Archive | healthcare RSS feed for this section

The Moonlit Road & Other Stuff

14 Apr

I haven’t updated my blog in a while. The main two reasons for this are that I started school full time in autumn, pursuing a 4-year degree in 2 at an accelerated (and expensive!) art school for Creative Writing in Entertainment (TV, Film, Games). I’ve also been taking care of my significant other, who is out of work on disability at the moment. He had a horrific ice skating accident and managed to bounce his head off ice so hard, he got a concussion, brain bleed, brain contusion, rear lobe cyst and frontal lobe blood clot. Go big or go home, right?

We went to three hospitals before someone got it right. The first (Trinity) said he needed surgery immediately or he’d die. The second wouldn’t even give him the MRI he’d been sent over in an ambulance to receive, since they said he simply had a migraine. They gave him a migraine ‘cocktail’ he had an allergic reaction to and sent him home. (Don’t ever send anyone you love to Tampa Community Hospital.) Tampa General was a long wait, but worth it. Then came The Concussion Institute and various neurologist appointments. A second stay in the hospital to administer IV drugs round-the-clock to shrink brain swelling and address the migraines.

Brain injuries can hard to properly diagnose and take a long time to heal. Additionally, there are a lot of things to deal with. He can’t drive and has brutal head pain. There are issues walking around, speaking, vertigo, light and noise sensitivity. Then there are the personality swings. Emotional, hostile, anxiety, tantrums. Kind of like the worst bipolar behavioral mood swings you can imagine. He’s been wound up like a spring and the slightest thing makes him explode.  He has been irrational, unpredictable and violent to live with and it’s been trying most days. He picks fights over laundry or how the refrigerator is organized. I’m on great stabilizing medications for my bipolar disorder, but there’s a cap. Things around here have been able to push me to over the edge and that calm, cool reserve I now have dissipates as fast as the blink of an eye,  which has been alarming. I raised my medication a few months ago, but there’s only so much one can take at times. I am stretched to the breaking point and trying to do the best I can to take care of him.

There’s concern (read: he’s anxious as fuck) about being able to go back to work. He put himself through school as an adult and his career as an app developer isn’t possible at the moment. Screens and monitors make him worse. Money has been a challenge with lack of funds and medical bills. I’ve had to take on much more around here. There are a ton of appointments to drive him each week. It’s been really, really hard. A (very sweet) friend set up a GoFundMe for us back in February. If you want to donate or share, it’s certainly appreciated. Link:  GoFundMeMedicalBills

Being a wrestler with pre-existing conditions, I’ve never been able to afford insurance and always opted to pay in cash when things got bad. (Or I’ve gone to other countries for treatment in cash.) I’ve also gotten my prescriptions overseas to save money. Now I’m insured and have had a brutal and up close look at this messy bullshit we call a healthcare system. What a joke. After using healthcare in Japan, England, Canada, Germany and various other countries, where the aim is to a.) get your diagnosed quickly and b.) tell you how to prevent coming back, I can only surmise that the reason Americans put up with this is ignorance. We don’t travel and have no idea what other countries have, so we  have no clue how shitty our system truly is. With zero preventative care, several appointments just to pinpoint an issue, lack of addressing other issues (environmental, food), medical willingness to write a designer brand script for all ailments, referrals needed for specialists and insurance company denials to battle. Let’s not forget that we get to fork out lots of hard earned paycheck money for our health insurance and hand over even more in person for high deductibles on each office visit. The ever pervasive a-pill-for-everything mentality couple with the For Profit inflated costs, and it’s no wonder we have the highest priced heath at the lowest quality care. It’s frustrating. I wish others could see things for what they ARE. There’s a valid reason no other country has a healthcare system like ours.

Anyway, I’ve started writing more fiction and this is a Flash Fiction assignment I had recently. I’m new at this, so I’m living and learning!

The Moonlit Road

hitchhiker

The cold air cut into my bones every time a car passed. I’d been walking this densely wooded road for nearly two hours.

Jesus H., I thought. What else can go wrong? The few who were out that night didn’t so much as tap their brakes. Maybe a bear can put me out of my misery.

A black pickup truck rolled to a stop.

“Where you headed?” The man had dark hair and a solid, muscular build.

“Town,” I replied. “Thanks. I’m Dave.”

“Tom.” He shook my hand. “That’s where I’m going after I make a quick stop. Did you break down?” His face and faded jeans reminded me of James Dean.

“No,” I said, shifting uncomfortably. “I…uh, had a fight with my wife. We were out this way, but she got pissed and took the car.”

He snorted. “Been there, friend. Been there.” He cracked the window and lit a cigarette.

“I haven’t. She just started acting…I don’t know. Weird. Different. I think she’s cheating on me. When I confronted her, she went crazy and accused me of cheating on her…and then she took the car.”

“Are you?” he asked.

“What? Cheating on her? No. I’m not.”

“Well, why do you think she’s cheating on you?’ Tom asked.

“Standard issue stuff. She’s suddenly working late, not returning texts or answering my calls, and she’s going out with supposed friends I’ve never met. Seems like bullshit.”

I’d also found new lingerie in her dresser. And in her car, ashes and a licorice gum wrapper. She hates licorice.

We drove in silence while the moonlit highway stretched before us. The occasional car passed, dampening the steady chirping of crickets that filled the air. Tom’s cigarette glowed in the shadowy cab. There was a Yankee Candle air freshener swaying from the rear-view mirror. Tahitian Breeze. It was slightly overpowering. Everything was at the moment. My stomach roiled and I was damp with feverish sweat.

“What are you going to do?” asked Tom.

“I don’t know,” I admitted, staring at the empty road. “We’ve been married fourteen years. I really don’t know how to be anything else. I’m just praying I’m wrong.” I could see Tom nod out of the corner of my eye. He took a final drag on his cigarette, flicked the stub and rolled his window up. The crisp breeze had been refreshing.

“Maybe you’re wrong.”

The lights from town became visible through the windshield. We passed McDonald’s. The greasy smell of fries which normally made me salivate now made me queasy. I needed to talk to her. I had to know what was going on.

“Here’s my quick stop,” Tom said. He turned onto a local road.

“Oh. I live down this way, too,” I said.

If we drive by the house, I can see if she actually went home.

Tom folded a piece of gum into his mouth. With a jolt I realized that the crumpled wrapper was Black Jack gum.

Licorice.

Before I could say anything, Tom pulled into 58 Teaberry Lane. My house.

“Be just a minute,” he said, leaving the truck running.

My heart felt as if it was going to pound out of my chest. She ran out to him. He kissed her. He gave her something and she threw her arms around his neck. She couldn’t see me behind the blinding headlights.

I’m going to be sick.

“Who’s with you?” She asked, squinting through the bright headlights.

“Nobody. Just giving a guy a ride. Gotta go, but I’ll call you later,” he said as he watched her go inside and shut the door.

Nobody. Should I throw this thing into reverse and drive off? Let him take me to a motel? Beat the shit out of him? Did he even know she was married? Did he know I existed? That I am not ‘NOBODY’?

I stared at the dashboard and tried to make sense of my racing thoughts.

“Okay,” Tom asked, as he opened the door. “Where should I drop you off?”

“Here.” I pulled out my keys.

“Are you going to walk the rest of the way?”

“Yep.”

I took a deep breath and tried to steady my shaking hands and lurching abdomen. What the fuck. It’s over. Everything. Making dinner together. Sharing the bathroom in the morning.  TV series marathons. Cuddling in bed. Our future. Without looking at Tom, I got out of the truck, stood tall, crossed the final agonizing yards of my driveway, and entered my house.

 

Owned by April Hunter.

Twitter @AprilHunter

Instagram @realAprilHunter

Facebook: AprilHunterOfficial

Site: http://www.AprilHunter.com

Advertisements

The Man In The Box-Won’t You Save Me?

28 Jan

David Bowie. Glen Frey. Lemmy. Scott Weiland. The sudden deaths of some of the most beloved musicians hit pretty hard and I wonder if these artists knew how much they’d impacted our lives.

For me, this last month has been a bittersweet reminder of a brilliant musician who received virtually zero mention at the time of his death.

tumblr_nq1y1zLb3l1qgb18xo1_500

Most people have no idea that Alice In Chains’ front man, Layne Staley, died around the same time Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes did. The press covered her passing extensively. Every channel, paper and radio station mentioned Lopes, while running TLC video clips and songs 24/7.  Of course, Lisa died from a sudden auto accident while Layne died the typical rock star death at age 34 from a mixture of heroin and cocaine.

I’m not sure how many are aware that Layne Staley was dead for two weeks before anyone realized it.

Two weeks.

When I learned of this, my heart broke. How is it possible that someone who touched so many could have gone unnoticed for so long?

 

I wish I could just hug you all, but I’m not gonna.” –Layne Staley

d3d6eeefe3745b83144d950faaeab6e0

Alice In Chains has been a profound and unique grunge rock band, instantly recognizable largely due to Staley’s voice more than their overall sound. When you hear a song by Tool, it’s obvious it’s Tool by their uniquely defined musical style. With AIC, it was more about Staley’s lilting vocals. 

ebd7d75c4c1a975caa0123700cd73151Alice In Chains (and Layne himself) was the true leader of the Seattle Sound grunge movement. They were Sleze in 1984, which morphed into AIC and later became the super-group Mad Season. They influenced and opened doors for Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam.

Unlike much of what came out of Seattle, AIC was inclined towards rock in addition to alternative in genre. Their heavier sound, array of styles and soulful lyrics struck a chord within me, and I’ve never wavered in my love for them.

 

“Man In The Box”

I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me

Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus Christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut

I’m the dog who gets beat
Shove my nose in shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me…

 

What I know about Layne’s death is two things: Layne had two families; his blood ties and his band members. He was also a drug user and recluse with a mental disorder.

Anyone who has had to deal with a person struggling with any or all of these issues knows the tendency for that person to alienate everyone who loves them, which is often a harsh reality. We are hard to love.

I am speaking from experience, as an entertainer and someone who has experience in living with mental disorders. My father had one. I’ve inherited it. I’ve seen both sides of this kind of damage.

f4bda0790eaf737aa29ede9017b743cbThe fact that not one single person from his life noticed he was gone for two weeks shatters me.

Even if he’d told everyone to fuck off, just die, leave him alone – did no one love him enough to swing by and check on him? Bring him a meal? Pick up some groceries?

Nothing? Nothing at all?

 

“We started this band as kids, and as time has gone on, we’ve grown and are learning to accommodate each others’ differences.” – Layne Staley

 

There are lessons to be gleaned from losing Layne Staley. Instead of sitting back and judging the situation; blaming drugs, calling him a fuck-up, writing it off to “just another classic rock star death” or practicing Schadenfreude, we should view it as an opportunity to save someone else.

 

“When everyone goes home, you’re stuck with yourself. People have a right to ask questions and dig deep when you’re hurting them and things around you.” – Layne Staley

 

288050e9f560257bcdc70d7ae5ad397fDying alone and forgotten are valid human fears. Alice In Chains sold over eleven MILLION albums. Layne Staley touched an innumerable mass of people from all over the world. If this can happen to someone as known and beloved as Layne, it could happen to anyone.

 

“There are lasting consequences for using drugs. I’ll still be paying for my prior use.” – Layne Staley

 

Layne was introduced to what would ultimately be his cause of death by his own father at the age of twenty.  His father was an opiate addict and used with his son. This is a harsh lesson to wrap one’s head around.

But my main reason for writing this is to make people aware.

Bandmate and best friend Mike Starr bore the brunt of the guilt regarding Layne’s death before he passed in 2011 from a prescription drug overdose. He was the last person to see Staley alive and the two had argued, with Starr storming out and Layne calling after him, “Not like this. Don’t leave like this.”

Reportedly, they argued over Starr insisting on calling 911for help and Layne threatening to sever their friendship if he did. 

 

1af52a92f86842c61d957e4c0ac7e9c4

When someone we love pushes us away, perhaps there’s more to it and we’re unable to see what’s really going on. Maybe we shouldn’t LET them have their space.

People often push away as a test – to see if you’ll push back, to see if you care. It’s common for many to feel unworthy of love. It’s especially common for those with a mental disorder, since we tend to hurt those around us the most. We simply don’t feel deserving. We need you to push back.

Talk is cheap.  Anyone can say, “I love you, you mean the world to me.” But can you show it? Will you do what needs to be done?

6558bdd586384b723d48edb309a40391In Layne’s case, no one pushed back. He is dead now because of this fact.

It’s pretty fucking simple. If someone had physically removed drugs and needles from his living area, watched over him, fed him – he would be alive. He clearly wasn’t able to take care of himself. It was no surprise how sick he was to those around him. Mike Starr tried. But in these situations, effort doesn’t mean shit. Only results count. If he’d had cancer, there would have been help. But he had a mental illness where he turned to “self-medicating”, which is why Layne was cast away.  

Kurt Cobain, who admitted he was manic-depressive (which is now called bipolar disorder), died in a not dissimilar way. His suicide note stated that his baby daughter would be better off without him in her life. “For her life will be so much happier without me.”

“God Am”
Dear God, how have you been then?
I’m not fine, fuck pretending
All of this death your sending
Best throw some free heart mending
Invite you in my heart, then
When done, my sins forgiven?
This God of mine relaxes
World dies I still pay taxes.

A lot of things aren’t understood about mental illness and suicide, but I can tell you one thing for certain; No one wants to die. They simply don’t want to live in the state they are in any longer. There is a vast difference between wanting to die and not wanting to live. When someone is suffering from something that goes with them no matter where they are and affects everyone around them badly, sometimes they hold on to a belief that the only way out is death.

hqdefault

Layne’s death is extremely sad on so many levels. Wasted talent, wasted youth, but mostly it’s a constant reminder that our society doesn’t seem to care about the mentally ill. It’s felt we are disposable, to be shamed and anything that happens to us, it’s likely deserved. I’ve seen this attitude in everything from drug overdoses to police beatings.

No matter what we give to the world, it really doesn’t matter.

Or does it?

Push back. Prove me wrong.

 

“Every article I see (about myself) is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this – that ain’t my title. I don’t do much else but stay in my hotel room. Music is the doorway that has led me to drawing, photography, and writing. Music is the career I’m lucky enough to get paid for, but I have other desires and passions.” –Layne Staley

 

 

My hope for whoever is reading this is to have you recognize signs. When someone we care for is ‘acting out’ or being reclusive, maybe we shouldn’t take it so personally, get so angry or give up so quickly.  Think of the bigger picture; that you love this person. Despite what they’re doing, saying or how they’re acting, they need you.

Staley’s last interview: http://www.mtv.com/news/1470138/late-alice-in-chains-singer-layne-staleys-last-interview-revealed-in-new-book/

 

Thank you to Hubert O’Hearn, Brett Schwan & Joe Mays for taking the time to edit. Time is valuable.

 

tumblr_mpt00wk8RH1qj5z09o1_400

Layne Staley: August 22, 1967 – April 5, 2002. NOT FORGOTTEN. 

 

 

                                                    

 

Chapter 23 – Wasp: 1 – April: 0. (Money for Everything and My Chicks for Free.)

3 Jun

11140262_693344740799001_4541704822474790698_nI had no idea I’d almost died on Memorial Day. I planned on a good workout, some pool time and a movie. None of that happened, because while I was watering the plants on my porch, a Yellow Jacket stung my right calf.

My left calf was stung two weeks ago. While it took forever to heal and itched like a ma’fucker, I didn’t have any real issues, having been stung many times before with no problems.

Image-1

Just an asshole.

This day was different.  My throat tightened, the right side of my body went numb, my eye swelled almost shut, and I lost vision.  My entire body broke into burning hives (even the palms of my hands and feet, mouth, tongue and throat). Being an ‘idiot wrestler’, I usually tough everything out.

Me to Chris, as I’m frantically scrubbing my leg with alcohol: “Um, I should probably mention that I don’t feel very well. I feel kind of weird.”

Him: “Do you have Benadryl? I’ll go get you some.”

Me, bending over like I’d been running: “I don’t think I can breathe. You might want to hurry.” He ran out to the corner store, but before he got back, I knew I was way past allergy medication. He attempted to speed me to the emergency clinic (with him swearing at the slow driver in front of us. At least Florida is consistent!) and I honestly had no idea how bad it was.

10422500_679082798891862_7907003272970269611_n

Art by Gary Yap.

I am largely in denial about my own mortality. I believe my own gimmick; that I’m Super Woman.  Big Red. The Prize, April Hunter. A Viking warrior, ass-kicking my way through life. Moments like these, flashes of reality, crush me.

When I arrived to the emergency clinic, they took me immediately. Or mostly did, as I was in the process of passing out during check-in.  I received a series of injections:  epinephrine, steroids, more Benadryl . Wash, rinse, repeat. After several doses of everything, my body broke out into more hives, my tongue swelled and my blood pressure dropped. We were informed that they were calling an ambulance to have me rushed to the ER because it was getting worse. (As ‘rushed’ as one can be in this beautiful healthcare system we have, complete with staggering wait-times and gigantic bills, even with insurance.) I’d just gotten on Blue Cross at Christmas, but had never used it. I vaguely remember looking at the doctor and then Chris and being worried. “I don’t know if I can do that…is an ambulance covered?”

“The ambulance is covered.”

 portion_of_GDP_spent_on_healthcare-full

Rushed Defined in the USA:

-The ambulance took 32 minutes to go 8 minutes down the road. Fortunately, I was stabilized right before they’d arrived.

-Upon arrival, you must check in with name, social security and insurance card before anyone does anything for you. I’m fairly certain they hand you two Tylenol and dump you off the gurney sideways if you’re missing any of that information.  After all, you can’t be “denied treatment”.

-You are informed there will be a $250 to $5000 deductible to pay, depending on your insurance coverage. You’ll still be surprised with fat bills, which you’ll have to submit again and again to your insurance company and spend hours of your life trying to argue off.

-A US hospital has been known to charge up to $800 for an IV that is 6 liters of salt water. An ambulance ride is approximately $750 for 5 miles. By the way, that Tylenol pill will cost you $15. Each.  

-Only once you are checked in are you treated. By a nurse, who doesn’t give a shit. The one who does give a shit comes in later. She is an absolute sweetheart, and you kind of want to stuff her in your purse and keep her. The doctor arrives about an hour after that.

I was given a bunch of injections and, of course, the aforementioned $800 saline IV. To be fair, it was a lovely IV. A designer brand…from Italy, I think.  Haute couture.

If you’re a walk-in, bring a book. Or three. While I was at Quick Care Doctors Express, a woman checked in to have her wrist stitched up after sitting in a hospital emergency room for four hours.  She’d tapped out and decided that bleeding in her car was better than waiting another four hours.

I’ve been treated for emergency and non-emergency issues in Canada, Japan, Germany, Jamaica and England. I’ve never had to wait as long as I have here, with the exception of once in Alberta, Canada.

In England, Germany and Jamaica, the doctor came out to treat me; I didn’t have to go in. Let me just state for the record that house calls are awesome! While in Toronto, Canada, I was treated for a shattered nose (from an elbow to the face, and I still have issues breathing to this day), but they also x-rayed my ankle to confirm it was sprained instead of broken from the previous week of wrestling in Mexico. Furthermore, they did it gratis. The wait time was about fifteen minutes.  Being American, I did have to pay a bill, but it wasn’t much. The company I worked for in Canada covered it.

Some things should never be for profit; healthcare is one of them. There is no amount of money a mother or father won’t pay to save their child. That’s why it’s completely wrong, and the USA is the only country doing it this way. Clearly, we are a country of laws and capitalism, not ethics.

1432747620

Fucking cocksuckers.

The question is : why do we tolerate it? Is it because we think there’s no other way? Do we believe the lies we’re told about how other countries have “horrible” socialized care, where you’ll die while waiting? Currently, the socialized healthcare we do have, like the VA and Medicare, is mostly crap…so we think if we go that way across the board, it might all turn to shit? Is it because we think that we can’t afford it? That’s laughable. Every other country can afford it, but we can’t? Yet, we’re still #1 in cost per person for some of the worst care in the world. This makes absolutely zero sense. None.

Perhaps, it could be that we’re simply stupid and ignorant as a country? I feel we fail to “Question Authority” (a saying from when I grew up) and see what is really going on – that we are being taken advantage of. Each and every single one of us is being taken. We are being lied to by Pharma companies who run/own the media and congress. These companies are in bed with our FDA, which is why our food is so contaminated. Our foods are banned in other countries. Much of what we eat is considered toxic. This is why we’re sick. No other nation is as ill as the USA. Not even third world countries.

However, get this: Medical Profit is a huge part of the American GDP. Healthcare is one of our top grossing earners. Our slogan could be this: “Illness-The Only Thing Left That’s Made 100%  in America.”

So, let’s recap… Contaminate the food (check), people get sick (check), charge a fortune to keep them alive (check), and rake in fuckloads of money being a completely parasitic system (check). Get it?10580065_535100189956791_5333298893109803485_n

Avoid this by opting out. Go certified organic, locally grown, free range and grass fed. (To those of you who will now quote the show ‘Bullshit’ to me about how organic was found to not be any different than standard stuff; if you’re getting your dietary advice from a Penn & Teller show, you have issues.) Yes, you’re going to pay a little more on the front end for quality food and preventative care (such as a gym membership, massage, supplements, yoga, etc…), or you’re going to pay a fortune on the back end.  Remember, every bite of food you eat will either nourish you or kill you. It’s your choice.

Let’s continue…

US Healthcare Ranked Dead Last:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/

US Healthcare: Most Expensive, Least Effective:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/06/16/once-again-u-s-has-most-expensive-least-effective-health-care-system-in-survey/

If we total the money being taken  from our paychecks for insurance, payment deductibles and co-pays each year, we are probably paying more than some of the higher taxed countries are who have quality healthcare included for their tax dollars.

10955643_633223903477752_8166206568173353661_n

There’s absolutely no reason to add this photo. Hopefully, you’re still reading.

I’ve been denied care in a Connecticut emergency room without health insurance (after being unceremoniously dropped by Blue Cross Anthem for being a wrestler) when I broke two vertebrae in my back. But legally, I wasn’t “denied care”, because a nurse gave me two painkillers before sending me home. She’d assured me nothing was wrong and I’d be fine. Turns out, she was wrong. Not only were the vertebrae broken, but my tailbone disc had ruptured. I ended up going to Canada for real treatment I could afford and zero wait time, since I elected to pay in cash.

My ex, who was Canadian, was appalled at our system. He just couldn’t believe that ballsy, outspoken Americans were willing to put up with something so crappy, subpar, and expensive. He could never understand why we would jump up and fight over guns and God, but roll over and take it up the ass with no lube when it came to our own healthcare. Quite frankly, he was right.
keep-calm-and-ahhhh-wasp
Two different doctors told me that I almost died last Monday, and that they rarely see a reaction as bad as mine…that I was lucky. If I’d waited a few more minutes (fuck you, slow driving time thieves), or had gotten stung twice, not so much. Thank God I chose Quick Care and not the hospital. To those who might find themselves in the same situation one day, perhaps skip the ER if you want to live. I was also told that since my reaction was so bad, next time it’ll be worse, so I probably won’t make it to an emergency room on my own. Go big or go home, right? (Totally my catch-phrase on this one.)

Eventually, I was allowed to leave with a prescription for two epi pens and a variety of other medications. 

However, more fun ensued the following evening when I headed back into the emergency clinic with complications. That wasp was killing me! Literally. (And financially.) My lower leg and foot were hot to the touch, hurt and had doubled in size. I have a high pain tolerance and of course, waited too long once again.

I had a skin infection from the sting site called Cellulitis. “When can I work out?”

Doc: “Not for a while.”

Me: “Define a while.”

Him: “At least 4 days.”

Ugh. I’d skipped the gym all holiday weekend, too. I’ve missed too much gym time this year between pneumonia, bronchitis and now this. I was told to sit on my ass with my leg elevated, and take more medications. I won’t lie; this fucking sucks.GZ_punisher

You know what pisses me off? I didn’t even get to kill that wasp. Chris killed its entire family, Frank Castle Punisher style. I suppose that will have to suffice. I left the decimated wasp nest on my front porch as a warning to all others.

The fact that I was so close to dying still hasn’t sunk in. My blood pressure dropped and my heartbeat nearly stopped, too. 

I’ve managed to survive much in life:

A highly, abusive ex who tried to strangle me on his way out. (The police broke in to the apartment and tasered him multiple times before taking him to jail).

Bad ring accidents; including a broken back which brought on an asthma attack so bad that I didn’t think I’d make it 537017_256535387813274_1269586530_nthrough.

Multiple battles with pneumonia.

Traveling to foreign countries alone (especially during the Bush era, when everyone hated Americans. I got sent into a dangerous area of Paris “for fun” when I had asked for directions).

One near plane crash during takeoff.

An accidental med overdose as a kid.IMG_20150522_095818

Living with a bipolar father.

A wrist cutting. (Hey, I inherited the bp gene. Kind of comes with the territory.), 

Falling out of trees/off bikes with alarming regularity (sans helmet).

Gymnastics classes.

Working in retail at Christmas.

All of that, only to be done in by a stupid insect?!?

I knew moving to Florida would kill me. On the plus side, at least there’s no death tax here.

I shudder to think what the hospital bills are going to be.

This is where I should say how grateful I’ve realized I am, but to be honest, I was grateful before this. If I had died on that day, I’d have been fine with it. The people I love know I love them.  I’ve been places and done things. I’ve lived. I feel lucky on most days, with the clear exception of  that Monday. So, I’ll just say thank you for being fans and friends – and if I should have the ironic death of having been through so much shizz in life only to kick the bucket from a fucking bee sting, feel free to have a laugh for me. I know I sure would! 

In the meantime, I am sitting around until I finish the antibiotics catching up on Game of Thrones. Silver linings…

10690103_691281197672022_7147247633428198417_n

Photography: Dustin McClease

Onto the positives…

Thank you to Doctors Express in Clearwater, FL. You’re all awesome.

Huge thanks (big time!) to those who have sent things off my Amazon Wishlist ( http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_ws_CUhAvb0YTKWPE ) . Unfortunately, we don’t get rich in wrestling or modeling unless you’re at the very top tier. We are more often than not in trade; content for time. Comic books for our image. Photos for our day of work. It matters more than you know when fans are sweet and supportive. I am very thankful to those who go the extra mile.

I realize I haven’t updated my blog in eons. I’ve been writing, but not FINISHING. Much has been going which that has consumed energy like a vampire; a 5-week ComicCon tour, house hunting and Chris’ bipolar meds being all kinds of fuckity, to name a few of the higher priorities.

10407992_673789916087817_620815436664450173_n

Chris holding Daisy.

But one of these things is that I got baby chicks! At a Shine Wrestling show in January, a friend found a rejected hatchling. She couldn’t keep it due to her extensive cat collection, so I took her home. I’d always wanted chickens one day…just not THAT day. I was a completely clueless chicken (pullet) owner. But things have a way of working out. Her name became Daisy (we hoped it was a ‘her’) and I believe she may be a (bantam) Easter Egger. They’re called that because their eggs are in shades of blue, green, red and yellow. For the first 24 hours of her life, she wasn’t kept warm (unless she was tucked into my boobs), so we didn’t think she’d survive.

5149914421_9ca1522f9dBut, she did. Chickens of that breed roam around Ybor City. On Google and through talking to others, I’ve learned about heat lamps, Chicken Math, medicated feed and what the term ‘broody’ means, among many other things. The first time I had to reach into a bag of (delicious and nutritious) meal worms, I’ll admit I was extremely grossed out. Now, it’s no biggie.

chickenmath

Chicken Math.

We honestly had no idea if the little fuzzy yellow ball of cheeping sweetness was a Daisy or a Duke. This became a problem. Where I live, Roosters are illegal and I’d gotten insanely attached to the baby chick. She perked up when she saw me, responded to her name, answered back if talked to, came when called. She also couldn’t stop looking into the mirror I’d put into her brooder (box), which meant she was lonely. I learned she should not be alone, so we got two more chicks from a farm that were show quality silver and gold laced Wyandotte breeds that were slightly older, as that was all that was available in our area. Delilah and Daphne weren’t as warm and fuzzy as Daisy is. They’d been treated as livestock, not pets for the first several weeks of their lives and it showed. The new girls were skittish and hand-shy. It 11041701_673791269421015_7093770322807567878_ntook a lot of work to get them used to us, but they’ve adjusted to a degree. They’d fall asleep in our arms, while we rubbed their necks each night. Daisy turned out to be 100% female (thankfully!) and 100% pet. She loves being picked up and petted. As soon as she sees us, she starts chattering. If you’d told me that chickens make great pets, I would have laughed. But, they do.

20150201_212853

Daphne.

I can’t meditate. I’ve tried. I’ve even gone to classes to learn. Clearing a bipolar/ADHD mind is nearly impossible. But watching those chicks play, scratch, interact with each other and chirp away is just about the same thing as meditating. I am able to shut the world out, clear everything and just take them in. It’s strange how calming they are for me. The world quiets, my thoughts stop racing, and it’s just them.

With all this, I have come to a conclusion : chickens = happy.

And they haven’t even started to lay eggs yet. Can’t wait!

11114257_680074228792719_1768480893270766319_n

Miss Daisy. Or, Margarita, in Spanish.

 

Big thanks to Micheal Patry, Danielle Dadamo and Jennifer Dunham for editing my questionable grammar! And thank you to Chris for being the first to read everything and the first to help with it…no matter how honest it is. 🙂

IMG_20150202_100535

IMG_20150424_123424_resized

Daisy, Delilah and Daphne, ranging freely.

11219349_679434872189988_1449750262542169347_n

4a07263a5b0b50a8141315ec5e14c745143ef1ae4e2e8f16c465afe6e710e386

IMG_20150125_202634

How could anyone not fall in love with this teeny, squeaky baby?