Stuff circa January 8, 2011

Dating I went on a date a few days ago, and it was heartbreaking. It was a stark reminder of why I rarely ever go on a date. I battled for ninety minutes to be funny, engaging, and charming. She often seemed genuinely interested in me. I rattled off feelings about being on dialysis and transplant lists that I hadn’t shared with anyone. I, briefly, had the sense that it was ok that I hadn’t been to other countries, held an advanced degree, read five books a month, or looked like every healthy bike-riding guy who comes into Whole Foods. There were five or ten minutes when I had self-confidence. But later that night, I received the “I don’t think we’re a match” email. Rather than pick myself up, dust myself off, do whatever one is supposed to go to keep functioning, I took the rejection as a gravely-wounding piercing. I did not react as such by choice. This humiliating numbness is a physiological reaction I’ve been getting since I was in grade school. Allow myself a moment of being open to something amazing, and I will inevitably experience crushing agony. This never changes. At 35 and stuck on dialysis, the cumulative weight of all of these rejections is indescribable. I do not know anyone who gets how badly this feels.

Housekeeping I had been so excited that I was finally, after years of thinking about it, going to get a housekeeping service to come and clean up my place. I had been reluctant, in part, for so many years, because I feared that such a service would be unable to do a whole lot without me first doing a hefty bit of pre-cleaning. How can they clean the floors if I don’t remove the clutter? How can they clean the kitchen if I don’t do the dishes? But the same fatigue and paralysis that prevent me from going through a stack of junk prevents me from vacuuming the floor. If I can do the first part, why do I need to hire someone for the second? But I reasoned to myself that there must be services to clean the homes of those who pass away or those who simply live in extreme filth and can’t help themselves at all. My place isn’t nearly that bad. These services must know how to help me. But my original fears were realized. When a rep came by to discuss my options, I was told that, no, the cleaners would not throw anything away. They would not do my dishes. They would not pick up piles of stuff. They’d do cleaning and dusting of areas that were already clear, thus validating my theory that only people who have reasonably clean homes actually hire cleaning services in the first place. I still plan to use the service, but my enthusiasm has most deflated. The phrase “putting lipstick on a pig” comes to mind. I’m going to pay them a couple hundred bucks to make my baseboards shiny. The place will still look like a dump.

Work Let’s assume no one from work is reading this. I am overwhelmed by my new job everyday. No one has told me I am failing to meet expectations. No one has told me I am doing anything wrong. But I just assume that I am. My brain is not up for following phone conversations with a dozen people scattered across the world. My brain wants to engage is problem-solving off in its own space and does not want to be interrupted by endless meetings and endless exercises in documenting what I haven’t had the chance to even do yet. And then there’s the small matter of, everyday, wondering how I will put in a solid effort alongside my thrice-weekly dialysis sessions. My body and mind are exhausted, and there seems to way for them to rebound as long as I rely on a machine to filter out toxins from my body. Sounds like a bad time to have changed jobs! Except my last job was soul-sucking; I needed to move on. I don’t regret taking the new job. I regret that I don’t have 2-3 years of savings so I can just do what most dialysis patients do, which is to go on disability.

Dialysis I had figured out what made me so horribly uncomfortable at dialysis, but I never shared the resolution. First, I didn’t want to dwell on how the medical establishment had failed me. Second, dialysis did not turn into a picnic, and it just didn’t seem useful to comment on how dialysis had become just a little less intolerable. At it’s best, I’ll have competent techs and a quiet, pain-free treatment. But, at it’s best, it’s four hours out of the heart of my day that will cause my body to feel uneven for another couple of hours and fail to give me any noticeable boost in energy or affect.

Metablogging I post the croutons as a reminder to myself of a part of myself that I hope still exists, even if it’s easy to cast it off as foolish and naive–the young, unapologetic romantic. Or something like that. I still mourn Toastie Radio, my attempt in the early part of the 2000s to share the music I liked with the world, which at some points, like then there’d be 40-50 concurrent global listeners, came close to being gratifying. In the end, it was a failure, a colossal waste of time and money…and the currency of optimism, of which I’ve always been short-changed.

I posted an unflattering shot of my gut because I wanted to document the time prior to my nephrectomy surgery. I have profile shots that make that distended abdomen far more grotesque. Then again, those shots may be from 15-20 pounds ago. It’s unfortunate that I can be 15-20 pounds down from my heaviest weight and not feel the slightest bit of accomplishment. I don’t feel anything, because my body is weak and completely lacks agility. I’m a sloth. And I’m clearly not having any success on the dating circuit.

I post about politics as a reminder that I’m thinking about these things. I regret that I can’t write intelligently about these issues. It’s much simpler to just throw up a link to someone who had written something intelligent.

When I write a long post like this were I’m stressing about the consequences of my writing, I must put to the back of my mind the thought of who may be reading this. Family members read this. People solely interested in kidney disease and dialysis read this. Former coworkers read this. (I hope no current coworkers read this). If I worry about how I’m coming across, then I’m writing a different blog. Perhaps one day I’ll have a blog dedicated to a particular topic, and I’ll write it in a professional matter, and it won’t be self-absorbed.

For now, above all else, this blog is a coping mechanism for everything. I am not always explicit about how a given post is meant to be therapeutic. Ideally, I’d be writing more. I’d be writing just like this. Granted, it’s 3:52AM, and I don’t strive to be up at this hour on a regular basis. But the benefit of 3:52AM is the lack of inhibition. I’m just writing what comes to mind, and I’m going to hit the Publish button, and this will be up there in the morning. I can go back to sleep with a far-clearer head.

Back to the square root of negative one

I was very excited to share with blog readers that I was thrilled to be in a relationship with a wonderful woman. I appreciate that so many people were rooting for us. Sadly, it has not worked out. I record this entry simply because this blog generally does reflect major happenings in my life. However, it’s not appropriate for me to elaborate.

Make someone happy

I am pleased to proclaim that, for the past 16 days, I have been dating a fantastic woman. Wow, even I’ve found someone! Perhaps the world really is ending in 2012.

Now, I don’t plan to do much blogging about this relationship. I feel enough pressure as things are to be the good guy she deserves without feeling like I owe the Reader anything here. I’ve already screwed up at least once, but fortunately she has at least a small supply of patience.

It’s rare to find me happy. But she has made me happy a healthy amount over the past 16 days. She says the sweetest things to me which make me feel like ten times the person I was before I met her. She’s so much fun to be around that I even had fun at a fashion show benefit. I’m very attracted to her. She’s simply an extraordinary woman. And I’m very grateful to have her in my life right now.

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Attention-getting Match.com headline

7-12-2008

toastie
I’ve got the most awesome albumin in the Triangle
34-year-old man
Durham, North Carolina, United States

A couple of weeks ago, I had by bed moved such that it would not face out into the large clinic space, with all of the other beds, and, most importantly, all of the lights. I had my bed rotated 90 degrees such that it lays parallel to the baclwell, and there’s no one parallel to me. The new arrangement, in conjunction with a new medication plan seem to have imporved my ability to get some sleep without high anxiety.

I take one pill when I first arrive to knock my anxiety level back a bit. Then I take a stinky homepathic remedy that a friend recommended, a substance that is supposed to aid in sleep. Then, about 30-50 minutes before I adspire to fall aleep, I take the important med.

The processs, which has not been help up for physician review, seem to achieve my goal of getting to sleep by 11:30, and then allowing me to get 5 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The problem is that 5 1/2 hours of slepe comes up short of the 7 or 8 that are recommended normally for sleepers, and particularly for sleepers who take that important med/ The process of getting my stuff together and going outside to the cold, and having to drive then ten minues back home, that process wakes me up. But then I’m sure my body could use another 90-120 minutes of sleep.

Unfortunately, while I tried to get back to sleep between 6 and 6:30, my body gradually falls back into fatigue, which I’m fully immersed in by 7:30 or 8. By that time, it is time to get to work if I want to make it on time. I can play with the snooze a couple of time. but the decision remains the same. Do I force myself out of what seems like a stupor, and get into work at a reasonable time but go about my activities in a daze? Or do I send the email in that says I’m not feeling weel, and that I’ll tryto be in by noon? That takes pressure off, and I can get what I feel is much-needed rest. But I do lose in the work hours calculation, since an eight-hour day is unlikely to follow.

So I think I’ve been able to manage to remain calm during the noise of the first couple hours of dialysis, and then I can fall aslee and get between 5 and 1.2 hours, which is good, but apparently not good enough. My body really feels the next for extra 3-4 hours after I get home. I have, on past occasions, tried to consume some caffeine on the way home, but that hasn’t prevented me from crashing.

I’m not sure of what strategy to take going forward. I could try to take all my sleep aids as soon as I arrive, but then the pressure is on to do nothing but sleep for the eight hours. Between my iPhone and the television, there is plenty to keep me occupied for the first two hours. But maybe I should consider trying to get myself to sleep right away, before the chatter has stopped and the lights have shut off.

I do apparently have one of the best albumin measures that my doctor has ever scene in the his dialysis clinic experience. Mine was last read as 5.2.

According to lifeoptions.com ,

The level of albumin (protein) in the blood is a measure of good nutrition. Research shows that people with kidney disease who become malnourished and do not get enough protein may suffer from many complications. It is especially important for people on low protein diets to have their serum protein levels measured.

Normal serum albumin levels in healthy people are 3.6-5.0 g/dL. The goal for people on dialysis is an albumin level greater than 4.0 g/dL.

So I’m better than healthy. I have outstanding albumin levels! There’s something for the old Match.com profile.

[I see lots of typos…I shall correct them in the morning]

I’m smart and I’m a snappy dresser

This weekend, both a dialysis tech and a 10-year-old girl asked me, “Are you married? Why not?”

I felt like handing them a 50-pound bound version of my memoirs. “Read this; it should become crystal clear”.

I still have a Match.com account. It’s painful. I reason that it’s more painful not to.

I don’t suppose anyone wants to set me up with someone…no?…that’s ok..I’ll manage…