Sunday, December 09, 2012

Single : Unemployed :: Married : Job

Jobs vary. Some are excellent, some suck, and some manage to do both, like my current job. There are many large personalities -- both patients and staff -- crammed into too little space, so there's a lot of power politicking, which is not something I enjoy. But I like more about my job than I dislike, so I stay.

If I had a friend who had been unemployed for a very long time, I think I would take great care not to complain about the various less-than-ideal aspects of my job. Because I'd be taking for granted the numerous benefits -- salary, health insurance, structure, routine, people to interact with and bounce ideas off of, etc. -- that I enjoy. And that my unemployed friend desperately wants. I like to think I'd be trying to help them find a job, instead of devaluing the job I have and telling them they can be fine without one for a while.

No job is perfect. No marriage is perfect. But people who are jobless or single are in a very vulnerable state. And it's insensitive to flaunt what you have in front of them -- to take it for granted -- even if you think you're just "educating" them on what it's really like to have a job. This is not something they need to hear from you. They will learn it when they get a job and have to deal with the bitter as well as the sweet.

I'm not a huge fan of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, but she said something that really resonated with me: Torah says that we should be very gentle with widows and orphans, because they've suffered a huge loss. These days, she said, singles are like those widows and orphans -- sensitive, and in need of care and support. We're dealing with the loss of something we never had.

In my case, I'm also dealing with the loss of a dream. I had a hysterosonogram about two weeks ago. I won't describe the exact procedure, because it's gross, but it's a way of examining your uterus to see if you have "submucosal" fibroids -- benign tumors that are not just snagged on the outside of your uterus but have penetrated the uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids can cause bleeding, pain, and miscarriage. If you're trying to get pregnant. I've been having excess bleeding and pain, but no sexual activity for about a year, so I wasn't worried about miscarriage; I was worried about blood loss.

The doctor who performed the procedure was excellent, telling me everything she was looking at. "Well, there's that big fibroid on the right wall of your uterus, looks like it's degenerating... The uterine lining looks good. That's your ovary... Looks like you're about to ovulate. See that? That's the follicle and there's the egg, about to be released."

"Is there anything you see that would indicate I couldn't have children?" I asked, trembling.

"Nothing at all," she said confidently, pulling out the scope.

So it appears I'm still fertile. But that doesn't do me a darn bit of good, because men my age won't look at me and much-older men disgust me. And I'm tired of going to parties and events. Just sick of it. It all seems pointless.

Theoretically, I could get pregnant and realize my dream. Realistically, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. For a long time it was a dream deferred; now it's turning into a fantasy, like writing a Pulitzer-winning Broadway play.

I realize children are demanding and draining. Theoretically. Because that's really all I have at this point. I will never tell parents to be grateful for their children because so many of us will never have them. But my heart is still breaking at the thought that I won't, too.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Anger unleashed, again

I hate and fear my anger. It causes me to overreact and do very stupid things, sometimes in public. Last night was such an occasion.

My British friend Harriet and her husband invited me to a dinner being sponsored by their synagogue. Harriet loves this synagogue so much that every weekend they commute into the city from their home in New Jersey  to a small apartment on the West Side, just so they can attend it. And it was incredibly generous of them a) to pay for my dinner and b) to want to introduce me to the other friendly and cosmopolitan members.

I knew I needed to go. Even though I was in a lot of pain from knee injections earlier in the week, and work has been enervating because I just don't like playing power politics with my co-workers. Most of them don't impose that dynamic, but this week a lot of gambits were thrown at me and I had to cope. This drains me.

So I was tempted not to show, but I knew I couldn't. She's done so much for me, including taking me to a very inconveniently located museum in New Jersey (inconvenient even for New Jersey, several hours away from anywhere else you might want to be) so that I could see a particular exhibit I'd read about in the paper. She went the extra 178-ish miles for me. Moreover, I forgot to go to Harriet's for lunch the Shabbat after Thanksgiving, and I didn't want to set up a pattern of inconsiderate behavior that disappoints her. Because she is one of my most ardent and loyal friends.

This is apparent when she introduces me to people and trumpets my accomplishments, including my appearance on a national game show. People widen their eyes and ask me about the host, and I blush modestly, admit I didn't win big, and say the host is very affable. I can't do this myself, and I am rather proud of it. It's a good thing for people to know about me right away -- unlike, say, type 2 bipolar disorder or a history of losing almost every job I was hired to do since college. Which is, in the case of almost every job loss, directly related.

The first few people we met were great to talk to. Then, during dessert, a tall slender woman and her tall slender daughter walked up to us, where I was getting dessert for Harriet's kids from platters on the table. I'll call her Artiste. Harriet introduced me.

"It's so nice to meet you!" cried Artiste. "You know, my daughter loves to babysit."

"That's nice," I temporized, putting watermelon and grapes on a small plate and handing it to Harriet's daughter, who said, "I just want grapes."

"She even got her babysitting certificate from the Red Cross, so she's certified," emphasized Artiste.

Why is she telling me this? "You should let Harriet know," I said, removing the watermelon from the small plate and reaching for the candy platter. "She always could use some help with the kids." Actually, Harriet usually has childcare under control -- she's amazingly organized

"Oh -- these aren't your kids?" Artiste asked.

"No, I can't claim that honor," I said, as Harriet's son Milton grabbed a handful of candy from the platter and projected a few more pieces onto the floor. "I don't have kids," I added, picking up the spilled candy and wrapping it in a damp napkin so Milton wouldn't try to acquire it.

The three of us started talking. Artiste is -- what else? -- an artist who works in every visual medium, from oil and canvas to video. "If you Google my name, you'll find my videos of all my outdoor installations. I bring the indoors outdoor and the outdoors indoor."

As the granddaughter of a very accomplished artist, I should have been more interested. I tried to fix my face in an expression somewhere between merely attentive and heartily enthusiastic.

"Does that pay the bills?" asked Harriet. Artist provided a rambling, wonderfully distracting response. The gist I gathered was that people will sometimes pay her to make bar and bat mitzvah video collages, but that didn't seem account for her elaborately tooled leather boots or deceptively simple clothing and jewelry.

Harriet made a glancing reference to all the single men who were in the room that night. That piqued my interest. "Which ones?" I asked.

Artiste named several whom I'd already met and either rejected or been rejected by. "Yes, I've seen that guy a million times," I said. "Never learned his name. I don't think he's interested in meeting me. Oh yeah -- those brothers. They're nice, but we've known each other for years, there's no chemistry."

She pointed out an arrogantly handsome man, with chiseled features and dark hair going silver at the temples. Sometimes you can look at a man and just know he thinks he's too good for you. However, to be honest I had never met him.

"So how would I go about meeting him?" I asked.

"Come back to shul for a dinner or a kiddush," said Artiste. "He's always here when there's food."

Easy enough. But then Harriet said something that infuriated me:

"I get so jealous when I read on Facebook about all the fun things you single people do."

Breathing evenly and deliberately, I said, "What?"

"Well, your friends are always organizing these events, and they sound like so much fun to someone who's stuck at home all the time with little kids!" she said.

The anger started building. I could feel it tightening my shoulders and my chest. My hands clenched into fists.

"Those events account for less than 99% of a person's time," I said, probably a little too loudly. "The rest of the time is loneliness."

"I just wanted to talk about this with someone who understands the real work of taking care of a family 24 hours a day," said Harriet.

That hurt. I was already hurting, from my knees and my exhausting week. Still, she's a good friend. I didn't want to bite her head off, so I said nothing. After all, she's right: I don't know what it's like to be responsible for a child's well being. At this point, it looks like I never will. I would love to have that problem.

"You have to do fun things for yourself," said Artiste. "I go out dancing, without my husband. You single girls don't realize that a husband isn't the answer to everything."

That shattered my last ounce of control. If she has teenaged children, that condescending trophy wife was never single for 20 years, and she has no idea what my life is like.

"I'm sorry, you don't know what you're talking about," I said, got up and walked out, mortified and shaking with rage. I wanted to punch Artiste in her Botoxed face. I knew I couldn't speak calmly to either of them, and I did not want to make a scene. So I went to the bathroom, breathed for a while, and got my coat to say goodbye to Harriet, who said she'd walk me out.

'Ayelet, I didn't mean to upset you," she said. "We love you!"

I don't want my friends to feel burdened by my emotional weaknesses and needs. And I know Harriet's life hasn't been 100% peaches and cream either. She has dealt with difficult pregnancies and challenging children, interfering schools and Neanderthal neighbors. I'm sure she longs for time for herself. I know that's part of the reason she likes me so much -- I provide intellectual stimulation that neither her children nor her New Jersey weekday neighbors can offer.

But what she said hurt me badly that night, and I was ashamed of my reaction. How am I going to back to that shul and face Artiste and her other upscale, stylish, married friends? I am mortified. I don't care if there are single guys there -- they probably saw me stalk out in a fury. No man sees that and thinks he wants to hit that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, November 26, 2012

A day in the life of bipolar

Today was a very rough day. I don't think you would have known it to look at me, or talk to me. But I was struggling all day to maintain the mask of normalcy, so I thought I would describe my trek through my own private Gulag.

Monday, 5:45am: After having difficulty falling asleep despite a very long stint on the acupressure torture mat, I wake up from a dream in which Bina and her husband were running a yeshiva for rabbinical students, many of whom were using marijuana.

I was also approached, earlier in the dream, by a former co-worker (two jobs ago, before I became a social worker) who wanted me to come back to the agency. I didn't want to, but I made an appointment to meet with him, which ended up being at his home and not the office, and then his kids were running around so we couldn't really talk.

I don't know why Bina and Asher didn't know their students were using marijuana. I was debating whether to tell them when the alarm went off.

5:55am: I don't want to go to work. I feel sad. I have gone through another bad bout of crushing on Dr. Dashing.

[Side note: Two appointments ago, I went in very angry about my crush on him and the fact that went I first went to the hospital, they couldn't treat me because they were out of supplies, post-hurricane. I was mad that they didn't call me to reschedule. I was also mad that I sat for fifteen minutes in the reception area before the receptionist from the urology practice (pain management receptionist couldn't make it in due to the transit closure) called to let him know I was there. So he could tell me that they had no supplies.

[The next day, when I finally went in for treatment, I was furious, but I didn't want to show it. So I didn't talk to him. Didn't look at him either. I didn't want to see any judgement about my uncontrolled anger in his eyes. Usually I chat to him about this and that, and I don't shy away from eye contact. My avoidance made him very uncomfortable; he asked if I was "out of it." I told him I was fine, just very angry. Emphasizing that I wasn't angry at him -- although technically that wasn't true -- and didn't want to take it out on him. (Which was true.)

[Last appointment, Dr. Dashing was very friendly, telling me about his Thanksgiving plans with his family and trying to engage me throughout the treatment. Totally let his shields down, which have been up since the week he called me twice. I thought he was being friendly because he was romantically interested, which led to a wonderfully rich fantasy life on Saturday, but a psychoanalytic friend pointed out on Sunday that maybe Dr. Dashing just didn't want me to be as angry and avoidant as I'd been at the previous appointment. This of course made perfect sense, so on Sunday, I became sad, and I woke up sad on Monday.]

6:00am: How am I going to manage at work all day when I feel so forlorn? Well, I don't have to do a group. I just need to review some treatment plan problems with counselors. That's my primary function at work: "developing" the counselors' documentation skills. Progress notes and treatment plans. I also consult with them on complicated cases, involving psychiatric problems, domestic violence, child welfare entanglements, and the like. Clinical supervision.

6:10am: I don't have a lot of sick days, and I've already used two on my defective knees since August. I can't call in sick. I have to go in.

6:42am: I sign in. Where am I going to sit today? I don't have an office. I can usually sit in the chart room of one of the clinics, which has a computer and telephone, but I can't see patients there. Often a counselor is out, so I can use his or her office. But every morning it's a scramble. Most mornings this doesn't phase me. Today I just want to sit down and check my email and not talk to anyone.

6:45am: I have to say hi to everyone whose office I pass or they will wonder. One counselor calls out to me. What does he want? Is there a problem? I'm not up for complicated problem-solving. Mindless paperwork might take my mind off my anxiety. Fortunately, he says I can work with him tomorrow on his MSW application. Which I promised to do. Which I'm happy to do -- just not right now.

7:00am: I'm in the chart room. Counselors pass in and out. I smile and say hello. Inside I'm crying, inside I'm dying, but I pretend to feel normal. I start looking through my folders, seeing which counselors I need to meet with to discuss treatment plans. There are more plans in the bin for me to review and sign. Meaningless paperwork, take me away!

8:30am: Reviewed seven treatment plans with one of the counselors. Reviewed two treatment plans with another.

What do the counselors really think of me? Some of them act so nice, I am suspicious they are trying to manipulate me. They can't possibly like me as much as they seem to; they must be pretending, but I don't know what they think they're going to get out of it. This makes me paranoid as well as sad.

9:45am: Ouch. I went to see one of the more volatile counselors. She did not want to talk to me. Not my fault; she's been having a rough few days, I know that. But she turned on me like a wounded grizzly bear when I suggested she make a minor change to some screening paperwork. Which the clinic manager had flagged as defective.

Even thinking about the conversation we had, almost 12 hours later, is kicking up the anxiety again. Right after the exchange, I was shaking. For hours. Even after she apologized and hugged me and told me it wasn't my fault and she'd do anything I asked her to do. I couldn't recover.

11:20am: Time for lunch. I went outside and did some comparison shopping, trying to calm myself down. Bought a new pillow and a tuna sandwich and a bottle of juice. Maybe this will soothe me.

1:30pm: Nope. Still stressed and anxious. A counselor calls me to ask if I can meet with her and a patient tomorrow. I agree; the patient has an open child welfare case and wants my help. Five minutes later, another counselor pages me. Can I meet with her and a patient tomorrow concerning domestic violence issues? Sure.  It mystifies me that all these people think I'm a competent professional, when inside I'm screaming and clawing at the air, like I'm suspended by a single thread over the Grand Canyon.

2:00pm: Hanging on by my fingernails. Just one more hour. Another counselor comes into the chart room, and we talk about one of his patients. Who has bipolar disorder. Ironic.

3:00pm: On my way home. Still wound up too tight. I'm going to make myself a nice green smoothie, which I try to do every day. I bought apples and greens at the farmers market yesterday.

4:00pm: I can't finish the smoothie. I'm not hungry. Yes, I'm that anxious. I post a tweet:

2 kinds of anxiety: 1) makes you eat, 2) makes you unable to eat. No idea why or how each strikes at any given time.

5:50pm: Watching last night's episode of "Dexter" doesn't exactly soothe the anxiety. What was I thinking? I will take a Vitamin K tonight. I have to run a group tomorrow; I can't be impaired.

Yesterday a friend said he didn't think I'm disabled, because I live independently and I work. He doesn't understand how much energy it takes to maintain both. More the job than the apartment; I'm a terrible housekeeper. But I've been fired from almost every job I've ever had, and I blame the bipolar.

I look normal, most of the time. Except when I won't make eye contact or can't get out of bed. But I'm not normal. And I'm sick of always pretending to be.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This is your date on Percocet

I had a date recently; a friend set me up. I wasn't enthused, because he seemed weird in the first phone call, on a Sunday afternoon.

"I'm walking up Columbus in the 80s," he said. "Where do you live?"

As it happens, near Columbus in the 80s. Which I told him.

"How would you like to go for a walk right now?" he asked.

When at home I'm almost always mostly undressed. I'm not spontaneous on my best days, so the suggestion was unwelcome. I wasn't in the mood to get dressed and go out, and certainly not with a guy who looked pretty hideous in his LinkedIn profile photo (the friend who set us up suggested I Google him). Also, the Rules state that you're not supposed to be immediately available all the time; men should get used to asking in advance to spend time with you, since if your time is limited they will perceive it as more valuable. Or something like that.

"I can't, really," I said. "I'm recovering from a pretty serious knee injury, so I can't really go for long walks right now. I also have some things I need to do later." We continued speaking; I think he found a bench and sat down. He seemed to ask a lot of questions. I suppose if I'd been attracted to his picture I would have been flattered, but the barrage struck me as somewhat intrusive.

"Tell me," he said, "what is the most important insight you have gained from your own individual therapy?"

Excuse me? In the dictionary under "inappropriate" that question is listed verbatim. "That's not something I feel comfortable talking about with you just yet," I said.

"I was going to tell you what mine was," he said, sounding disappointed.

Tempted though I was to call off the date, I got dressed three days later. I didn't bother wearing red, or curling my eyelashes, or going to the usual trouble I take with my appearance. I just wanted the date to be over. My knees were a little sore, so I took a Percocet as a precaution; I didn't want to be in pain and cranky on the date.

That was a mistake. First of all, he was more attractive than his picture. Second, he was very manly in the way he vetoed my suggestion that we walk 10 blocks to the restaurant and hailed a cab. So already I was starting to like him a little. But something went wrong.

The awful thing is, I have no idea what I did or said that turned him off me so much. He asked me if I wanted a glass of wine; I declined, citing the Percocet.

"How does it affect you when you take it?" he asked.

"It doesn't," I said blithely. He must have thought I lied, because the conversation -- from what I can remember -- gradually degenerated into rambling Ayelet monologues about politics, synagogues in Riverdale, and I'm not sure what else. He probably thought he was on a date with Blanche DuBois. A horribly offensive Blanche DuBois who has absolutely zero insight or self-control, and who won't answer a normal person's questions like a normal person would.

Of course, I'm not a normal person. But my disability wasn't the cause of this debacle. I actually wished I could have had a second chance to go on the date sober. It's funny -- as soon as I couldn't have him, I wanted him. Human nature, I suppose.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When is an accident not an accident?

Last week I posted about the work I do in my clinics. And the extra work they added by shuttling in two displaced counselors from the hospital's detox and rehab wards. On a good day my job is stressful; when I have to babysit two people, one of whom doesn't know much about methadone and the other of whom doesn't know much about methadone and WILL NOT STOP TALKING, it's extra stressful.

I was proud that despite the extra-extra stress, I was not, as my clients would say, "poppin' off" at anyone. I kept my tone low and respectful. I told the talky counselor, apologetically, that I needed some quiet so I could finish writing my notes. Dr. R commended me for not getting into fights with any co-workers despite my stress level. (We had a phone session because I forgot I had an appointment with him. I put it on my calendar and got an email reminder that morning, but by the end of the day I was so fried that I forgot the appointment and went home. Stress can make you absentminded.)

Then  I slipped on a wet floor and banged my knee.

That would seem like a random accident. But earlier that day, the custodian, mopping one section of the clinic, told me to watch out and not slip.

"I'm not an old lady yet," I scoffed. "Besides, I have good insurance."

Famous last words. A few hours later, after he mopped another section of the floor, I slipped on it and landed hard on my right knee, which is the worse of the two. Initially I thought I was fine and planned to just go to Employee Health the next morning and file an accident report. But I woke up in serious pain. Not the worst I've felt, but bad enough that I really couldn't see running from clinic to clinic all day.

After consulting with my union rep, I went to see my primary care physician, Dr. Cool, and I called Dr. Dashing. Neither thought it was serious -- just a bruise. I rested Friday and the weekend and went to Employee Health Monday morning instead. And then I went back to work with the two extra counselors, my 16 regulars, and 812 patients, because we've had a lot of admissions since I last counted them.

Today things slowed down a bit, and I had some time to think. Was my slip last really an accident? Or was my subconscious conniving to secure me an extra day of rest after an incredibly stressful week of going the extra light-year?

The administration is very respectful of my knee injuries, I think because they're a little afraid I might sue them for starting work at the hospital with sore knees but after three months of a killer commute, being diagnosed with the onset of osteoarthritis. So I'm never afraid to call in sick over my knees. I don't abuse the privilege, but I refuse to suffer any more.

I think they also don't hassle me about calling in sick because they are grateful for my work at the clinics. Everyone except the sociopathic counselor is very happy with me. I'm not imagining this; just today both charge nurses, from both clinics, separately told me how happy they are with my work. The managers tell me they're happy, 15 out of 16 counselors tell me they're happy, and the temporarily displaced administrator tells me everyone's happy. They know that if I call in sick, I'm really sick.

My psychoanalyst friend Joey calls non-analysts "Muggles." I like this term, since I view psychoanalysis as akin to wizardry, whereas I am an evidence-based behavioral clinician. But I do think there's something to the notion of subconscious drives influencing our behaviors. We often react to people not by what they do but by whom they remind us of, which is known as "transference." And not all of our behavior is rationally based. Emotionally driven behavior might have subconscious origins. (Was I angry at Dr. R? Did I really not feel like talking about my feelings?)

I have to remember that as frazzled as I feel sometimes, it's better than the years I spent between college and going to graduate school, when I kept outgrowing my jobs and feeling like I wasn't living up to my potential. I have a career. I have expertise. Four years after social work school, even though I messed up trying to start a dual diagnosis program at my old job, I am supervising 16 people. I harp on that number because I'm proud. My professional accomplishments are impressive, and almost all of the people I work with really like me. After the spectacular crash-and-burn at my last job, I'm flying, and not flying too high.

So I'm grateful for the stress, because it means my job matters and I'm doing it. Just like I'm grateful for the excessive heat in the airless, windowless clinics, because more than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy many people don't have heat or power at all. As the security guard in one of the clinics likes to say, "I'm too blessed to be stressed."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, November 12, 2012

For once, I agree with karma

Just found out that the horrible people who tormented and fired me from my last place of employment just lost a big contract. They let Princess Crybaby manage it. He failed. Dismally. So did the pompous twit who "supervised" me.

I am not a big person. I am gleeful. They tortured me, and now they're being punished.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Aromatherapeutic Ayelet

I am happy to report that with the exception of one person, every person in both clinics loves me. Well, likes me at least, and most like me a lot. The one exception -- how can I put this delicately? She has a personality disorder. That's not just my opinion -- I spoke to several people about her when she started projecting hostility and telling lies to and about me. They all agreed that it's her, not me. We haven't decided what kind of personality disorder it is, but I know she has a history of violence. She was actually fired for assaulting a co-worker and a patient. But, as a union delegate of many years' standing, she fought her way back into the clinic.

I've already told the clinic manager that I have 800 patients and she's not going to be the 801st. We shall see how this plays out.

But my co-workers are especially happy with me because I made a bunch of aromatherapy sachets and distributed them around the clinic. I initially made them for the counselors, because due to Hurricane Sandy, we've been really swamped. Actually, swamped with patients because weren't swamped with water -- patients from other clinics in our program and from other programs came to us to be medicated. I missed work for two days because public transit was suspended, but the three days that week that I worked were extremely hectic.

I also got two extra counselors to supervise. The hospital converted its rehab and detox floors into temporary beds for patients evacuated from other hospitals. I went to bed on November 5 with 16 counselors to supervise, and woke up on November 6 with 18 -- got an email from the clinical director saying that the rehab and detox counselors were being temporarily placed in the methadone clinics. They're very nice, but I was a little taken aback and stressed, because I had to orient them to the treatment modality,  organize their workload, and lead them around the labyrinthine clinics because they kept getting lost.

So everyone's been a bit frazzled, and as usual, it lands hardest on the counselors. I decided I'd try for a little morale boost and made some aromatherapy sachets for everyone. It's really easy, or I wouldn't be able to do it. You just take some mesh or gauzy fabric (I bought a sheer chiffon poncho from Marshall's, but you could also go to a craft store) and cut it into squares. Take two cotton balls. Put a few drops of essential oil on one and press the other against it. Wrap the fabric around the balls, twist the end of the fabric, tie it up with ribbon or string, and voilĂ ! Just take a whiff for an instant aromatherapy break. A micro-vacation, I called it.

I made them in lavender, peppermint, and jasmine, and everyone loved them:

  • "The clinic smells like a spa!"
  • "Oh, this peppermint clears up my sinuses!"
  • (assistant clinic manager) "How come only counselors get a sachet? I want a sachet!" (He got one.)
  • (in a blissful, dreamy tone) "Ayelet, I am sooooooo relaxed right now from this lavender..."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were high," I joked.

It doesn't hurt that one of the bigwigs from administration is in the clinic two days a week and thinks I'm great. She even asked me to make sure she got one of the sachets, and when I brought it to her, she was on the phone with her boss, saying that the social worker made sachets and everyone just loves 'em.

I don't have to perform the administrative functions of a supervisor, like making sure counselors meet their deadlines and make their quotas, and I'm not involved in any kind of citation or discipline. But I am learning a great deal about being an effective clinical supervisor, which is excellent experience.

Being exposed to so many people has me worried sometimes, though. These are clinicians. I really don't want them to figure out that I have bipolar disorder. So I'm monitoring my mood and anger very closely. Maybe too closely. This week has been a bad sleep week; as soon as the time changes, my sleep is disrupted. I've resumed nightly torture on the acupressure mat, which is helping, but for a few hectic days -- like the day I woke up with two extra counselors -- I was operating on very little sleep, and I was afraid I'd lose it or make a scene and everyone would wonder why I was so unstable.

But maybe I'm worrying too much. This afternoon I got a call from another clinic in the network. Their social worker was out sick, and a patient came into the clinic not feeling very well and threatened to harm himself. Alarmed, the clinic manager called me and gave me the counselor's number. I called the counselor, who was covering for another counselor and didn't have the patient's chart. So I talked to the patient briefly. Without going into detail, I was able to determine that the patient was not at risk -- he was in withdrawal and hadn't received his methadone dose yet. I told the counselor to send the patient to the medicating station, then called the clinic manager to tell her he just needed to be medicated.

"Why hasn't he been medicated yet?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said. "It's not my clinic."

For some reason this really set me off. I don't know if it was fatigue from insomnia, or feeling rattled from so many unexpected changes hitting me in such close succession. So I went into the secretaries' office and said, "Can you believe what that clinic manager said??" And vented a little bit. Then I calmed down and went to the break room to have my lunch. And after I'd eaten, I started thinking, "I shouldn't have lost it in the secretaries' office. How embarrassing. What must they think of me?"

One of the nurses came in for lunch and we started talking. I told her what happened, and as I was describing my little flip-out, the secretary, Tanya, walked in.

"Remember, Tanya?" I said, laughing in an attempt to appear blasé . "I totally lost it!"

Realization dawned on her face. "I forgot about that," she said. "I remember that earlier, when that other clinic manager called looking for you just as you walked into the office to get something from the printer, I thought, 'She's going to live a long time!'"

Apparently there's a folk belief that if you walk into a room when someone is talking about you, you're going to live a long time. Which is funny, because later that same day I walked into the clinic manager's office and he and the administration honcho were talking about me. Not just about me; about the work I'm organizing for the displaced counselors.

So I guess I'm going to live a very long time. I hope I'm not in physical and emotional agony for much of it. And I guess I don't appear as loony as I fear I do.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I don't want to live in New Jersey. Not even in my dreams.

I had a very interesting dream recently, over the holidays.

I dreamed I bought the house in New Jersey that Ivan the Terrible was renting. I did this so I could watch his children, since he’d bought the house across the street. Spy on the children, I guess is more like it. I didn’t see them, but I saw Ivan. I never saw his face, but I saw him from behind. I really didn't want him to see me, and I didn’t particularly want to see him. Just wanted to the kids, but I don't think I did.

I also was paying my Spanish-speaking cleaning lady $40/week, and she sat down with me and said I had to pay her $56/week. I was talking to her in Spanish, so I felt intimidated and I capitulated.

Then I was wondering, how often do I have to have the cleaning lady? Every other week or once a month? And then I thought, how am I going to afford this? Living in Manhattan and just going to New Jersey on the weekends to try to see Ivan’s kids? I have a mortgage now? I don't want to live in New Jersey!

I went out into the street. It was erev Yom Kippur, and some people invited me in for the pre-fast meal and then Kol Nidre. And at Kol Nidre I didn't know where to sit. I couldn’t tell if it was mixed or separate seating. People were singing and praying, and I couldn't follow what they were doing. So I left.

Interesting dream. Pretty sure it means I'm just about done with Ivan the Terrible.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hello again, David

Two years ago I met David at one of ET's Simchat Torah meals. I thought we had a connection, but it petered out pretty quickly. I friended him on Facebook, but after he failed to comment on my posts and demonstrated no interest when I saw him at shul, I unfriended him.

Last July, mutual friend Aviva posted a cute picture on Facebook that David and I both commented on. He apparently noticed that I'd unfriended him and sent me a friend request. I accepted, not expecting much. However, I committed one of my stupid-but-I-think-it's-cute attempts at flirtation: I told him he needed new glasses and a better haircut.

David's an engineer, so I shouldn't expect him to know better, but he looks kind of like an extra from the 80s nerdfest Weird Science. Feathered hair and big round glasses. So when he friended me, I commented publicly that he needed new glasses and a new haircut, and I should take him to get them.

I don't know why I always want to take men for a better haircut. It got me in serious trouble with Ivan the Terrible, back when he was still JV. But then another friend, Cosette, said she needed new glasses too. So I created an event for 8/12/12:

David and Cosette are getting new glasses

It is time. Long past time. I am taking David and Cosette shopping for new glasses frames. We're going to go to the flea market first. If we don't find anything I like, the adventure will continue. Also, David has to get a haircut but I suspect Cosette would not enjoy watching that as much as I will enjoy supervising it.


It didn't work.

David: My flexible spending account is too low. Reschedule for 2013, please. (Also, I have plans all day on the 12th.)
Ayelet: Plans all day is an acceptable excuse, so give me a better day/time. If nothing else, at least you can get a haircut.
David: As I said, 2013. (Although I can get a haircut in 2012.)
Ayelet: So be a man, call a nice salon, and book an appointment!

He did not. So after that, I left it alone.

This Simchat Torah, ET made another meal the first night. I ended up sitting across from David, and noticed with distinct pleasure that he'd gotten a much better haircut.

"My usual barber was out," he said after I complimented him on it.

"That is your new barber!" I said.

Again the conversation and flirtation seemed to flow. He even told me to go where he would be the second night. Which I did, but had already made plans to hang out with a friend that night, so I didn't really hang out with him. I don't know if that would have made a difference. I thought he might suggest we hang out after the holiday, but he didn't.

I shouldn't be surprised. He's younger than I am, and not very sophisticated. He probably could not handle a woman like me, and wouldn't want to. But I'm still disappointed.

I'm distinctly aware that I'm not giving a very full or engaging account of what happened with me and David. Writing is not coming as naturally to me these days. I don't know if it's because all my emotional energy is being drained at work or because I'm interacting more with people on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I santorumed Dr. Incompetent

Dr. Incompetent's office is a block from my apartment. Despite that, we've rarely run across each other, until I saw her at shul on the second day of Rosh Hashana. I went to shul at the end of services so I could hear shofar. She was there and approached me and asked why I was there; I indicated I wanted to hear shofar and sat down and ignored her.

Usually that's all I'll see of her in five years, but then she turned up at a different shul on Simchat Torah. Again, I ignored her.

Apparently you don't ignore Dr. Incompetent. She wrote me a letter.

Dear Ayelet,

It's been many years since we've met, and I'm writing to you now for several reasons. Your blog entry about me as an incompetent, callous and hypocritical therapist pops up right under my name as an online permanent indictment.

In other words, I've Google-bombed her. Just like people who search for Senator Rick Santorum will encounter a naughtily nasty neologism, people who Google Dr. Incompetent's real name have seen my blog post about her (I included her real name in some of the comments to the post).

As the first result. Which I take a little pride in.

Although I don't challenge your assertion that I was not helpful to you (the treatment ended badly, after all)

Understatement.

as well as your perception that I was uncomprehending and even obtuse about what was going on with you and how to deal with it,  

I ended up in the hospital in a coma. You told my mother not to hospitalize me. Do the math.

I do have some different memories about our relationship.

Perhaps because you don't remember being tied to a bed with a ventilator down your throat. Oh wait -- that was me.

You were under the care of a psychiatrist, to whom I had referred you, who made his own diagnosis on the basis of which he prescribed medication -- on which you then overdosed. He presumably did not get it right either.

Damn right he didn't get it right either, but that doesn't absolve Dr. I of responsibility. As a clinical social worker, I am in frequent communication with my patients' psychiatrists. I spoke with one today and I'll probably call another tomorrow. I am academically as well as practically trained in medication management (practically because I've tried most antidepressants and mood stabilizers and my fair share of antipsychotics). I make it my business to know what they're taking, if they're having side effects, and if the meds are helping them. You don't have to be a psychiatrist to recognize when someone has decompensated.

I also made many attempts to reach your mother and sister because I was aware that things were not good or even dangerous, and we met several times, including on a Sunday or two.

Yes, we did meet several times, and I did not get better. And then you told my mother, "Ayelet's out of control" after I missed five or six appointments with you. Which you did not fail to bill me for, and I, like an idiot, paid the bill. You blamed me and not the illness. Certainly not yourself.

You may not have liked my style, or me but I was taken with your spirit and intelligence and very much wanted to help you -- although obviously that did not happen.

Flattery will get you nowhere. And the therapy probably went nowhere because the psychodynamic therapy you practice is 100% ineffective without a good therapeutic alliance. Even with a good alliance it's not that effective. (I think I've mentioned that Dr. Incompetence got her doctorate at The Bad Place, although I don't know if she studied under Drs. Dragon and Octopussy; I'm pretty sure Drs. A and Stone were there.)

Your suicide attempt came as a great shock to me, not only because of the action itself, but because I (and the psychiatrist as well) had no clue that this was where you were heading.

Such a shock that when I asked you for help in the hospital -- how do I explain this episode to my employer? -- you completely blew me off and had no suggestions for me.

I would like to ask you to consider removing the online posting about me, and if that requires expert technical intervention, I would be willing to pay for it.

Of course you would. You have family money and your husband is loaded. Which is why I just removed all references to Dr. Incompetent's real name from this blog. I can't afford to defend a libel suit. I've Google-bombed her since about 2009 -- that's enough. Unfortunately, even after I deleted the comments, the results are still coming up in the Google search. I guess I will have to contact Google for help with this.

But I will not take down the original post, or any discussion of her incompetent and ineffective treatment of me. People need to know that effective therapy requires a good alliance, and a good fit -- and that if you're not comfortable early on, you should try a different therapist. I felt an immediate bond and rapport with my individual therapist during my first hospitalization, and with other therapists as well. And I pride myself on establishing rapport with my patients, but I'm not always able to do that. (When I'm not, I try to find an employee that the patient actually does like and have them be the good cop when I meet with the patient again.)

It's clear that you felt/feel very angry at me, and if you are convinced that this online condemnation is my "just desserts," then there may be nothing that will allow you to look at things differently.

Still making it all my fault. If only Ayelet could see things differently, I wouldn't be angry at Dr. Incompetent for taking so much of my money and almost killing me. I don't like being manipulated.

Separate and apart from my request, and especially as we still seem to be neighbors, I would be interested in  meeting with you and trying to understand and learn from you what went so wrong. Perhaps these many years later, we might both get something from it.

Drat. She is appealing to my curious and vengeful side, offering me a chance to confront her and say all the saved-up zingers I've been collecting for more than a decade. Especially now that I'm an educated and (somewhat) experienced mental health professional.

I was inclined to consider meeting with her. Then she called and left a voicemail.

"Um, hi, Ayelet? It's Ida Incompetent calling. I sent you a letter on Friday, and um, I would really appreciate it if you could give me a call. My number is"

Don't push me. I just got the letter yesterday, and I got home too late to blog about it. I'm always curious to know what my readers think. Should I meet with her, or should I let sleeping dogs lie?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Another damn Russian

A few weeks ago I was contacted on a dating website. By a 27-year-old.

Hey Ayelet, I just wanted to wish you a happy and sweet new year. Looking forward to getting to know more about you, let's talk soon! Asher

Please. You are TWENTY-SEVEN. I sent what I thought was a nice brush-off.

Shana tova, Asher. Have a sweet 5773.

He was not discouraged.

a little more about me

i was born in Moscow came to America at he age of 4 I am a Employee Specialist for people who have a mental disability. my ultimate goal is to open a college for disabled kids . The reason why is because when I was younger I was diagnosed with being dyslexic and they told my parents he would never graduate school and I proved them wrong so I want other kids also to prove there former teachers and parents wrong. im a romantic Kind of guy im looking for marriage. my grandfather was a schindler jew. Hopefully I didn't bore you to much hehe :) Cant wait to hear from you

i love kids and i love to travel, i love to cook,i love to read , i love to explore something new

p.s.s..s I am Arkady nice to meet you :)

He sounds nice, but he's FIFTEEN years younger than I am. I don't really think that's appropriate. He has dyslexia; maybe he thought I'm 24? I'll let him down easy

Arkady, you seem like a very nice guy, but you are too young for me.

He bounced back quickly:

can you help me find a girl

No, because I'm not your damn matchmaker, and I have enough on my plate. Story of my life: the only people interested in me are 10 to fifteen years away from my age.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My heart still breaks like a little girl

If you follow me on Twitter, you know what's been going on in my life. I haven't blogged in about a month. Since I am feeling sad and brokenhearted right now, I'm not up for writing much. So I'm going to share (most of) the tweets I've posted since my last blog post on August 26. What's interesting is you can see how widely my mood veers from day to day, sometimes from dawn to twilight.

27 Aug: Just spoke on the phone to help a friend talk through a situation. Apparently I'm a pretty good therapist ;)

(Sometimes I need to give myself props, since it's so easy to hate myself for being a fat old maid.)

30 Aug: Dilemma. Interview went great. Like the ppl & the work. But it's 15 min from subway & they want 1 evening shift, 1-9pm. Not good 4 me.
  • Always hated the 1-9 shift at my last job, and I do MUCH better w/a regular schedule. I'll go on followup interview and & see.
  • But really don't want to walk to the subway thru the S. Bronx at 9 pm by myself. Really don't like that idea.
4 Sep: so angry, and so tired of being angry. tired of the pain, tired of the disappointments. just tired of everything.
  • dear friends: please don't be offended when I don't want to IM or talk on the phone. It's not you. I'm just too bitter & miserable right now.
  • when is the pain going to end? I'm afraid to take another job because I don't know if I can handle any commute but the easy one I have now.
(I went to a family event, where my dress was ruined, my sister was hateful, and an 80-year-old man told me I look "deliciously voluptuous." His daughter then tried to set me up with her brother-in-law, a recovering addict who just achieved HVAC certification. No thank you. And the awesomely gorgeous stilettos I wore turned my knees to fire.)

8 Sep: one of those days when I try to sleep as much as possible to avoid my grim future of underutilization, humiliation, and underachievement.
  • Do I really have to wait until I'm 50? I have no prospects of anything better, no hope. I'm tired of trying and getting smacked down.
  • and please don't call or email -- I need to sleep some more. Thank God for Vitamin K. Temporary escape.
9 Sep: rested & dreamed a lot yesterday - today all I have to do is wash my hair & order groceries.
  • knees feel good. slept a lot today, trying to avoid thinking.
  • Hate my life. Tried everything to make it better, nothing helps. Just sick of everything. Miserable all weekend.
11 Sep: Funny. Most of the counselors say they luv workin w/me & hope I'll stay a long time. If only they knew how hard I'm tryin 2 leave!
  • got a 2nd interview 4 the job w/slightly difficult commute but EVERYONE seems REALLY happy to work there. $ & hours are better too.
  • Got an email about my resume from another possibility that sounds really interesting. I'll keep you posted.
(The most appealing thing about the second job is that it's located in my neighborhood, about a 10-minute walk from my apartment.)

12 Sep: Knees don't hurt nearly as much as I expected, post-injection. Good. Woke up at 4:20am. Not so good.
  • have been in a ridiculously good mood all day & hopes it's not onset of hypomania precipitated by all those steroid injections (hip, knee)
  • single dad LIED, he's still on OKCupid- y make up a bullshit story about dating someone else? Just say you're not interested in me! Loser
  • crap- overpowerin lust is back- really don't want hypomania to return when I'm juggling job interviews & tryin to keep the job I have- help!
  • OWWWW ok now the knees hurt- not as much as they COULD hurt, but enuf :( hoping it's temporary cuz the injections were yesterday
13 Sep: OW OW OW OW woke up w/knee pain, not happy; hope I survive today with my second interview
  • It's been a while since I blogged. Will try to write something this weekend before Rosh Hashana. Awake, in pain, but happy right now.
  • o o o SO crushing on the dangerously delicious Dr. Dashing- sent him a fax about yoga nidra & he called to thank me- soooo crushing on him!
  • got a provisional job offer at my 2nd interview; also emailing the person who contacted me for a different job; soon I'll ESCAPE
  • been a hard year, but I finally learned how to get along with more people than I piss off
(In case you're wondering, this is how: . First, you always have to be nice to people even when you feel like you shouldn't have to because they should just do what you want. Then, you have to make sure to give them sincere compliments and validate, validate, validate. Always be scrupulously fair, apologize COPIOUSLY when you're wrong or mistaken, and treat their time as more valuable than your own. Finally, have a sense of humor and make them laugh even when it's sometimes inappropriate.)

14 Sep: knee pain, up since 2am, this will be a LONG day. hope I get an interview at that other job. hope hope hope hope hope..
  • looking forward to resting over the weekend, and resting and seeing friends over #RoshHashanah
  • GOT THE INTERVIEW! (Told work I had a Dr. appt.) Think it went well. Hope for a 2nd interview next Weds or Thurs. REALLY WANT THIS JOB!
  • Haven't heard back from provisional offer. Which is great cuz I got to use it as leverage but I don't have to negotiate it just yet.
  • So much of my life will be decided for me this Rosh Hashanah. Feels... so ironic.
(I had 2 interviews for one job and one interview for another. The first job made me a provisional offer and said HR would contact me for the final negotiation. I told this to the other job, hoping it would light a fire under them.)
  • I need your prayers now more than ever to get me my dream job!!!!!
  • Tuesday Dr. Dashing & his fellow injected my knees. Weds Dr. D called to thank me for sending yoga nidra info & wish me happy new year.
(Actually I was wrong, it was Thursday he called and left a message.)
  • Today (Friday)Dr. D called AGAIN to check on me, even tho I scheduled a followup appt 4 the normal 2 week interval. & again wished me Happy New Year
  • Is Dr. D crushing on me as hard as I'm crushing on him???
(Two phone calls the same week he injected me seemed a bit much. And why did he keep saying "Happy New Year" and then pause expectantly? I decided to do a little research, or cyberstalking, I suppose you could call it.)
  • OK. I Googled Dr. Dashing. And... he is not Pakistani, as I thought, but a Persian Jew from Los Angeles.
  • Could not see if he's married or single, though. But at our next appointment I'll wish him shana tova.
(With that, I went from crushing to full-on obsessional fantasizing. Like, imagining his aunt in Great Neck would invite me to join them for the first days of Succot.)

16 Sep: sent Dr. Dashing LinkedIn connect request: (in Farsi) happy new year and best wishes for you my dear friend (translated for me by a friend)
  • also said: In advance of Yom Kippur, please forgive me for assuming your ethnic origin was Pakistani. Ball's in his court now...
  • Unlike 5771, this year I will not pray to be inscribed in the Book of Death. I am aware of my many blessings and have hopes for a good year.
18 Sep: Didn't go to davening, but I did hear shofar. Prayed for clarity and acceptance: to know what I have to do & be willing to do it.
  • should be practicing yoga nidra, but after 2 days of no TV, am watching Bridezillas
19 Sep: OMG SO HOTTTT 4 Dr. Dashing! and so flipping out over the job situation. Clarity/acceptance, clarity/acceptance, clarity/acceptance...

(I made an appointment for a negotiation interview for one job, and the other asked for references, which I sent.)

Sent the references. "Give it up to God" says AA. Have to Let. It. Go. Clarity/acceptance, clarity/acceptance, #clarity #acceptance

20 Sep: up too early w/knee discomfort- trying to welcome it a la yoga #nidra, but will probably end up taking something for it #irest
  • so hard to trust that everything will be OK and I'm going to make the right decision about a new job
  • have to remember that as angry as I am about my current job, I have learned a lot through it
  • good thing about having a crush as an adult is knowing that you will eventually get over him and stop obsessing
  • crushing crushing crushing on the delectable Dr. Dashing... I'm in heat... it's awful
  • asked a Persian friend, "How do I make a Persian man fall in love with me?"; he said, "Just be yourself" - great, cuz THAT has always worked
  • knees ache... heart aches... acceptance is so hart [sic.] tonight... this is why my patients get high... I have to just sit with the discomfort
(That is one Freudian typo.)
  • this is why discipline is so important in yoga practice- but a friend's breakup has me moodily listening to sad videos :(
  • I really better practice tomorrow, I will never get better at this rate.
21 Sep: have reached the heartbreak stage of the crush... does that mean it's almost over? totally want to get drunk or high or something

22 Sep: Now leaning toward taking the other job. Not the one in my neighborhood. Worse commute, not as creative, but more $ and my own office.
  • I'm just so afraid of hurting my knees worse...
  • crush hitting me SO HARD, maybe cuz of all the job insecurity; this too shall pass & I'll return to normal functioning. soon, please.
23 Sep: why is acceptance so hard? why do I want so much that I don't have?

24 Sep: Went 4 what I thought was final negotiation w/HR. Instead, new interrogation & a shock: salary offered was several thou less than expected.
  • Just trying to accept it all gracefully & gratefully. I don't have to rush to leave this job. I can find another job anytime.
  • Not on my timetable. Never is, never will be. On the upside, knees hurt less today. Forgot cane in a.m., had 2 stand on the bus in the p.m.
  • Maybe my knees will get all better. Maybe I will find a way to live with my job. Maybe I will get over wanting love & sex.
  • Headache all day. Constipation? Allergies? Stress? Need a hot oil massage from Dr. Dashing.
25 Sep: Wishing all friends and fans an easy and meaningful fast and sealing into the Book of Life. And yes, this year I hope I will be too.

(Just before Yom Kippur started, I got a fateful phone call.)
  • "Since your interview the salary for the position has changed." Really? The workload increased hugely and you CUT the salary? See ya!
(They told me a social worker just left. Starting to understand why.)
  • Good every1 @ the clinics luvs me. May be there for a while. 2 ppl today told me how much I'm appreciated, wonder if they know I'm looking.
  • If I've done anything to hurt or offend any1, I hope you accept my apology - with the caveat that I'm a smart-aleck & it could happen again
Sep 26: Survived the fast. Rested, read, prayed, dreamed of Dr. Dashing - not sharing the proportions of how I spent the 25 hours

Sep 27: Dr. Dashing was ALL boundaries today. There goes that forlorn hope. How can I eliminate my love & sex drive? Tired of disappointments.

(He didn't mention the email on LinkedIn. I was relieved. We didn't talk about anything but my knees, which yet another fellow came in to palpate. I am the star, or performing seal, of this pain management program.)

I was sad, and then Twitter gave me some good news:
  • Who needs love? Patrick J. Kennedy @PJK4brainhealth is following me! I'm the happiest bipolar mental health clinician EVER!!!!!!
(That gave me a bit of a bounce, but pretty soon I was sad again.)
  • .... yeah, I still want love. But I do feel a little better. Getting a famous follower is pretty hot. Better blog soon.
  • cute icons don't make SPAM any more appealing, and seriously: I need a lobotomy that targets the romantic illusions in my cerebral cortex
  • should practice yoga nidra, yet all I do is watch Bridezillas: total exercise in masochism, cuz if those bitches can get married y can't I??
So there you have it. Tweet by tweet, a month in the life of a manic-depressive -- or, as the advocate in me prefers to say, a woman with type 2 bipolar disorder. I promise not to do this too often, but this month has me feeling so raw, rejected, and dejected that I just haven't felt like writing anything extensive. I'm aware that I'm luckier than many: I'm respected and liked at my job, and I'm good at it. But my Disney-brainwashed heart still aches. I know I'll get over Dr. Dashing, just like I've gotten over every crush. It's the getting over that's painful.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quick to bail single dad

I blew it.

So the tall cute single dad totally beat me in our last game. I started another. And started another dialogue.

Ayelet: surprise -- you won the last game
TCSD: When can I get my foot massage ? lol
Double or nothing

What does that mean?

Ayelet: DONE
Except what exactly is double a foot massage? Two foot massages?

He didn't get it.

TCSD:?
Ayelet: You said "double or nothing" -- how do you double a foot massage?
I'd like to clearly state the parameters before I enter into another binding agreement ;)

And... silence. More than 12 hours ago. He has continued playing but stopped chatting. I predict he won't start another game with me, and even if he does, he will never be anything but a WWF friend. That's what my gut is telling me.

I'm not entirely surprised. In our singles group he described himself as "recently divorced." He's obviously not looking to get married again anytime soon. He's just a quick to bail single dad. At least he didn't waste 11 months of my life like Ivan the Terrible.

Although he did just "like" my latest status update...
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surprise! Ayelet stops holding back!

Alert the media.

So the tall cute single dad and I had a very close WWF game, started another, and continued chatting.

TCSD: Naughty WWF

(I played "SEX" for 30 points. Had to.)

Ayelet: that's the way you like it ;)
TCSD: Nice pic btw

Aha! He notices how I look! I played "DATED."

Ayelet: thanks :) see, in the PG WWF, "dated" comes before "sex" ;)
TCSD: Roflmao

Our first WWF game included some very naughty words and he called it "X-rated WWF." Either he thinks I'm hilarious or he's very polite. We played on, and he outscored me.

Ayelet: drat, you've overtaken me
TCSD: Yup it's clobbering time

There's the Chuck Norris fan I started playing with! It is a sad fact that I lose about five times as many WWF games as I win. I'm kind of resigned to it.

Ayelet: Well, you're in good company. Everyone beats me at WWF. I've learned not to take it personally.

I thought he'd respond with some playful aggression. Instead, he went all Dad on me.

TCSD: You're good and getting better. Stop psyching yourself out

My heart melted.

Ayelet: aww... :) thanks

And then I actually overtook him.

TCSD: Close game

And then I actually stopped playing it cool.

Ayelet: so what does the winner get? ;)

His next move won me the game, and he immediately started another. And continued our conversation. 

TCSD: Nice game! What's the bet? 
Ayelet: It was a close game, so I was wondering what the winner would get. But now that I know I won, it just looks like I'm asking you for something ;)

Trying to give him an out if he wants one.

He doesn't.

TCSD: Ok what's the bet in this game? Since you "smoked" me in the last game.

I agonized. What should I ask for? I don't know, what's fun and flirty but not desperate-sounding?

Ayelet: hmmm.... Winner gets a foot massage?

As soon as I sent it, I regretted it. Too sexual. Too forward. Inappropriate. Makes it look like I want him to touch me. What was I thinking?

TCSD: Deal

I love uncomplicated men. I think I really need one, because my own thinking gets so convoluted.

Ayelet: :) Now I can't decide if I want to win or lose...

Yeah, I've pretty much lost all pretense of playing it cool. I'll keep everyone posted.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tall Cute Single Dad

So I met a tall, cute single dad (TCSD) in one of my singles FB groups. Actually, in his pictures he looks tall and cute, but I can't be sure because I've never met him in person. We have, however, been flirting. Sort of.

I recently started playing Words With Friends, the game that got Alec Baldwin kicked off an airplane. I don't find it that addictive, maybe because it doesn't show you the word score until after you've submitted the word (unlike the dear departed Scrabulous). But I have about 7 or 8 games going at any given time.

Someone named "Chuck Norris Rules" sent me a game request. Well, you don't turn down a Chuck Norris fan, right? That could be dangerous. So I accepted and we played for a while. Eventually he revealed that he's TCSD. We started exchanging little messages via the game. I didn't keep them, unfortunately, so you'll have to trust me when I say that he sounded flirtatious but not overly eager or enthusiastic. Kind of playing it lukewarm instead of entirely cool.

He also found me on OKCupid. We chatted some more -- again, he was very friendly but kind of noncommittal. And rated me either 4 or 5 stars -- the site doesn't tell you which, just that the person rated you highly. Fine, so I rated him highly too and the site generated an automatic message to each of us that we chose each other.

We chose each other! 
Hey Ayelet, We chose each other!
Reply to this message to contact me. If you don't want to receive rating messages, go to the settings page to change your notification settings.

Of course I didn't reply. I just kept playing WWF and responding to his messages there, friendly but not too encouraging.

Normally when I like a guy, I comment obsessively on his posts and updates. But I'm holding back this time, as difficult as that is. He posted a status update that he was going on a tropical vacation; I reminded him to wear sunscreen, but that was it. When he returned and posted photos, I looked but didn't comment. When he posts in the group, sometimes I comment and sometimes I don't. He's matching me in this, more or less. Except that when he got back from vacation, he emailed me on OKCupid:

TCSD: Hey Ayelet

A: Hey TCSD -- looks like you enjoyed your time in tropical paradise :)

TCSD: Uh oh you're now an expert in reading people. Yes I did

A: thanks to those links you posted ;)

He's a lawyer (shocker, another Jewish lawyer) and posted an article about how to tell if someone is lying. Which I found very revealing, and plan to review and learn from.

But... that was it. Except we've continued playing WWF. He's commented on some of my posts; I comment on very few of his, and very little that he's commented on.

Tall has never been an important criterion for me, since I'm very short, so physically it's awkward. Despite that, he looks very attractive, at least in the pictures. He's also the father of four children and doesn't want to have any more. Which I understand. Given my age, not to mention my back/knee problems and bipolar disorder, pregnancy might be a very bad idea for me. And I'd rather be married to someone who loves and accepts me, and decide not to have my own children because I have an important role in raising his, than hold out for the "perfect" man.

It's very unlike me to sit back and wait for a man to decide to ask me out. But I'm trying something different. Running after men like Broom Hilda hasn't gotten me anywhere in 42 years. I'm going to play it cool with this guy and anyone else who starts expressing interest.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Hypnotize me

I've been to two hypnosis sessions. Originally I was hoping it would help with the pain, and also assist me with sleep, anxiety, and anger management. Well, she's 2 for 4. I am notably less angry and anxious, while also still in pain and having trouble sleeping.

Hypnosis isn't like in the movies. No swinging watches. You are just assisted into a very relaxed state, and then the hypnotist talks to you, suggesting, for example, that when you get angry or anxious, you take a deep breath and return to that very relaxed state you're currently in.

That's been happening, and it's needed to, because life is mighty stressful right now. The knee pain is still very bad. My disability appeal was initially denied, and I had to scramble to get in all 40 or so pages of relevant paperwork. Because the appeal was denied, I got a very unfriendly letter from the administration, telling me I had to return to work immediately -- even though the doctor at Employee Health still considered me unfit for duty. (When you work in a hospital system and you get sick, you can't go back to work until a doctor declares you fit for duty.)

So that is uncomfortable and frightening. But I'm doing everything I can. I went back to Dr. Dashing in ferocious pain, perhaps in tiny part because I went to sing karaoke with friends the night before. Trust me, I didn't dance or stand nearly as much as I usually do. And I needed to get out. When you're not depressed, staying at home alone all the time is depressing. Also, it was extremely gratifying to see all heads whip around when I started belting out the chorus of "Since U Been Gone." I was declared the queen of karaoke, which I already knew, but it's nice to be confirmed.

The next day, I limped into Dr. Dashing's office, telling him my back was better but my knees were on fire. He hasn't given me any painkillers stronger than Voltaren gel, which constipates me handily but doesn't do much for the pain. I'd gone to two physical therapy sessions with a therapist who didn't believe my popliteus was the problem. He made me do strengthening exercises, and I was in pain for the next seven hours, until I put a Klonopin between my cheek and gum and sedated myself.

I got more than the sacroiliac injection we had discussed. Dr. Dashing had read up about a knee injection procedure he could also do, since the PT wasn't helping. Normally you wouldn't be able to get everything injected in just one visit, because insurance won't cover it, but Dr. Dashing took the opportunity to educate another fellow, who, oddly, had the same last name -- Epstein -- as the one I met at my first visit. Dr. Dashing ultrasounded and injected the left knee, and Dr. Epstein did the right knee. See one, do one, teach one.

The experience was simultaneously intimate and impersonal. I lay on my stomach, panties rolled most of the way down, and at any given time up to three doctors palpated, poked, prodded, and injected.

"I'm curious..." said Dr. Dashing. I assumed he was talking about the prominent mole on my behind.

"It's benign and atypical," I said.

"Excuse me?" he asked, poking at my back.

"Ow," I said.

"There," he said. "Still tender. You said your back is feeling better now that you're done with the Bactrim, but this is still abnormally tender." Abnormally tender could refer to so many physical and emotional parts of me.

But the best part was when he ultrasounded my left knee and saw excess fluid.

"Whoa," he said. "There's a lot of fluid there."

"Thank ya, Jesus!" I crowed. A lot of my patients say this when they're really grateful. I don't know why it slipped out. It seemed to disconcert him. "Or Moses," he said.

"Do you know why it's there?" I asked. He didn't, and didn't seem curious. But that doesn't even really matter. Now I have proof that there is something wrong. Something that wasn't visible on my February 2012 ultrasound. Proof that there is a reason for my pain.

Of course, having proof is good, but having relief would be better. He said the injections would take about two weeks to reach full efficacy. The first two days were agony -- I don't know how many needle sticks I endured, but from what I overheard while I lay prone, it was quite a few. Now I'm a teensy bit better, but still in pain. Wearing knee braces helps, but I still wake up to urinate (despite the Bactrim and a few weeks on Macrobid) a few hours after falling asleep, and then can't fall back to sleep.

Which was something the hypnotist targeted. "If you wake up to use the bathroom, when you return to bed you will immediately return to a deep relaxed state and easily fall back asleep," she said. (I think -- it's hard to pay attention when you're that relaxed, and you don't really need to because supposedly they're talking to your subconscious anyway.)

That sort of happened last night. But not tonight, which is why I'm blogging at 5:30 am. I don't want to get into the habit of taking Klonopin every night.

Still, I'm in a fairly good mood -- even though I'm in pain, even though I'm barely sleeping, even though I'm extremely nervous about supposedly returning to work next week. I'm cheerful. My friends are bending over backwards to be nice to me. Alona got me a fantastic book by one of my favorite authors. Harriet is taking me to a fantastic New Jersey museum as a belated birthday gift. (We're going to borrow a wheelchair, and I could never get there by mass transit. She's even picking me up at home. Full service.) Other friends are hanging out with me, calling me, having coffee or dinner with me. Or inviting me to dinner at their homes.

If my job and pain were bearable, I think I'd actually be pretty happy with my life. As it is, I know that being angry or anxious won't help anything. Even though I'm terrified of losing my job, my independence, and my rent-stabilized apartment. But I'm doing everything I can to restore my health and comply with all the various systems -- union, administration, and disability insurance. I'm trying to enjoy life a little, going out with friends while still trying to rest. Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist and then went to a seminar on trauma. 

So things could be worse. I don't want to lose my job, I'm looking for another job, but I'm not stressing about it. I'm doing the best I can, and I have to be happy with that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What did I do to deserve this?

Usually I ask that question when I'm utterly miserable, physical agony or emotional anguish. But this time I'm just puzzled. I have several friends who love me. I mean, really, really love me. Even though we've never met in person. They say things like:

i am always here,if you want to /need to talk sometimes it helps. if there is anything i can do ,please write,no judgement, just love.i know we do not know each other well,but you have a friend in me,please know that. thank you for showing concern,and for your message. .again,if you want to reach out, i offer my friendship with open arms and an open heart. YOU ARE TOO BEAUTIFUL NOT TO SHINE YOUR LIGHT

Wow. No words. Just -- wow. I guess that means I have to keep going.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pain managed?

Went to a smart and funny pain management specialist. He was very impressed with the comprehensive paperwork I'd completed (he shouldn't have been, I'm a social worker), and did some tests that had never been done before. He looked at how I walk -- apparently I don't use my toes enough -- palpated my sacroileac, which was very sore, and agreed with me that I don't need strengthening PT. I need to treat my poplitear tendinosis.

I wasn't surprised. Last month I went to a very snide orthopedist and told him I thought I had poplitear tendinitis. (Okay, so I was a little off. When you Google "popliteus tendonosis," you get no answers.)

"Do you know where the popliteus is?" Dr. Pompous asked pointedly.

If I didn't, how would I know to think there was something wrong with it?

I pointed to the tender spot behind my knee. My chiropractor had alerted me to it, saying it was spasming and could be causing the knee pain. But Dr. Pompous disagreed and prescribed strengthening PT for my patellofemoral syndrome. Which I knew from my brilliant chiropractor (who has by now helped me all he can) was not necessary. I spent a month doing quadricep strengthening exercises rigorously, and it did not help one bit. That led me to conclude that I did not have patellofemoral syndrome.

"I saw an orthopedist last year, who diagnosed me with patellofemoral syndrome," I said. "Also golfer's elbow. He gave me two sets of exercises, and I did all of them rigorously, twice a day. My elbow got better, my knees didn't. His diagnosis was wrong."

Never tell a surgeon that another surgeon was wrong.

"That doesn't mean the other orthopedist's diagnosis was wrong," said Dr. Pompous in baneful tones. "Up to 30% of patients don't recover. I'm prescribing strengthening exercises."

Jackass. So, a month later, I finally land in pain management, because the chiropractor can't help me any longer and doesn't know why I'm in so much pain. And I'm really hoping Dr. Dashing is right.

Dr. Dashing examined me with a fellow in the room, which was awesome, because he had to explain everything he was doing and why. Often when you're being examined the doctor pushes this and pokes that but doesn't give you a play-by-play, they just summarize at the end. This time I understood everything he was looking at and what it meant.

"Take off your shoes and walk down the hall," he said. I started down the hall. "Come back now." I turned around and came back. "Go back down the hall. You see?" he said to the fellow. "She's landing on the balls of her feet, not her toes."

Suddenly I felt very conscious of my toes. I generally only think of them when I'm getting a pedicure or have an ingrown toenail. It apparently affected my gait.

"Now she's landing on her toes," continued Dr. Dashing. We all laughed. It was cool; he wasn't making fun of me. After all, he respected my handy way with extensive paperwork and my comedic timing. Probably that is why I think he is funny.

So a few things. In addition to not utilizing my toes when I walk, my heels are drifting and my patellae are "tracking." This means that I am now supposed to imprison my feet in shoes with a closed heel, also known as a "heel counter." Which irritates me no end, as my favorite shoes are mules and my feet like the open air. And heels chafe. Feets don't fail me now? Too late.

Poplitear tendinosis is so rare that Dr. Dashing could not find its ICD-9 code for the PT referral, even after consulting the ICD database (which is proprietary) and Google. Which was also hilarious and felt kind of validating. There's a reason nobody knew what was wrong with me -- it's rare. Not that I'm honored. Although I might be if he publishes a journal article about me. So I'm going for PT, and I'm going back to Dr. Dash in a week for an injection to ease my excessively tender sacroiliac.

I'm not sure if my back hurts because I injured it in October 2000, I was hit by a car in October 2009, I have fibroids (5 days after the ultrasound I'm still bleeding; I'll see my gynecologist in two days, but the good news is that the fibroids haven't grown significantly, although that does make me wonder why I'm bleeding), or I have such a severe bladder infection that I have to take the vicious poison masquerading as an antibiotic, Bactrim. Never again. Today is my last day on it before I switch to Macrobid; I ache all over, my eyes are burning, and I feel feverish. Like the flu with no congestive symptoms.

But I trust Dr. Dashing, and I'm going to ask if any fellows want to sit in on the sacroiliac injection -- a procedure that apparently isn't done very often but Dr. Dashing thinks it should. Not because I'm an exhibitionist but because I like hearing the backstory.

It reminded me of my hospitalization after my suicide attempt. At another teaching hospital. I woke up from the coma with pneumonia, either acquired at the hospital or via aspiration. Med students trooped into my ICU room several times a day to listen to my lungs. One had trouble and said, "Can you take a deeper breath? I can't hear anything."

The last med student heard plenty, I wanted to say, but I obliged her.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blame it on the bladder infection

(Again, males and squeamish readers might not want to read this)

On the advice of my chiropractor, I bought a computer chair. After sitting in it all day the day before yesterday, I was in serious pain. I considered getting a footstool, but I think I'm going to have to return it. A day after pushing it aside, my glutes are still burning and my lower back aches. For a while, I couldn't tell if my knees hurt because my back hurt so much.

Yesterday I went for my cystoscopy. I forgot to mention my bladder in the list of body parts that have disappointed me. While on leave, I decided to address my ongoing UTI problem. But I've been annoyed with this urology practice from the start. At my first appointment (which I made to see Dr. A and was told upon sign-in I'd see Dr. B), I waited two hours to see Dr. C, who prescribed Keflex. He said I needed a sonogram and a cystoscopy, so at the reception desk I scheduled an appointment for a sonogram.

"Do I get it here or at another site?" I asked.

"You can get it here," she said. The employees run the place with the cheerful efficiency of the DMV. Nobody seemed happy to be working there; nobody was friendly; nobody smiled. And I came down with bronchitis two days later -- possibly because I was sitting in a waiting room with sick people for two hours.

Two weeks later, I arrived for my sonogram.

"You can't get that here," said the receptionist. "Your insurance won't cover in-office procedures."

"But I asked that when I made the appointment!" I said. She wasn't budging. "Ma'am, I'm just an employee," she said. Sure. Like the one who said I could have my sonogram there. I threw a mini-diva fit and insisted on speaking to a doctor. He got me an appointment that morning a few blocks away. The results weren't abnormal (although the tech was impressed by my extensive fibroid growth).

So, my cystoscopy. I arrived on time and they gave me a shot of Valium. After which the doctor came in and said, "Don't worry, it's no big deal -- it's easier than a pap smear."

Couldn't you have told me that before I was sedated? I have to say, though, that either it was over very quickly or Valium -- like all benzos, "Milk of Amnesia" -- made it seem like two seconds.

(When I had my first gingival graft, my dentist asked if I wanted Valium. "Sure," I said. "Five or 10 mg?" he asked. More is better, right? I opted for 10. I lay down in the chair, he bent over me, and then I was standing next to the reception desk, swaying a bit.

"Next procedure, you're only getting 5 mg," said my dentist sternly.)

Upshot: my bladder is severely inflamed, and I have to take antibiotics for a month. Strong antibiotics: Bactrim for a week and Macrobid for a month. Which are making me very nauseated. I wasn't sure if they were giving me a headache, but I developed one a few hours after taking my first Bactrim horse pill. Of course, that could be because I came home, wolfed down some food (no breakfast before a cystoscopy), and took a 4-hour nap.

Then off for two sonograms to check on my fibroids. Which are as much fun as you'd expect. For the transabdominal, you have to drink 4 glasses of water and wait an hour. With my sensitive bladder, I cheated and only drank 3. Fortunately, that was enough. Then after voiding, I had to endure the transvaginal. There was a lot of blood on the probe after she removed it, and my last period was 2 weeks ago. I think it's from the bladder infection, but I'm not 100% sure. I'm seeing my doctor on Monday, to go over more paperwork, so I will let him know. It might just be my body flushing out the bacteria.

Sorry if that is TMI.

Rounding out the day, I had a mammogram, which was so painful that I cried. My head was pounding, my back ached, my stomach was in nauseated knots. When I got home I didn't want to talk to anyone, which is why people kept calling and IMing me. (Why doesn't that happen when I'm feeling lonely?)

Right now my back still hurts, but the nausea is better. So hopefully I'm getting used to the Bactrim. I also started taking a probiotic supplement. And tonight I go for my first hypnosis session.

Why is it so painful being me? I'm trying not to be anxious about the job situation, but my savings are dwindling. And I can't go back to that commute. It almost killed me. I'm very frustrated and apprehensive. At my last job, I made a number of mistakes and pissed people off. At this job, I didn't. It feels like even when I do all the right things, I still get the shit kicked out of me by the universe.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"