Category Archives: Life

Virgil Brinkman is back on the air.

I’m sitting at the picnic table at the Big Timber KOA (home of the world famous water slide, which I will not be sliding on/in/with/whatever). After two nights at National Forest campgrounds in grizzly bear territory (pictures to follow), and much of a day in Yellowstone Park (pictures to follow), we’re now winding down this part of this trip. Several intended destinations have gone by the wayside, including a visit with my sister in Great Falls, and a drive-by of the Broderson Ranch in Ryegate. Tomorrow we’ll be going to Flathead Lake, ending up the day in Spokane, and then Thursday will include arriving at Wenatchee, hoping to just visit our friends at the pizza place, pick up the car, pay a not-too-expensive bill, and drive the rest of the way home without incident. Then it’s sleep one night in my bed, and off to work Friday for a full weekend, then off to Baltimore Monday evening with Emily and, hopefully, our big trip of the Eastern Lands. If it turns out we spend 10 days in the DC/Maryland/Virginia territory, then we do, and that will be cool. If we get out and do the other things we want to, and see the people we want to, that will be cooler. We’ll find out.

More detailed descriptions of the trips will follow, along with a mega-butt-load of pictures of tons of pretty places and cool things and you will get to meet Wilbur and Lola and Foamy and Finnegan and see them in their many adventures.

An extra sloppy hug to whomever can identify the source of the title, btw. You can even choose that to be an extra hug which is sloppy, or a hug which is extra sloppy.

Brian Regan: Is God Talking to Me?

This is just odd. I was checking out the suggestions Netflix has for me, and one of those suggestions was a set of comedy shows from this guy named Brian Regan. Based on the films they were using to explain why they’d made the suggestion, I got the impression that this is somebody who knows how to be funny without being crude — something I value a lot. So I checked out the reviews for one of the disks, and this impression was confirmed. I added them to my queue, and decided to take a look at the guy’s website, and, from there, decided to see where his shows were going to be. Now, as I was clicking the link to his show schedule, the thought that went through my head is “but I wouldn’t be able to go to any of his shows even if they were close because I always have to work all weekend, and shows are always on weekends.” Continue reading Brian Regan: Is God Talking to Me?

Interesting day.

I realize this is a bit “already in progress” but it’s been an interesting day.

Being a work day, my day started at midnight, as my swing shift turned into my graveyard shift.  I usually take it a bit easy across that time, catching up on my online things a bit, and see what’s on History Channel.  When it came time to start on the paperwork for the new month, I went to the office computer and set up the med sheets for the month (they just needed some minor adjustments), and then sent them to the printer.  Nothing happened.  So I checked the printer queue, and found my file sitting there, right next to three copies of a job the case manager had sent to it, none of which was going anywhere. 

Some brain-fuel burnt later and I figured out that what seems to be going on is a network problem.  Last week, as I was leaving, the Comcast guy was there changing us from DSL to Cable internet, and my coworkers were complaining about having trouble getting on the internet, so I think there’s a problem in the network, probably the router.  I think the IPs might have gotten assigned differently than they were configured, and now things aren’t talking to each other the right way.  I tried resetting the router a couple of times, and powering down the computer and the printer and the router, but it wasn’t working.  There’s a network device in there for filtering things that might be messing with stuff, and I don’t have admin privileges on anything, so I can’t do much more than that.

So I couldn’t print out new med sheets for the month, and had to have a place to track the meds for the day, so I squeezed them into empty spaces on the February sheets, and I’ll probably have to do that tonight, and try to get it worked out in the morning when the case manager gets there, in the midst of all the other chaos of the morning.  It’s going to be a rough sleep time — I’m behind on sleep heading into the night, and I’m going to have to stay to get that laid out at least, and then I’m going to have to go to the Lynnwood Parks and Rec department to pick up my hat (I left it there after the pottery class Friday — in a year, it’s the first time I’ve forgot that hat anywhere — much better than my record with baseball caps, but very annoying), and I’m still left with only a few hours to sleep before I have to pack up and head to my afternoon job. 

All of this time spent on getting the printer to not work came out of the time I had other things to get done, so I was behind.  And, being tired from a bad sleeping day yesterday (yes, this is becoming a pattern), other problems arose.  There are three sets of keys for the house, and, Friday night, the other two staff that finished the swing-shift took the set they were carrying with them, so we’ve been working with the set of keys I had that night ever since.  And I lost them for about half an hour, right in the middle of becoming more frantic about trying to get everything done that I needed to in the time I had remaining.  In a faith-promoting moment, I had a short, frantic, direct standing prayer of “I could use some help here, please,” and I walked to the place where I’d placed some papers on top of the keys and there they were.  It was helpful — it’s nice when God puts up with my mouthiness when I really need it.

And then the 0700 staff called to say she’d be 15 minutes late (which wasn’t too big of a deal).  By that point, I was in pretty good shape — I just had three baskets of laundry to fold.  So I folded laundry while she dealt with kids that were bored in their rooms, but can’t come out until 0900 (other than bathroom things).  One of the two 0800 staff that are to relieve me didn’t get there until almost 0840, so I had time to finish folding the laundry and got some of it put away before I left. 

The problem with leaving that late was that I was trying to get to Church by 0900, and the ward I tried this week is about 40 minutes away.  So, I was about 20 minutes late when I got there.  I picked this ward because some friends of mine that I haven’t seen in a few years live there (for those in the know, it was Jay and Audrey), and it would be good to share space with them on the weeks I can’t be at home (and I can’t do the Sunday trip home more than a time or two a month — it just about kills me).  Being late, I sat in the back and scanned the crowd to see if I could find them.  I found their older son first, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t him — it would be too convenient if the first boy I saw about the right age and size just happened to be him.  But the older lady playing with him looked familiar, and then the short-haired guy in front of her turned his head and it was Jay, and then I realized that next to him was Audrey.  That was cool.  But then I looked and noticed that, next to Jay was Audrey’s brother, my former home teaching companion.  I had no idea he would be there — I thought maybe his family had moved into this area as well, and that would just be weird in a good way.  But I couldn’t remember his name, and it bugged me — a lot.  I’m not good with names in general, and I was just not even thinking about him, and there he was.  I couldn’t remember his wife’s name either, but I could remember their older daughter’s name — she used to think I was about the best thing around, and would follow me around, but, not too long before they moved away, she got some taste and decided that she’d at least play a little coy with me (she was like 18 months at that point). 

So I sat at the back of the room, staring at these people, trying to remember their names, paying attention to what the speakers were saying for the most part, and having the spiritual experience, while tipping my uncomfortable metal chair back to reduce the muscle spasms in my ribs (which are still there) so I can keep breathing.  I closed my eyes at some point in this and started dozing off — making a very unsettling moment when I came awake and realized that I had almost tipped my chair over backwards.  At some point, Jay got up and carried out a rather small looking baby, so I figured they’d had another one.  Not a huge surprise — it’s been a few years since their second. 

After the meeting, I wandered over behind their seats, and the best moment came when Audrey glanced back and saw me, because, when she recognized me, she smiled. See, I’ve been running into people I haven’t seen for a long time on Facebook, but it doesn’t allow you to see what their process is when they get the friend request.  It’s hard to tell if they’re at all pleased with the prospect, or if they’re just approving the request to be polite.  But there was nothing in the polite or forced in that smile, and that meant a lot.  She told Jay that I was there, and it took him a second to think about what Blain she was talking about and then to look over and “Oh.”  But they were both glad to see me, and I got to meet the new baby girl, who is only six weeks old.  The reason they had all the family there was that they had blessed her this morning, and Jay reminded me that Audrey’s brother’s name is Spencer (I remembered Brooke’s name while driving out of Marysville on the way back afterwards).  I told them what’s going on, a little bit, and then they needed to leave, because all the family was there and had seen what they came to see.  But they said they hoped I’d come again, and meant it.  Again, very nice.

The rest of the meetings went reasonably well.  The Sunday School teacher this week (the rotate between two) is someone I know as well, although we weren’t particularly close, and I’m not sure he recognized me.  I’ll talk with him next time, when I’ll hopefully be a little earlier getting there — maybe even before the meetings started.  Sunday School went well, and that was good — a bad Sunday School experience is enough to not come back, since I have quite a few wards to choose from.  So I will be back, at least a time or two. 

Sleeping this afternoon didn’t go very well.  I woke up for good just before 2000, and now I need to get ready for work — I need to leave in about 40 minutes.  And, when I go on-shift at 0000, it will be another interesting day. 

Boredom, or just sleepy?  Walking is good.  Part 4 of 3

I’m down to the point that I’m not nearly as freaked out most of the time.  This update is just to show a bit of progress, and to account for the amount of freaked out that I still am. 

I did go for a walk last night.  It was actually pretty good.  Quite good, actually.  I was listening to the Phedippidations podcast (an award-winning podcast on running, especially marathon running), and it occurred to me that walking not only gives me something to do with my nervous energy other than pacing and stewing, but it could actually help improve my aerobic fitness, so I could make better use of my shallow little breaths, and that it would help speed up the healing of that torn muscle in my back.  So I walked for about an hour — more than I’ve done in a long time.  It works better for me, right now, than spending time on this computer does, because the only position that’s really comfortable for this is sitting, and the only position that hurts consistently is sitting (well, I’m sure the push-up position would hurt as well).  While I was out walking, I went by the home of several of my Facebook friends and waved at one who happened to be outside when I came by.  I also got waved at by a young teen in one of the houses I was walking by, but I don’t know who it was — maybe a kid from Church, or maybe just someone bored and looking out the window.

And then I cleaned up and went into town to buy some food and things that I was running low on, and to pick up my prescription, which was ready when I got there 30 minutes before it was supposed to be done.  Which was nice. 

Right this second, I’m laying down on the couch, which has been most of my resting place at home since the breathing thing became a problem.  For some reason, I have a better time getting to sleep here than in my bed, even though this is shorter than my bed and a bit uncomfortable.  But I’ve got the TV set to KBYU (for some reason, it’s quite calming when I’m trying to sleep), and I can just doze off whenever.  Once I’ve been asleep, and then wake up for a bathroom trip, I can get to sleep in my bed, and sleep for a time.  I woke up there around 0530 and wasn’t going to get back to sleep there.  I came back to the couch, and did some computering and dozing until it was time for my meds around 0600.  I did walk over to the Post Office to drop a Netflix into the mail.  I’ve done some more dozing than awakeness since then, coming to the last time in the middle of a show on scrapbooking (KBYU can be a bit weird, in addition to being comfortable). 

I have an appointment at the doctors at 1440, just over three hours away.  I think I’m going to skip my meds betwen now and then (it’s due about now), just to see how it’s going so I can talk to him intelligently about that, and we can make a plan for where to go.  I will be walking over to the appointment — still not comfortable driving with these meds, even though I’ve never been loopy on them (negative b, plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four ac, all over two a).  Plus, I’m liking the walking.  When my back gets better, I think I’m going to work into some running again.  I feel better when I’ve run.

So now I’m just burning time and trying to stay comfortable.  I probably won’t sleep any more since I’m a couple of hours before my appointment — don’t want to sleep through it.  Haven’t got food totally figured out yet — I tend to lean on what sounds good.  Mostly, I think I’m bored.  I don’t yet know when I can get back to work, and a number of the jobs I need to do around the house require sitting or bending, both of which hurt a lot.  And my concentration’s still not that great.  I don’t know if I’m sleeping so much because I’ve been behind, or because I’m healing, or because of the meds, or because I’m bored.  I don’t know. 

I still have to exercise some control of what I let myself think about — I can’t handle as much sadness or emotional stuff as I usually can, or it gets me going and then I get a little freaked and have trouble breathing.  It’s a little bit like being mentally claustrophobic. 

I think that’ll do for today.  Maybe, if I’m awake, I’ll update after the appointment. 

Breathing is working most of the time.

I went to sleep shortly after my last post, and slept on the couch for a half hour or so, and then, after a bathroom trip, moved to my bed, where I slept for about an hour.  Just as I woke up, Emily was in my doorway.  I said “Hi,” and I guess she said “Bye,” and then she left to catch the bus to her mom’s.  I was awake, and still pretty frustrated about the breathing thing.  So I tried laying down on the couch again and the breathing was hard, and I got frustrated again.  So I went for a walk and, while I was walking, I made a couple of phone calls — one to a friend who hadn’t heard any of what was going on with me, so I got to give her the full schpiel and whine and everything.  Then I called Emily back when I got home (she called three times while I was talking to the other friend), and she was reallhy concerned about what was going on with me and wanted me to go to the after-hours place again.  I decided that it made sense to go over there for the night again, and thought maybe I’d get Kathy to give me a ride to the after-hours place and then could get picked up from there. 

Then I talked to Kathy about what was going on.  I couldn’t think of anything medical that could be done for me that hadn’t been.  I’d just had time to be on the prescribed pain med once through, and that wasn’t enough time to be back saying “that isn’t enough.”  I also recognized that much of the problem was me being frustrated and scared and impatient.  If I could focus on being calmer and more patient and relaxed, perhaps this could work.  So I did this, and got a briefish nap after taking the next round of the meds, and then caught another almost-nap.  Then I packed up and headed to Faith’s. 

Things were pretty quiet there, so I read in my book for a while, and then talked to Emily.  She was getting ready for bed, so I went and laid down and tried the focussing on being calm and relaxing and I went to sleep, and slept straight through until almost 0700 (which was about eight hours by itself), and then, after another bathroom trip and taking all the relevant meds, went back to bed and slept until 1020.  This helped a lot.  So I got up and, pretty soon, decided the best thing would be to come home, where I could get food that works with my funky life and take my diabetes med. 

So I came home and watched some TV and, pretty soon, laid down and got another nap, until it was time for my next dose.  Staying current with the meds has worked pretty well, as has the relaxing and being less crazy.  It’s still a bit moment to moment, and having breathing be weird is still hard, but it’s working pretty well.  I’m going to be going into town to buy some food and pick up a refill on my muscle relaxers in a bit — I’m even going to clean up a bit first.  I might take a walk before that — walking doesn’t hurt. 

Continued prayers are requested. 


For proper effect, every noun in this post should be understood to be modified by the adjective “firetrucking.”  And there may be another firetruck or two that shows up in the post, as in “what the firetruck is he talking about.” 

So, after my post yesterday I went to Church and we sung and it was okay.  And then I hung out for the next 1.8 hours and tried to listen to what all was going on while not sitting down (although sitting on the edge of the stage wasn’t too bad until I got up at half-time and some guy took my spot — firetrucking guy).  I got a ride home from my (not firetrucking) Home Teacher, and turned KBYU on the TV (also not firetrucking) and laid down on the couch and dozed for a while, and then I went to bed and slept for about an hour.  And then I woke the firetruck up and was right back into hard to firetrucking breathe and a little firetrucking anxious about it.  I fogot to get the blessing while I was at Church, so I decided to call my (still not firetrucking) Home Teacher to see if I could get that blessing, but I got his (firetrucking) voice mail.  So I left a message.  Then I called the Elders Quorum President to see if I could come hang out with his family (distraction is good, and he has a great (and great big) bunch of kids that would be very distracting to hang out with). 

But he wasn’t home either.  So I went for a walk, because I was going more than a little crazy by that point.  My Home Teacher called while I was out, and we arranged for me to go to his house for the blessing.  So I walked up there and then another friend came by to help, and the blessing went well.  I hung out for a bit more, and then I needed to go.  So I walked home.  I called Emily on the way home and we chatted a bit.  That helped some.  She’s had some (firetrucking) experience with medicines and anxiety and pain and stuff. 

So then I was home and things just kept spiralling.  I was afraid to try to sleep, because every time I tried, I’d have a hard time breathing, and that would ge tme frustrated, which would increase how much I needed to breathe, and it was a positive feedback loop.  I called the on-call doctor again and he said that everything I was experiencing was normal.  About 9, I called the on-call again and got the lady doctor who sounds like my sister (who is a naturopath, interestingly enough), and described what was going on, and she suggested I either go to ER last night or wait and try to get an appointment at their office first thing in the morning. 

So I called Faith and she agreed to come take me to ER.  Emily came with.  We got to ER about 2300.  After checking in and registering, Emily was getting tired, so Faith took her home.  She also gave a guy who was stuck there with no place to go a ride to an all-night diner.  It was 0230 or so when they took me back toward a doctor, and a while after that before he came.  He decided to address the pain, since the pain is what was affecting the breathing.  He had them run a chest x-ray and do some blood work to make sure I didn’t have a blood-clot in my lungs, and they put an IV in for the blood draws (my first firetrucking IV).  That took two tries, and I learned that my traditional blood draw spot is not a good IV spot. 

They also gave me some high-power pain medication through the IV.  I was concerned about it, but it didn’t seem to lead to any anxiety and I was able to recite the quadratic formula at all times through it (negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four ac, all over 2 firetrucking a).  The nurse indicated it would be about like having a couple of glasses of wine, which got a bit of a blank look (never had one glass of wine, let alone two), so she gave me half and then we waited to see how it would go before taking the second half. 

It took forever and ever to get the lab results back, but they were fine, so they sent me off (at 05firetrucking30) with a prescription for a stronger pain reliever, and I went to Faith’s.  Emily had set me up a bed, and the idea was to have me do my sleeping attempts where there was somebody around in case I needed someone to talk to.  I slept pretty good from about 0600 till my phone rang about 1030.  I decided I wanted to go get my new prescription filled and try some more pain medication.  It took a while to get there and then home, with a trip to Walmart for the meds and then to my doctor for a blood draw, and then it took a while (and a couple of Emily hugs) before I could get my guts up to take the firetrucking meds at about 1430.  I took the pain med and one of the muscle relaxers. 

So, now I’m laying on the couch, with breathing still kinda tough.  I’m getting more tired.  I’m hoping that the meds will reduce the pain in my abdomen to the point that I can keep breathing enough to get some more sleep soonish.  Emily’s watching 24:Redemption, which I’ve seen, and can sleep through.  I’m trying hard not to panic about this, and that’s a challenge.  I’m tired enough to doze off a bit, but I don’t know yet if I’m up to falling asleep.  I’ll try.

Thanks for the good wishes.  I’ll take all the prayers and good wishes I can get.  Major back pain that messes with breathing is really a firetrucking problem. 

Okay, off to hopefully sleep. 

Hating my meds.

I’ve been awake about two hours.  I’m having some anxiety and it’s bugging me a lot (redundant much?).  I think it’s from the meds I’m taking, as anxiety is listed as a known side effect.  I can’t seem to shake it off.

I injured my back a few days ago — tore a muscle between the ribs which have gotten inflamed and are quite painful.  On Thursday (this happened Tuesday evening), I started on a muscle relaxer and a pain medication you’ve probably heard of.  They’ve been knocking me on my butt, and I’ve had quite a lot of sleep since that time.  But, now, I’m unable to sleep, and I’m quite tired, because it feels like I’m not going to be able to keep breathing — like I have to consciously think about breathing or I might stop, and that fear keeps me awake.

I know I’m not going to stop breathing.  But that fear is just in there and it doesn’t have to make sense to be compelling. 

I think I’m going to cut back on the pain med I was prescribed — half doses or less.  The pain is still there, and I’ve taken the pain med regularl to try to stay ahead of the pain, but this is really bothering me. 

I think I’m going to go for a walk, just to have something to do and to maybe metabolize some of this stuff away. 

I didn’t.  But I did lay down and concentrated on breathing slowly and steadily, and I might have dozed off a bit.  Now I’m going to eat a little something to see if that helps.  This has me a little shaken, if that wasn’t clear.

It’s later now.  I’m going to get ready to head up for Church now.  I’m singing in a small men’s group (six guys, four parts) in conference.  I feel very strange still, and more than a little uneasy.  I will ask for a blessing when I get there.

Acceptance is good again.

So, right after I sent out all the “I just got accepted!” things, I sent a message to the officey-types at work to find out about how to use the Tuition Program so I can get my school paid for.  The response came back with two basic points:

1.  I need to access this through PIONET (our agency-only website for internal job postings and many wonderful things).
2.  Eligibility requires one year in the job, and full-time status.

The problems with this were (respectively):
1.  I’ve never been able to get on PIONET, because none of the links I was ever given for it worked.
2.  I was told that it was six-months on the job and full-time status.

So I said as much to the officey-types, and got back the response of:
1.  Here’s a link to PIONET that works, and
2.  You’re right, it is six months, my bad.

The link to PIONET does, in fact work.  But I don’t remember what my initial uid/pw is supposed to be to get the party started, so I’ve contacted someone from the Nerdery to see if they can help with that.  I’ll probably be able to get there Tuesday after I wake up and stuff.

So, now, I’m back to the place of “I get to start school more-or-less when I wanted to,” after a short period of “What the Hell do you mean ‘One year’?”  All is calm, all is bright. 

Of other brief update value:

1.  I got my 5-year plaque at the Secret Harbor Christmas Party last night.  And, once again, someone has thought my daughter was my date.  I love the people I work with, but they’re damned odd sometimes. 

2.  Crappy morning, with a kid blowing out right across my time-to-leave, messing with the conversation I needed to have with my supervisor.

3.  Slept rather solidly this morning, which was good, and the things I used to help with my sleeping seemed to work well.  But I ended up getting up an hour earlier than I needed to because my watch got the button bumped that switches it between daylight and standard time (it takes not just bumping but holding it for like 20 seconds), and I didn’t realize that until I was in the car and ready to go to work. 

4.  Tonight’s swing was pretty good for me, but the kids’ behavior is going pretty south.  You’d think it was getting close to Christmas or something.

Acceptance is good.

I’ve been conditionally
admitted to Capella University’s MS in Human Services program.  It’s an online program, and I hope to start right after the first of the year.  My conditional acceptance has to do with my need to finish up the application packet (job history, mostly) by the end of the first quarter. 

So, a year after finishing school, I’ll be starting school again.  This will probably restrict how much time I can spend goofing off with Challenge Sudoku on Facebook.  Rough stuff.

Life has been worse.

It’s starting to work.

A week ago I started a diabetic med, and, a few days later, another one, because my blood sugar has been that out of control.  It’s been bad a lot — A1C 14.  The highest reading I’ve seen in the past two weeks was in the high 500s, but I immediately tested again and it was more than 100 points lower.  Most of the readings I’ve been doing have been ranging from the 300s to the 400s, without a big noticeable change as I’ve continued taking the meds.

One thing I did notice, though, fairly quickly on is that I’m not as hungry as I have been.  I’ve noticed the past few months that I’m hungry a lot, and that I eat more than most folks do.  I also noticed that I’ve not been putting on a ton of weight — when I did my doctor visit, my weight was 195, and I can’t remember the last time I was under 200 (but I only get on scales for doctors — I track my weight by how my clothes fit, and I’ve been needing to pully my belt harder lately). 

Doing meds with my life is kinda trippy, because I’ve got two that are once a day, and one that’s twice a day, so I have two pill times a day.  One of one timers is scheduled for first thing before breakfast, and the other “may cause drowsiness,” so I set them up to take the first in the AM and the second in the PM.  Except that my sleep pattern is just odd, and, on the weekends, it gets to bizarre, and this was my first weekend with them.  I took my PM one about 2 AM Friday night, my AM one Saturday about 2PM, my PM one Saturday night about 3 AM, and my AM one Sunday about 3:30 PM, and came home to take my PM one (from helping Emily get ready for her math test today) about 3 AM.  And now I’m trying to adjust to a less bizarre schedule, so I took my AM one about fifteen minutes ago.  I think I’m going to be aiming for a 12 and 12 schedule, give or take, but it’s complicated because of the food thing.  This is definitely a work in progress.

But before I took my AM meds just now, I checked my blood sugar, and it was 214 — the lowest reading I’ve had since I started checking it nearly two weeks ago.  Those who know will know that this isn’t a good fasting number, but it’s a lot better than the 348 average I’ve had over the past two weeks.  My metformin (the twice a day) is up to half-dose from the quarter-dose I started on, and I go full dose tomorrow night.  I was less than optimistic that the meds I’m on would be all that effective, because none of them seems to increase my insulin sensitivity, but this morning is a sign that they might work better than I thought.  I’d still like something in an insulin sensitizer if I can, but I’ll be talking to the doctor about that next time I’m there — I should call to schedule the appointment for about two more weeks. 

With things getting a bit funky over the weekend, it was nice to have something going right.  The idea of being able to go more than an hour or two between bathroom trips would really, really be nice.  If the blood pressure med works, I might even be able to donate plasma — that could pay enough for most of a motel room for the weekends, which would reduce some stress about money things. 

It’s been a good day so far.  This was a nice start.