anxiety attack

Do you want to know how to completely ruin someone’s week? Tell her that you’re going to be $400 short on your part of the bills that month, and then sit back and watch what happens. It’s a game my sister seems to like a lot lately.

I love Arianna dearly… most of the time. The times when she’s acting like an irresponsible teenager are not among those when I love her. So this week is not going on the list of favorite sister moments… or this month… or this year even.

I don’t know how much money she thinks I make or what my bills are… what I do know is that she just assumes that I will make everything okay. So she tells me that she’s not going to be able to make her portion of the bills this month and expects me to take care of it. And usually I do. Unfortunately, after a year of carrying her, I’m tapped out and extras are not a possibility. In other words, big sister cannot be the hero this time.

I don’t think I’ve ever resented her more than right now. For the most part I’ve convinced myself that I don’t mind that she took a pay cut to do her stint as a student teacher. In the long run it’s going to benefit the entire family, I say to myself. And on most days I believe it. Except when her “sacrifice” cuts into my nonexistent personal finances, which seems to be always these days.

I covered her car payment for her new car over the summer (she bought it just before the floods in June). We made an arrangement when she bought the car, something we negotiated carefully at the car lot as she salivated over the car of her choice. I had already been covering her insurance since she took the teaching job, just over a year ago. So I agreed to pay her car payments and the added insurance on the 2000 Ford Mustang convertible she bought over the summer. In return she was going to give her 1992 Ford Escort to Juan. Because, essentially, I was using money from my saving account to cover her car bills. That money was put aside to buy Juan a car. Juan turned 16 earlier this year and needs transportation.

Anyway, all this was done with the understanding, talked to death understanding, that she was going to take over the bills in September because I wasn’t going to be able to keep paying for them. Because I knew that by September my savings would have run out and there would be no way I cold continue to pay, much as I would like to. And she knew that… SHE KNEW THAT. And, of course, that’s why she tells me that she can’t cover her bills this month.

I just love the way she does it too. On her way out of the house, her car keys in her hand, my mother waiting outside for her, she tells me, with that practiced casual tone of voice, that because she was off for a month because school was out and she’s not getting paid as a full-time teacher yet, that she’s going to only be able to give me half of her part of the bills this month. Anyway, I could pay her part of the rent or her car, but would have to make up the money for the other part. OK? And then she left me standing there, in shock, while she went out with my mother.

I have to hand it to her, she really knows how to make an exit. Arianna doesn’t like confrontations that might show that she’s actually wrong. Don’t get me wrong, she loves a good fight, but only if it looks like she might actually win. This was one fight she would not have won, mostly because she was acting like a selfish brat.

I was so mad I thought I was going to burst a blood vessel. By the time she made it back in to the house I was beyond livid, having sat there and fumed for so long I couldn’t even think straight.

I knew, however, that a full-frontal assault was not the way to go. The last thing I needed to do was make Arianna defensive. If I did that we would never get anywhere. What would happen was she would get mad at me and use that as an excuse to justify her behavior while I still had to make everything work out.

What I did is approach this the way she would… that is, being devious and manipulative. Which meant that I had to calm down and make sure that I didn’t look like I was mad at her. And I had to create a situation where she wouldn’t be in control. Which meant only one thing… I had to get her out of the house.

So I’m driving myself, my mother and Arianna to Wal-Mart, under the guise that I needed to buy nylons and hair spray and other stuff, and I casually ask my mother if Linda had school on that evening. To which, of course, my mother remarks that she does. I knew that, I just needed an intro to the conversation. And I say nothing more.

Arianna being Arianna has to ask why I wanted to know if Linda was at school. She can’t stand not knowing something – it’s just the way she is. And I know that too. To which I reply, still calm and too casual, that I had something to ask her, but would call her the next at work or maybe email her during the day. And say nothing more.

At this point Arianna asks me what I needed from Linda. I mean, what cold I possibly need from our other sister that she doesn’t already know about? Which she doesn’t actually say, but I now that that’s what she’s thinking. At which point I sigh, frustrated at her not dropping the issue, and tell her that I wanted to see if she could let me borrow some money. But I wasn’t really sure if I was going to ask because it would probably be several months before I could pay her back.

And Arianna stays silent. I don’t’ know if she understands that she’s been set up at that moment. What I do know is that she sees that she just dropped a $400 debt on my lap and a few hours later I’m talking about getting a loan from Linda – one thing leads to another. I don’t have the money and she’s just given me another burden.

That’s the last I heard about it. Until much later that evening when my mother came in to my room and let me know that Arianna asked Linda for a loan to cover her expenses that month. Linda can actually afford it because she just got a big settlement from her home insurance policy and has money to burn for a little while. And I didn’t have to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Arianna didn’t broach the subject with me again. But I have a feeling that she’ll be making her payments from now on, or die trying. Subterfuge is such a great thing sometimes.

sexy shoes

I have this pair of black heels that make me feel great whenever I wear them. Four-inch heels, open toed, black leather. They look really nice, and, while they’re not the most comfortable pair of shoes I own, I feel comfortable wearing them.

They were a frivolous buy. I mean, I’m not going to wear four-inch heels to work. That’s just not practical. And it doesn’t mater how comfortable they are, they’re just not work shoes. I can’t exactly wear them on the days when I’m going to be running from one building to another. I can’t wear them when I have those highly sensible meetings to discuss budget and maintenance schedules and other things. That would just be wrong.

The amazing thing is that I spent more on this pair of heels that I did on any other pair of shoes I own… and I own some very nice quality shoes. But these called my name, I swear they did. And I just couldn’t resist, even though I knew that I just wasn’t going to wear them very often, if at all.

These are my special occasion shoes. The ones I use when I’m going somewhere nice. The ones I use when I want to make a good impression, want to feel good about myself, want to dress up.

They were a frivolous buy, and I’ve never regretted them.

it’s okay now

I refused to take a sick day, which isn’t really news… at least it isn’t for anyone who knows me. I’m not sick… or rather, I wasn’t sick, haven’t been sick… whatever. The swelling on my cheek is going down and the fever is gone. I’m well now or very nearly there.

I never made it out to my doctor’s office. Even after I got the damned HMO chaos settled, I didn’t think I needed to see the doctor because I’m feeling better. It didn’t become a big deal this time

{{I’ve decided that my HMO representatives are not nice people. After keeping me in “hold hell” for longer than I thought could be possible, they then proceeded to tell me nothing, over and over again. Four attempts at a conversation and a long, long time later I was finally able to get an answer: my doctor is now on their network once again and I’m able to go to him as usual. I’m just glad that I didn’t have an emergency or a real need for a doctor. I could have been in real trouble.}}

Very few people have commented on the Band-Aid decorating my jaw. I’ve been wearing my hair down, using the see-through Band-Aids, and that seems to have aided in not drawing attention to it. Or maybe people are being incredibly tactful and just not saying anything.

Either way, I’m glad I haven’t had to answer a lot of questions about what happened and how it happened. This infection thing is difficult to explain. And embarrassing. I’d rather keep it to myself until I no longer can. Besides, I wasn’t really sick.

the third time

{{Sigh.}} I have another infection. Those of you who have been following my life know that this is significant. It means that there’s something really wrong. It means that I have something to worry about. I hate it when I have something real to worry about.

What it is is a small lesion on my right cheek. It’s swelling and hot and feels like it’s getting worse by the moment. I’ve been applying heat and moisture and antibiotic ointment like clockwork. And worrying… I’ve been worrying a lot.

This is the second time I’ve had this on one of my cheeks, and the third time I’ve had this type of infection (that I remember). And while it doesn’t seem to be expanding like those I’ve had before, it’s there and I need to deal with it. And the ironic part is that I don’t even have a doctor anymore.

Did I mention the part about hating HMOs? My HMO had a disagreement with the physician’s group my doctor belongs to and, as a result, cancelled their contract. As of a few days ago, I an without a chosen primary care physician. Which basically means that until I choose a new one I can’t go in for a regular doctor’s visit. I haven’t chosen a new doctor. There hasn’t been time.

My insurance company tells me, via snail mail, that they are trying to work out something with my doctor, independent of his physician’s group, that would allow me to continue going to him. I hope that works out. I’ve just gotten used to this doctor and hate the idea of having to break in someone new.

So here I am now, with insurance but not able to use it. Sick, or potentially sick, and stuck until the paperwork gods are appeased. Damn! I’ll let you know what happens.

the second time

Let’s fast-forward to July and the second time the mysterious infection made an appearance. This time it was my elbow. Even though I sort of knew what to expect the second time around, it was definitely not a pleasant experience.

A scalpel and an anesthetic were involved. Bandages and discomfort were involved. And there was pain, there was definitely pain. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The whole thing started with my hitting my elbow on my desk when I moved something. It wasn’t even that big of a thing, didn’t hurt much, but I scrapped it a little bit and unknowingly started a chain of events.

It was, of course, a Friday. Doesn’t it seem that weekends are when you get sick or catastrophes happen?

Anyway, when my elbow started to swell a little I didn’t think anything about it. Bruises swell up a little sometimes. It didn’t really hurt. It was kind of stiff and uncomfortable, but that was it. Of course, if I had been able to see my elbow clearly I would have worried. But, because of the angle, I couldn’t, so I didn’t.

I couldn’t move my arm when I woke up Saturday morning. By then, my elbow was warm and the swelling was inching its way out, up and down my arm. I knew then that this was more than just a scrape.

Being the self-help type, I applied hot, wet towels to the area and put a band-aid on with antibiotic ointment. All things I learned from the last time. And I prayed for the best. Of course, God wasn’t listening to that particular prayer.

On Sunday it was much worse. I knew, with that foreboding yucky feeling, that I was going to have to be at the doctor’s office first thing in the morning on Monday. There was no way around it. The last time my doctor told me that if the infection had gotten worse I would have had to be hospitalized with an IV feeding antibiotics into my body. With that image firmly in my mind I knew that I wasn’t going to take any chances.

Of course, my luck being what it was, on Monday my family was leaving for a two-week trip to Detroit. And I was going to be the responsible person and stay in Houston to earn a living. That meant that I had the place all to myself. And that meant that the fates had to strike down and make me incapacitated for the duration.

The doctor completely freaked out when I went in on Monday. He mumbled stuff about the placement of the infection and the dangers to my elbow and other medical crap. And, before I knew what was going on, I was anesthetized and he was cutting a hole into the infection to drain it. Let me tell you, I’ve had root canals that were more pleasant. Hell, pretty much everything in my life has been more pleasant than that.

I did the same routine as before — antibiotics at home, warm wet cloths and antibiotic ointment under bandages.

At the follow-up my doctor told me that if it happened again he was going to have to send me to an infectious disease specialist. Great, just what I needed to hear. And this time it left a scar.

And, of course, it happened again. There would be no point to this story if it hadn’t happened again.