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September 30th, 2004

You know it’s never a good thing when you haven’t posted in so long that your index page is blank because all the entries have fallen off.

It’s been like that, lately. I feel like my personal index page is blank and I don’t have anything really useful to say beyond “Gee I wish my pills worked better” and “Insurance companies really suck” and “Thank God I’m getting a massage tomorrow.”

But I have purchased some really good books recently, so I guess I’ll write about that.

I’m not usually a big fan of novels involving vampires. The genre hasn’t really been my “thing” since I lean more towards light-hearted mysteries and the occasional fantasy novel. Browsing through Powells recently, this series happened to catch my eye: a vampire/mystery series by Charlaine Harris. The books were supposed to have a little less horror and a little more humour, so I bought the first one, Dead Until Dark. True to the reviews, I thought it was really funny, really charming, and quite enjoyable to read. Since there are at least three more in the series already in print, it looks like this will keep me busy for a while.

On the same wall, but back in fantasy/sci-fi, I found a book with another premise that sounded interesting: a novel with a heavy fantasy/magic element set in Regency Englad. One of my guilty pleasures is reading romance novels set in that time period. I figured this one was probably a little less guilty so I picked it up: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede. As an aside, I’ve read another of Stevermer’s books, A College of Magics and really enjoyed it.

It’s kind of nice to have some expendable income. I don’t feel guilty for buying paperbacks new, instead of waiting (sometimes for years) for a used copy to turn up.

Posted by Claire at 10:56 AM | Page Turners | Comments (2) | Tweet This Post

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September 20th, 2004

I come from a long line of women with an inherent distrust and dislike of doctors. At this point, a lot of it comes from my mom, and with good reason.

She went to school as an undergrad with the pre-meds, who apparently would do things like sabotage other students’ work to better their chances of a good grade (the lovely bell curve in use at the time).

As a kid, my experiences with doctors weren’t much better. The primary care doctors we had for a long time were good at first, but slowly became HMO-ized and the quality of care went down. They had a bad habit of telling you to stay home if you called up sick and needed an appointment, pretty much no matter what you said — little kid has a 104 degree fever? Oh you probably just took her temperature wrong, stay home (worst bladder infection the emergency room doc had seen in a four year old). Mom is complaining of intense abdominal pain? Probably just gas (a day later her appendix ruptures and she needs emergency surgery). Can’t practice with the swim team until a doctor checks out your shoulder pain? We’ll see you in five weeks (even though the season will be over by then).

After several years receiving excellent care in more non-traditional settings (student health centers and clinics for low-income people) it is with great trepidation that I approach choosing a primary care physician. The timing couldn’t be worse. Choosing a doctor when you’re stuck in a depression rut is probably not the best thing, because choosing a doctor is stressful and stress makes depression worse (or at least, feel worse).

Without any better information, I’m left with a list of doctors in my geographic area (because I want one near where I live), with very little information about them beyond where they went to school, and I have to call them up and ask if they’re taking new patients. This is someone who is going to handle my health care! Why isn’t there some kind of doctor clearinghouse where people can post reviews of doctors in the area?

So, if you have a great primary care doctor (female) who is Providence-preferred, in NW Portland or downtown, who might be taking new patients… would you share? :)

Posted by Claire at 03:10 PM | Days Go By | Comments (0) | Tweet This Post

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September 19th, 2004
Depression Sucks

It creeps up slowly. At some point, I realize that my irritability and anger and weepiness and moodiness has been getting worse and it’s not just a bad day or a bad week. Then something stupid sets me off and it’s two am and I’m sitting on the bathroom floor and I’ve been crying for an hour because I can’t stop.

Depression really sucks. Apparently, the medication can lose its effectiveness or stop working. I have to find a new doctor. DH’s job comes with health insurance, and since they’re paying for most of it, it doesn’t make sense to keep the insurance offered by my work — they’ll add the cost of the premium to my paycheck instead. So I have to find a new doctor, because DH’s employers have Providence and I have Kaiser.

I don’t know what she’ll say, but it’s likely I’ll have to try a different medication or she’ll add another one to the mix. That sucks too. I like what I’m taking now (except for the not working part) and the other drugs available have less pleasant side effects. Bleh.

We went to the market yesterday, for the first time in about a month. I did well, had some repeat customers who liked the new scents. I have more new scents coming, which will be cool. Soapmaking always seems to cheer me up, and selling soap definitely makes me feel good about myself. I have a successful business — I’m not stupid or a loser or a big fat idiot (the stuff your brain can come up with when you’re depressed is really amazing. It’s like majoring in self-hatred in college).

It was COLD yesterday, compared to summertime. Where did it go? It’s like jumping from summer to late October in a matter of a few days. The trees outside are definitely turning their leaves in a big hurry. I love the view; we can see the Fremont Bridge in one direction, and we’re high enough (fourth floor) to see lots of treetops. I bought myself a winter coat the other day — I’ll be WARM this winter for the first time in several years. It’s a Columbia Sportswear coat, waterproof and with a removable liner. I’m getting ready with the bread machine (mmm, hot bread) and soup recipes are being dug out of recipe books. I think hot bread and hot soup are my two favorite things about fall and winter. Easy to make, and yum.

At any rate, I’m experienced enough with my particular brand of mental illness to know I need to get some help and for once, I can go to a regular doctor instead of charity care. (Not that charity care isn’t quality — I’m probably going to miss how nice and caring and helpful the doctors I’ve seen have been). It’s somewhat ironic — the clinics my organization helps with technical assistance and advocacy are the same clinics I’ve visited when I didn’t have health insurance. In some small way, I feel like I’m able to really pay them back for the help I’ve received in the past.

Posted by Claire at 12:07 PM | Days Go By | Comments (46) | Tweet This Post

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September 6th, 2004
When All Else Fails

It’s been a busy week. DH is enjoying his new job, although getting both of us out of the house and on the bus at the right time is proving to be entertaining… This is the first time both of us have worked full-time at the same time, with basically the same schedule. We get evenings and weekends together, which is nice.

More stuff has been unpacked. We went to a housewares store and bought a silk comforter, which was a first. I’ve never spent so much on bedding before. It becomes a really weird feeling, actually. Theoretically, I disagree with the premises of consumerism: buy more things and you will be happy. I’ve spent the better part of the last month getting rid of THINGS, the cruft of six years of moving stuff from place to place without ever getting rid of anything. It’s the poverty mentality I was raised with — you can’t throw/give that away, you might need it! Eventually that attitude starts to rule your life though and the things start piling up and taking over.

On the other hand, I don’t like the alternative — get rid of it, because you can always buy a new one (now that we can actually afford such a luxury). Or, get rid of your old, crappy stuff so you can replace it with new, shiny stuff, that eventually gets old. Do we plan on replacing our stuff sooner? Or what? I guess that’s why it’s called “disposable” income. I don’t like that very much.

At some point, it will be necessary for me to figure out what it means to be able to buy the things I have always wanted to buy, but never could. To stop being the person with her nose pressed to the window looking in, to being the person who walks in and says “I’ll take it!”

I believe that my Higher Power must have been paying extra special attention to my little family this summer. We rented this studio apartment before DH got the job — and now that we *can* buy all the THINGS we’ve wanted, we won’t because we’ll have no place to put them. When all else fails, we are forced to moderate in quantity.

So we have quality instead. I like this. But with quality, I also want longevity. I don’t WANT to replace my bedspread sooner, I want this nice one I just bought to last longer. Is that possible, or is everything made cheaper and crappier so you buy more more often…? I hope not. We’ve been willing to purchase nicer things for our studio, and I like that. When it comes down to brass tacks, I turn around and walk out of stores without actually buying anything, because I know that it isn’t that I really wanted what was being sold; I wanted it because I couldn’t have it. Now that I can, I’m satisfied in that knowledge.

I hate those people who love to tell you
Money is the root of all that kills
They have never been poor
They have never had the joy of a welfare christmas
–Everclear, “I Will Buy You A New Life”

Money buys security in this country. It buys health insurance, life insurance, better food, warmer coats, more comfortable shoes, medication. Ultimately, people need to find happiness in this security if they can afford it — that’s really what makes me happy, not the things I can buy. I can worry a lot less about everything — bills, loans, how I’m going to pay for my medication… Security IS happiness, in my book, because it frees up all this energy for positive thinking.

Anyway… it’s an adjustment in thinking, a total shift. It’s been an interesting week.

Oh yeah, and I lost two months of data at work last weekend, when my computer died. I spent the week trying to patch it back together. Back-ups equal security equal happiness. Note to self: do your own back-ups, regularly. Losing all your email sucks.

Posted by Claire at 10:42 PM | Days Go By | Comments (1) | Tweet This Post

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