Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just When You Think It’s Over…

I know I haven’t kept up with this, and I’m sorry. There’s been so many issues with internet connectivity, the difficulty I have in sitting up to type, and my reluctance to share thing that are (to my mind) depressing. After all, who wants to listen to people whine? But here I am, and I’m going to talk about things that I usually wouldn't.

I had my Disability Hearing on October 10th, and it was the most physically and emotionally wrenching experience I've had. I feel completely empty and hopeless. My attorney, Jean, told me that if the judge believes my doctors, I will receive benefits. If she does not, I will receive nothing, and will be unable to appeal for two years. Jean also told me that I did well at the hearing. I’ll have to take her word for it. I was a sodden mess of tears and pain, both from having to walk to the building and sit for so long, and from the nature of the questions asked. I lost it completely when they asked why I had to give up my dog, and I had to explain that I could no longer care for him. I miss him every day, even though I know he’s in a good place, and being well cared for. It’s just so lonely without him.

Later in the day, my attorney called and gave me the bad news: it could take up to 6 months to get a decision. The good news is that it could happen in just a few weeks, but six months? There are so many things that I can’t figure out what to do about.

1.        My Driver’s License is still based in Virginia. It expires in less than 6 months. So does my car insurance and vehicle inspection. I have no idea how to cover the costs involved in changing all this to North Carolina, or even if I want to. There is no infrastructure here for the disabled, which is a whole other issue.

2.       The doctor that has been with me through the entire process, who treats me for free as a charity case, is in Virginia. I’m having difficulty driving to these appointments now, and have to stay with Jackie in order to recover from the drive. Every trip costs gas money that I won’t be able to keep spending.

3.       I will soon run out of money for prescriptions. As much as I hate taking them, they are the only thing keeping me on my feet.

4.       Social Services will not give any assistance to anyone that is not already receiving Disability.

5.       My attorney has written a letter to Social Services explaining that I am transient, but it doesn't really matter, since there are no programs for people like me in the first place. I have had to keep a Virginia ID in order to keep my hearing in Richmond, or else it would have been postponed for another 6-12 months, and I would have had to get another attorney that could practice in North Carolina. With over 3 years of groundwork, along with all my doctors being in Virginia, I've had to hold on to that Virginia ID like grim death, or I wouldn't be able to get the care I’m receiving now.

6.       I still have things to sell to earn some money, mainly my remaining jewelry equipment and materials, but I do not have a camera that can take a picture of these things (has to be able to take a clear picture of a penny without blur or the need for elaborate lighting.) These small items need to have clear pictures taken in order for them to sell.

7.       The only way to sell those items is via the internet, and I do not have a stable enough connection to sell ANYTHING. eBay, BlueJay, Etsy, all have strict policies on return communication and shipping as items are purchased. At times, I have no connection for up to 5-7 days, making this an impossible task.

8.       It is getting more and more difficult to take care of myself. Making it through a shower is the most painful of experiences. All the things I brought will me to the rental in Virginia to help me with this, I no longer have; no handicapped toilet, no shower head with the flexible line, no shower seat, no grabber bars. I’m finding it ever more painful to be able to keep myself clean.

9.       I have doubts about my ability to live alone. I cannot take care of a yard, and being here at Jackie’s, I can only do minimal things: a bit of the dishes, make a pot of coffee. Cleaning something like the bathroom, floor or vacuuming is beyond me.

10.   I’m completely depressed. I have a therapist I could see as part of the group that has already taken me as a charity case, but again, this is in Virginia and I have no way to get there.

11.   My van is acting up. It needs an oil change. Something has even fallen off of it and I don’t know what it is. Without transportation, there is no more healthcare. I've no money for maintenance. Everything I have is earmarked for prescriptions and gas for doctor’s appointments.

Right now, I’m terrified. I, who haven’t been afraid of much in my life, am having what I suppose are anxiety attacks and crying jags. I’m at the end of my personal rope. The only thing I have going for me is that I have a place to stay and people who love me (thank you, Mom & Billy); and thanks to Jackie, who lets me stay with her when I have those doctor’s appointments. All these people have their own lives, priorities and concerns, which don’t include me or mine, and that’s perfectly normal. I don’t (and can’t) expect anyone to change their life for me. There are no “programs” for people in my situation, no help, and no places to go. Trust me, I’ve checked. Countless times.

There are no reassurances. There’s no “Everything’s going to be OK”. All I can hope for is that the judge decides in my favor, before I lose my ID and my vehicle, and thus my healthcare.

This is why I haven’t written in awhile. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Sorry this has been such a downer. I usually don't put stuff like this out here. I like to keep things light, so I don't get dragged down by them. I figured all of you deserved an explanation. Especially since I haven't been as communicative, informative, or lighthearted as usual.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slay WHAT?

Back from yet another doctor’s appointment in Richmond.

I really don’t know what I’d do without this, this place to write things out, to talk to all of you, in a place where I can speak my mind, think things out, and try not to feel like such an asshole while working things out in my own head.

To begin at the beginning, I had to go to another doctor’s appointment.

The last time I saw Dr. G., he was sticking lovely long lances in my spine in yet another attempt to slay the pain dragon that is slowly devouring my vertebrae and nerves (instead of the standard princess). Instead of these shots being my knight in shining armour, there to lance that damned dragon to death, they were instead more like a pest control guy putting out poisoned bait, but nowhere near enough. You see, the pest control guy thought he was dealing with rats, rather than a smoking, bad-tempered, fire-breathing, princess-eating dragon, so the bait just gave the dragon a tummy ache for a few days, after which he promptly awoke cranky and began gnawing on the princess-nerves even harder.

This appointment, we talked about something different. Yet another class of knight. This one is armed, not to slay the dragon, but the princess instead.

Not for good, only temporarily. Apparently, these princesses, like Prometheus' liver, grow back. And the dragon doesn’t go away. And the knight only has a chance, not a certainty of success.

The knight in this case is a process called RadiofrequencyAblation. It supposedly will burn the hell out of the nerves that transmit the pain from them being constantly ground up between my vertebrae. The idea is that this will give me a chance of having my pain lessened for 6 to 12 months, until the nerves grow back.

Pain lessened, not removed.

And the nerves WILL grow back.

The rest of the story is that it may not work in the first place, and I was told by another doctor (this past spring) about all the gory details should anything go wrong. Stuff like being completely paralyzed from the entry site down, damage to the sheath that encases the spinal cord (which can lead to all kinds of lovely things ending with a funeral), and all the other standard (and some exotic) warnings.

I jumped at the chance to do this.

Having been in ever increasing pain for the last seven years, having lost most of my mobility (including the ability to even sit comfortably, and don’t even mention walking for more than a few minutes). I desperately want relief. Of any kind, at any cost.

All I want is to be normal again.

But there’s the trouble, you see.

No matter what procedure is done, there is no more “normal” for me. Up until this point, I have done a lot of mental gymnastics to stay happy, affirmative, positive, optimistic, upbeat, la, la, la, la, etc, etc, BULLSHIT.

Life is never going to be normal for me again. I’ve said this to myself over and over, but this procedure, for some reason, made me entertain the false possibility that I could have my life back, even when the doctors say that won’t happen.

So, as realistic as I thought I’d been with myself, I find that I really wasn’t at all, that I’d still been hoping for a miracle, something that would return my life, my career, my hopes and my dreams. A miracle that would restore to me all that I had lost, my vitality, my ability, my joy in life.

But I was really just bullshitting myself. Not really a bad thing, because it made life as a cripple who’s lost everything and living in a camper easier to bear.

I now have to really come to terms with my new normal. I’m not getting my life back. I really won’t be able to live alone again. I won’t be able to take a neglected house and make it beautiful; I won’t be able to build a gorgeous garden, freely walk around all day at a market, go to a concert or a movie, throw a party, live without constant pain.

I’m now looking at the little things, trying to appreciate them every day. The sky as the sun comes up, the beauty in the set of a horse’s head; the way the air smells after the rain, the trust in the eyes of an aging dog.

So as the time comes nearer for the doctors to slay my princesses, I’ve got to come to terms with my dragon.

He’s not going anywhere.

Neither, apparently, am I.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Finally, an Update

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

I’ve started quite a few updates, but they all devolved into the kind of self-pitying stuff that I hate, so I deleted them all. This time, I’m determined to squelch the self-pity, and tell just the facts, ma’am. *grin*

I’m still in the camper, at my Mom’s. Thanks to all the donators, I got the camper, and got it to North Carolina. Thanks to Mom, I have a place to park it, a bathroom to use, and a place to do laundry, all where I am loved. Thank you all.

It’s so nice here. The horses, the dogs, the cats, I’m never truly alone, although it does feel that way sometimes. I’m used to a house full of people, and I don’t know a soul down here. Not that I have any place to entertain! The rhythm of life is relaxed, which helps my stress level. No loud buses passing 12 feet from my bedroom window every 10 minutes, no gunfire, no fights in the street, no sirens...I miss the ghetto not one bit. I still miss my little cottage, the one I had before the ghetto, but that is long gone (even though the county still seems to think I own it, odd, since my bankruptcy was finalized two years ago).

Things are still very much in a holding pattern.

No sign of a court date for Disability yet. It’s been all silent on the attorney’s front, and I’ve no idea when anything is going to happen. Things are beginning to look critical. I’ve got three more months worth of cash for prescriptions, and car insurance is due in September. I have nothing of worth left to sell, so I don’t really know what’s going to happen at this point. I can’t get my attorney to respond  with some sort of letter that explains my residency issues, so I haven’t been able to apply for Food Stamps down here as of yet. Being that I’m in the process of applying for Disability, I still don’t qualify for anything else. Yes, I’m still mostly bedridden. Yes, it still hurts to walk, sit, stand, drive, and all the rest. Yes, I’m still dealing with it. Some days are better than others, some worse. Meditation and medication help. The shots I got last month really didn’t do anything, so hopefully that means I’m eligible for the radio frequency ablation. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Other things going on: Achievement Get! New Desktop! Thanks to WelshPixie, Jaco, VanceNoPants and my Mom, I have the computer that I’ve saved up for three times over the last two years (but had to spend the money on other things due to Jackie losing her job). Just in time, too, as my hard drive in the laptop crashed and burned. Many of you know I’d been saving up for a new desktop just to be able to play Skyrim, and SudoRossy sent me a copy of that for my birthday. I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends! The icing on the cake was a homemade bound book and a flash drive, both all steampunked out courtesy of my friend Pete. You are all the very best of friends.

Then there’s the everyday support from everyone on Twitter. Thank you all so much, ‘cause I don’t know what I’d do without you. You all make me smile, laugh, and groan in despair at the bad puns!

These last few weeks have been especially rough, since the internet connection here has gone from spotty to nonexistent. Hopefully, this will be fixed by next Friday – I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Other than my Mom and Billy, the person I’d most like to thank for helping me keep my sanity through all of this is Mark. Without him, I’d be completely lost. He’s on his way back to the UK in a little over a week, and to keep his visa, has to return to the US within a year. They can have you for a little while, but you must come back to us, you’re a British American now!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a doctor’s appointment on the 6th of July, so I’ll have to check my options again then, and drop in to my attorney’s office as well. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to the gaming news soon, as this is just a personal update. Even with all the upheavals and uncertainty, there is still gaming to be done and discussed!

And, (dare I say…) recording?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Welcome to the USA, Don't Dare Need Medical Care: Blogging Til Homeless, Day 8

Wow, am I tired.

The rest of the furniture has been sold, except for the beds. Jackie never got the frame she was supposed to, so I couldn't sell hers (hers as in she sleeps in it, not owns it), so I've lost money there, and I have to leave my bedframe as well. There goes some cash, as they're both antiques!

On the bright side, the utilities have been changed, and a have a shiny new Post Office Box, which will start forwarding this coming week.

More bad news, however. I've completely lost my medical coverage through MCV/VCC. They needed bank statements, which I provided, along with copies of the blog, etc, to show where the money we collected for Mark went. I got a phone call yesterday from the person handling my account, berating me for having money when I have no job, and I explained the situation and asked her if she even READ the paperwork that I sent along. Apparently, that wasn't enough, and they needed a notarized letter from Mark, which isn't a problem...


Now, from selling all of my furniture, I have MORE money in the account, so even though I'm jobless and selling everything because I'll be homeless, I DON'T QUALIFY for medical care because I have money in my bank account. When I told the operator that there was nothing I could do, since I would be homeless at the end of the month, she said “OK, “ and hung up on me.

There goes my neurology appointment in April, then.

I can't close the bank account, as I was told when I was getting Food Stamps that I had to have one to qualify, plus my meds cost nearly $180 per month, and I don't want to have that kind of cash on me, especially while homeless! All the furniture and possessions I'm selling will be paying for my medications, and even that will only last for a few months. I have no idea what I'm going to do when my medication money runs out. All I can hope for is a court date for disability before then.

I wish there was some solution for this. WHY can I not get medical care when I have paid into the system all of my life? Why, when I have LOST EVERYTHING - my home, my possessions, my retirement acccount, my FUTURE - and am going to be on the street after being a productive member of society, do I get treated like a crumpled tissue, to be thrown in the trash?

Why, in supposedly the greatest nation on earth, do people get discarded in this way?

Fun Through the Jungle: Minecraft Snapshot 12w03a Seeds

With all of the awesome-y goodness of Jeb's weekly Minecraft Snapshots, I finally decided to go back to Singleplayer for a while and make a new world, because I WANTED A JUNGLE. After doing several random generations to no avail, I thought I'd try doing something a leeetle more specific. I've tried different word combinations to generate seeds before, with generally lousy results, but I had some time to fool around for a bit, and was pleasantly surprised.

So, I decided to share what I've found. Seeds should be entered into Minecraft exactly as typed here, spaces and capitalizations as given.

SEED: Jungle Boogie

This was the first one I tried, and is one of my favourite songs from Pulp Fiction. This seed will give you a nice jungle biome with several pools of water nearby.

Jungle Boogie

SEED: Jungle Fever

This one is from the Spike Lee movie of the same name, and gives you a nice intersection of jungle, swamp, and taiga biomes.

Jungle Fever

SEED: TarzanBoy

From the 1985 song by Baltimora, this seed gives you a river and epic mountains of epicness! (I'm building on this one – you know I love mountains!)


SEED: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

By The Tokens, and the first song I actually sang karoke to. I know, No “jungle” in the title, But the first line has the word “jungle” in it twice (it counts, people! *grin*) This seed has a hilly area as well, and spawn backs up to a wide ocean view.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

All this was inspired by @kalen_nighteyes Tweeting of the jungle seed “Welcome To The Jungle”. I haven't checked the seed out myself, so go give it a look...and check kalen's You Tube channel here.

Happy Safari!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Exhaustion: Blogging Til Homeless, Day 18

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit, but the moving/packing nuttiness is in full swing!

At almost the two week 'til out point, I find myself continually amazed by how HARD this is to do, and how much being disabled at this level impedes my actually getting anything done...impedes it to a ridiculous extent.

I've been driving around doing very necessary errands involving car repairs, obtaining a PO Box, visiting the DMV and the like – every trip necessitates a 2-to-3 day recovery period, where I basically lie in bed, practically unable to move. I've also been selling the remainder of my possessions on Craigslist, and dealing with the many people coming to look at items or pick them up is exhausting and painful...and another 2-3 day recovery period. I've been posting all of my stuff in stages, and scheduling people to come all at once to minimize all the standing/walking, but it still hits me pretty hard. Then there's packing.

Or....NOT packing.

More like having piles of stuff all over the living room, dining room and bedroom where the furniture used to be. Refolding, moving things from pile to pile, deciding that yes, THIS can be sold (take a pic, post to Craigslist, repeat); check emails and respond to interested people...go back to the piles of stuff and start shifting again. Think, “I LOVE this, I've had it for so long, I don't want to lose it...will it fit in the van? I'll just move it to “keep” pile.”

And that “keep” pile gets larger and larger.

So I have to start all over again, posting more things to Craigslist.

Now I've gotten to a point where most of the things I am keeping are clothing, bedding, towels and the like, and my rooms are looking like a giant white sale. I have some Space Bags coming from Amazon this week, and I'll be able to shrink some of this stuff down to a manageable level and start loading it into the van (that last part is guaranteed to land me in bed for another few days!)

What's getting me through all of this right now are my friends.

So many of you, I only know as a voice or in text, having never met in person – and you know what?

You are the best damned people I know.

I've gotten encouragement, love, laughter, snark, hugs, kicks in the butt, genuine CARING...

I have no idea what I would have done without ALL OF YOU.

Thank you, all of you, for being there for me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Miracles Happen: Blogging Til Homeless, Day 26

Today, I have a camper.

I found the ad late last night on Craigslist, and called before 9 o'clock this morning. Within 20 minutes, I was being shown the camper by a man named Evan, whose family had grown too large for it.

It was a year older than I, a hardshell, and was only $600. I paid Evan and drove it home.

Yes, it's dirty, but most of the inside has been completely redone, and should be perfectly comfortable for one person. I may try to paint the interior another color, most likely after I get settled. Just hooking and unhooking the camper from the van put me in so much pain that I've spent the last 4 hours in bed, so I don't think I should be TOO ambitious. After all, I'm still packing the house up and selling things, which also knocks me flat.

Today is a day filled with awesome.

Thanks to all of you, I have a camper.

Thanks to all of you, I will be warm and safe.

I cannot properly express my gratitude to everyone who donated, Tweeted, blogged, passed the word along, sent virtual hugs and words of encouragement...and those who simply CARED.

Thank you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'll Get By With A Little Help From My Friends: Blogging Til Homeless, Day 31

I got a Twitter DM this morning from Thefre, whom many of you know as @ThiefKnight on Twitter. He's the person who does the fabulous Minecraft Chibi avatar drawings, lovely sketches, and a multitude of sekrity sekrit stuffs.

He said, “Check this out.”

So I checked, and there was Chibi Thefre, Teddanator and I, straight off of Thefre's private server, set up to be 3-D printed at Shapeways, sooooo CUTE!

Then was the awesome part.

Thefre was doing this to help me fundraise for the camper! Here's the incentive:

Donate $100 or more, and you will receive your Minecraft avatar, rendered in Chibi style by Thefre and produced as a 2 x 2.4 x 0.7 inch 3-D sculpture!

  1. Donate $100 or more by clicking the “Donate” button below.

  2. In the “Message” section on PayPal, include your full name, Minecraft IGN (In-Game-Name), and the address that you'd like your avatar sculpture shipped.

Thanks to Thefre, now donators can have a little something in return for helping me keep warm and safe while homeless.

Thank you all!

Donations are now at $357, and I've tried contacting the owners of the less expensive campers on Craigslist. Haven't received any responses as of yet, and some of the ads are gone when you search on the site. Please pass this blog along, and donate if you can. I appreciate everything the community is doing-THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"What Can We Do?" Blogging Til Homeless: Day 32

"What Can We Do?"

Many people have been asking what they can do to help, and I have to confess, until now, I've been at a total loss as to what to say. All I could think about was that I didn't really have a definition of what I needed, except the extremely difficult “free place to live for an indeterminate time period until I get disability”. That definition was as unhelpful as anything.

Seems that I was forgetting my personal history. You see, there is something definite that would help. First, let me give you a small update.

I have places where I can park the van, which is awesome. This will prevent me from having to park in a box store parking lot at night, or alternatively parking somewhere on a back road, neither of which is very safe. I've got three places so far where I can park the van on private property (and one place to actually stay indoors, but is very far away). Thank you everyone – you know who you are!

Then somebody sent me an email that jogged my memory, and I can't believe I hadn't thought of this sooner:

Why not live in a camper?

For approximately four years, I had traveled up and down the east coast, vending at outdoor festivals and shows, staying IN MY CAMPING TRAILER. It was cheap, and it was safe. Most important of all, being disabled, I can even set one up.

People have been asking how much it would cost to set me up in an apartment for a few months, and between deposit, rent and utilities, it would cost thousands; and is an unrealistic, temporary solution. I have NO idea when my court date is. My disability attorney says it is on the docket but has not been scheduled yet. This is the Federal Government, remember, so I could easily be looking at another year *shudder*. An apartment would be no solution, since I have no income. The money would run out, and I'd be in the same position as I'm in today.

A camper can change this.

Living in a camper would also allow me to rotate where I'm staying, so that I wouldn't be a burden on any one person for too long. It would allow me to leave what possessions I have left in a safe place when I need to use the van (rather than hauling everything around wherever I go). It would allow me to actually sleep in a bed, rather than on a bunch of blankets on the floor of the van. It would allow me to keep some of my personal possessions, so I wouldn't have to start over completely when the time comes. It would essentially give me a free place to live, as long as I needed, until court.

My van is already set up to tow a camper. I still have all of my camping equipment: propane lanterns, stove, etc.

I'm terrible at asking for things for myself. Absolutely terrible. Fundraising for Mark was so different, and easy. I always find it easier to do things for other people, rather than asking for myself.

But I have to change that. I need help. A used camper costs anywhere from $6-or-$700 to about $3500, depending on what's available, and will need inspection, registration and insurance.

Can you help? I hate asking, but this is something definite, something that will actually HELP. If you can, there is a Donate button at the bottom of this post.

Here's some of the things I've seen on Craigslist. I don't know what is still available, since it's pointless to ask unless I can actually purchase one:

Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

Thanks to donators, the van repairs are now covered! Many, many thanks!

Have a wonderful New Year!