diet Coke is still in ample supply, and going out to get it feels like an epic side quest Yesterday’s loot drop included 3 cans of tuna, a loaf of bread, and a bunch of meat to restock the freezer.
  • Ridiculously happy cats
  • Saving money on gas and cleaning and entertainment and everything else we’re not buying, because most of my online purchases go to the US and I can’t collect packages now so it’s not nearly as fun to order things when you don’t know when you’ll actually receive it

Going outside to get supplies is super nerve-wracking, and every time we come back (we only go out one at a time) we’re hyper vigilant about any possible illness symptoms. It’s mostly just an exercise in worrying because I don’t think signs of COVID show up within an hour of being in Other Places. We successfully completed post-travel isolation without any symptoms, which is good. I try not to worry about how long we can keep that up.

2020 is fucking weird.

square one

I didn’t realize how much significance I placed on being symptom-free for my entire quarantine.

Yesterday was the 14th day of isolation. We celebrated by getting on our bikes and riding to the corner grocery store in search of supplies, which were plentiful – it’s a corner store that only sells produce, with a tiny selection of dry goods and dairy. I wasn’t able to get any eggs, but everything else was in ample supply. Okay, I had to get off-brand corn nuts, but the apocalypse is no time to be choosey.

The trip to the store and back again was completely uneventful. There were several other people in the store, but everyone kept their distance and no one coughed on any of the apples. The closest I got to anyone’s danger hole was the cashier, who was wearing a mask. We washed and sanitized our hands as soon as we got home with our loot, then went out on our bikes again for an even longer ride – it was gorgeous outside, and the perfect day to stay the fuck away from other humans.

However, today I am freaking the fuck out. I feel like even being within shouting distance of other people yesterday was a super bad idea, and I’m terrified that I now have to begin my 2-week isolation all over again. I have no new symptoms (I’ve had the sniffles for about 20 years due to allergies), but my brain is screaming that I’ve caught COVIDs 1-19 and every one of them is going to make me suffer all the way to death. Ed keeps telling me I’m being silly, but I can’t help my fears. They are big and loud and scary and I could actually die from this fucking thing and I went outside and now I am dooooooooomed.

Seriously, though. How do you quarantine your fear? I was doing so well,  but that 14-day milestone was more important to my brain that I assumed. The thought of simply existing and waiting another 2 weeks for symptoms is hugely overwhelming, and I don’t have enough edibles to keep the anxiety at bay.

isolation report day 12

I’ve been self-isolated since the 7th, only venturing out once for supplies like a manic squirrel (who still had enough common squirrel sense to not hoard acorns or toilet paper). I was pretty dang worried, to be honest – I am immunocompromised for half a dozen bullshit reasons, we were on a plane for 9 hours, our travelling companions were both sick with nasty colds, and I looooove touching my face. I’m about halfway through the recommended isolation period (I’m going with three weeks because I’m a keener), and I haven’t had any symptoms of anything, really. A couple of hair-related headaches, some wicked cramps, and I nicked my leg while shaving, but no fever or tiredness or coughing.

have been experiencing fits of rage over work, but that’s a whole other issue.

Our supplies are holding steady. We resorted to food delivery last night because someone (me) was too high to cook, and it was pretty awful so we likely won’t be doing that again. We may need to attempt a covert operation in search of perishables and some of the more popular snacks, but our pantry and freezer overfloweth. I’m comforted by this now, but later in the day when I remember we’re out of Pringles and Corn Nuts, we may have a problem.

My supply of edibles is still vast, but I’ll definitely need to restock when all this is over. Because it will end, right? All I really have now (other than a big drawer of drugs and a pantry full of creamed corn) is hope. Will it be enough?

Stay safe and far apart from each other, everyone.

IMG_9045

hashtag blessed

All praise and glory unto the god of Good Timing, for they are merciful and sexy af.

We returned from Amsterdam on Saturday, March 7th. Travel bans had not yet been put into place, but people were being cautious. We landed at 2pm, yet customs was as empty as I’ve ever seen it and the airport as a whole was significantly less busy than normal.

When we travel internationally, I order groceries online to be delivered several hours after we return because we are usually in no shape to get ourselves organized enough to run errands after a long flight (also there are kitties and we don’t want to leave them again, even for food). I ordered with the pandemic in mind, and stocked up on a few things I knew we needed in addition to the usual produce and perishables. I did order toilet paper, but just one package. You don’t go through much TP when you don’t poop, you see. Also, in a shocking first, every single thing I ordered was delivered. There’s always been an exception or something out of stock, but not this time. We are rolling in bread!

Since we returned home, Ed and I have been voluntarily self-quarantined. We did pop out on Thursday afternoon for a supply run – Diet Coke, additional perishables, and a huge amount of frozen quick meals – but there were no issues with availability or massive long lines. The only empty shelves were for Lysol wipes and hand sanitizers, neither of which were on our grocery list. We were able to maintain a safe distance from people and got all our stuff done.

I am super thankful that we had the foresight to do a supply run mid-week. Not even a day later, reports were coming out of places being closed because they had been shopped completely bare, and massive shoulder-to-shoulder mobs as people scrambled to get whatever they could for the quarantines ahead. Knowing that we had traveled internationally (and to one of the no-no areas), we planned to get what we needed before it became a dire necessity, and were successful. Our quarantine is in full effect (y’all) – we even skipped a birthday party in Washington state that we’d been looking forward to for months. It sucked, but .. you know .. pandemic, and all that.

When I was growing up, my parents were low-level hoarders. Maybe hoarders isn’t the right word .. they were bargain shoppers, and unable to pass up a sale. Due to this, my house was always teeming with household supplies – toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc. My friends used to joke about shopping at my parent’s house, and after I had moved out, that’s exactly what I did – I never bought any of this stuff, I just went home and helped myself.

I eventually left town, and could no longer shop at dad’s pantry. I maintained some of their habits though, and always seemed to have more than our house of two needed to have on hand. This has served me really well during this toilet paper crisis – we haven’t needed to go full Mad Max at the store, because I already had too much TP at home. Ed made fun of me for our toilet paper stores, but who’s laughing now? Me. I am laughing now. Thanks, dad!

Everything is getting kind of weird, but not in the ways you might expect: for us, nothing has changed. We’ve always worked from home. We rarely interact with other people on account of my being a broken anti-social weirdo. We don’t go where crowds are, and our home is always (over) stocked with essentials. I can’t imagine how overwhelming the new normal is for people who have actual lives – kids home indefinitely, work suspended or hastily moved to remote, worrying about supplies – those are the people I feel for. We haven’t been able to hang out with friends lately, and I can’t plan any travel for the year ahead, but everything else is exactly the same. Our workloads haven’t lessened at all because there’s no adjustment period to remote work. Our cats, while happy we’re home from vacation, aren’t besides themselves loving the attention (and are actually getting annoyed with our constant hovering). It hasn’t even really been all that quiet at home, since kids are heading outdoors to play in the warmer weather (at least, I hope that’s what all the screaming is about). It’s just a whole lot of Business as Usual at Halfwack, and I am grateful for it.

Also, today is our 2-year Halfwack anniversary. Hooray!

Okay, back to my piles of work that will not be going away any time soon because editing online help files is an essential service.

A37F9410-800A-4EB1-93CB-A220CB730D55

has it come to this already?

please offer me an egg in this trying time

I fucked up.

It was decided that the post-Barcelona trip this year would be to Amsterdam. When it came time to book the flights, there was no way for me to get Ed from Vancouver to Barcelona, then Amsterdam, then back to Vancouver without enduring any hellacious 16-hour layovers. I tried different configurations for over a month and even tried using a travel agent, but came up with nothing. To get around this, I booked Ed on two flights, four legs total:

  • Vancouver to Amsterdam, leaving before the conference and returning after vacation (KLM outgoing, Delta return)
  • Amsterdam to Barcelona, leaving several hours after landing in Amsterdam and returning after the conference (KLM outgoing, Iberia return)

The plan was for Ed to rub elbows in Barcelona while I cleaned up cat pee, then I would join him in Amsterdam a week later. His BCN-AMS flight would have landed two hours after my YVR-AMS flight, at which point we would purchase some wooden clogs and find some tulips to tiptoe through.

Unfortunately, germs happened. GMSA cancelled the Mobile World Congress entirely last week. It’s the biggest mobile conference in the world, so thousands of people are scrambling and trying to recoup flight and hotel costs. Luckily, I had purchased insurance for both of Ed’s flights, so everything should be fine!

Narrator: Things were not fine.

I dealt with the inner two legs first, and tried to cancel AMS-BCN. I managed to get a refund for the KLM portion, but the Iberia leg does not allow any changes. I have to go through insurance if I want the rest refunded. Insurance has already told me that a worldwide pandemic is not a valid reason to refund flight costs, so while I can go through the super fun experience of submitting a claim, there’s approximately 0.2% chance of it being successful.

Next up was the YVR-AMS flight. I wanted to change Ed’s outgoing flight from 02/21 to 02/27, but KLM basically laughed at me and told me to get bent: the flight is 100% non-changeable and non-refundable. Adding a dash of fun and complication was the fact that I had purchased an upgrade for Ed, from basic economy to economy plus, which allowed him checked luggage and a much better seat. KLM happily took my money for this, but input the change as a seat change only because technically upgrading the cabin was a change, which was not allowed. They never told me this, just said yep here’s your receipt and your new seat and see you later. Cool.

So, I can’t make any changes to the KLM flight whatsoever. Ed’s return flight from Amsterdam was still fine – I was on the same flight, just on a different ticket entirely – so I booked him a one-way ticket from YVR-AMS, leaving on the 27th with me. Hooray!

Narrator: Things were not hooray.

There’s no reason for Ed to be in Amsterdam/Barcelona a week early, so he missed his original outgoing flight (scheduled for today). Unfortunately, when you miss one flight, the rest of your flights get cancelled – so I got a lovely email late this afternoon saying Ed no longer had a return flight on 03/07.

I called up Expedia, who basically told me we were fucked. Ed called Delta, who said the same thing. They’d be willing to reinstate Ed’s return ticket if we paid the difference for a new ticket, which currently costs $4800.

At this point, we’ve paid for a return flight to Amsterdam (Ed), a second return flight to Amsterdam (me), and a one-way ticket to Amsterdam (Ed) for a total spend of about $5k, which doesn’t include hotels and red-light visits. I’ve been working on this trip since October, throwing myself into planning two days after the Japan trip didn’t happen as a way to distract myself from the overwhelming disappointment of our ruined, non-refundable, insurance-doesn’t-cover-super-typhoons trip.

I feel so stupid. I should have realized that simply not showing up to one flight would render the rest of ticket void, but I’ve been so stressed out trying to unravel this mess that I just .. didn’t. It doesn’t help that my ego is sporting some serious bruises, because I enjoyed almost a full decade of extreme luck when booking trips, only for everything to have been 17 different flavours of bad since our first truncated trip in 2018. I’m also 100% done purchasing travel insurance, because this is the third time my trip has been fucked through no fault of my own but the policy (with Allianz, Aetna, and now AIG) hasn’t covered fuck all.

I was on the phone for two hours this afternoon, and we actually have a resolution: Expedia changed Ed’s one-way YVR-AMS flight to a return trip with the exact flights we want, AND they covered the cost of the change (best case scenario would have been $401). I was willing to pay the extra $400 to make the flight work because we were in too deep to back out now (and I don’t want to) and $400 was easier to swallow than $4800, but I’m so so so glad the supervisor I spoke with (I had to go full Karen and ask for a manager after the first agent wasn’t able to help me) went to bat with corporate for me. I’m exhausted and hate the phone and am thinking about breeding complicated dogs as a hobby instead of travel, but as of right now, things are good and it didn’t cost me thousands more to fix and holy fuck do I ever need this fucking vacation.

I am weepy, but pleased.

spruce moose

One of the positives of being a misanthropic hermit is that I rarely get sick*. I don’t often mingle with the masses, so I don’t get a lot of colds or illnesses. In fact, over the last few years, I can trace any bouts of crud that laid me out directly to the last interaction I had with the outside and/or was on an airplane. On the other hand, Ed has been sick with at least two colds since the beginning of the year, and we’re barely a week into February. He spent time on a plane and on a boat and goes outside often, which is just teeming with germs, and therefore contracts untold horrors. Me, I wear Kleenex boxes on my feet and collect jars of urine. I’m totally fine.

I’m not completely immune, though. Last Friday evening I was social outside our normal friend circle. Last Friday night I came down with some sort of crud. I’ve spent the last few days bemoaning my existence, experiencing a myriad of disgusting symptoms that I am sure I could have avoided if I just stayed in the safety of my own filth and not in the company of people with unknown intentions. The unknown, man. It’s the worst.

Ever since I started working 100% remote, I’ve definitely noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of sniffles and maladies I get. This is exponentially increased by the lack of small humans anywhere in my life, vicarious or otherwise. Kids have a lot of germs and are usually sticky. It is a good idea to stay away.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasions I get sick, it’s like all the things I managed to avoid by shunning society descends upon me at once, and every ailment turns into a problematic Man Cold. I’m a huge baby when I don’t feel good, and am usually convinced I’m dying and no one in the history of mankind has every been in this much discomfort and I want mom** to make me feel better. Ed does what he can, but there’s not much to be done with a Man Cold. You just turn up the music to drown out the whining and wait for it to pass.

I appear to be on the mend, which is good. I need to go outside soon, and the last thing I need is to be visible Chinese while sick. I want people to avoid me because I am a bad influence with terrible ideas (a delivery service for sex robots you can order like pizza? I’m formulating the business plan as we speak), not because of racism.

*: until my body decides it’s been a long time since I’ve tasted the wonders of applesauce; then I inevitably end up in the hospital with some kind of medical anomaly.

**: any mom. Probably not mine.