A lot has happened since my Election Day blog. I'm going to start with what's going on now and work backwards.
I'm house sitting as I write this.
We have good family friends who went to Disney World, and they asked me to house sit. The hardcore kind of house sitting where you actually live in the house. I can't believe I'm being paid to do this.
Every morning I wake up in their big beautiful house, look around and say "Yep, it's still here" and go back to sleep. Besides some basic things like getting the mail and covering up the plants when it's going to be cold, I've had a lot of quiet time to myself to knit, watch TV and think. I even balanced my checkbook, paid my bills and accomplished a few other things.
They left me a big tray of noodles to eat. I thought the picture above captured the mood pretty well. I was enjoying one of my Christmas sodas and some noodles at a nice dining room table with surprisingly realistic looking* apples. You can see their pretty Christmas tree in the back ground. It's a nice change from being crammed into such a small space.
I'm in pain. Lots of pain.
Remember when I talked about my constant headache? I would love to go back to complaining about a mild headache and a little neck pain. Something seriously shifted in November. I started having right side shoulder pain in addition to the left side headache. The shoulder pain escalated until the day before Thanksgiving, when I went to the ER because my entire back was spasming. I missed Thanksgiving (along with my parents) because I was in too much pain to visit our friends. By Thanksgiving Day, the good stuff they had given me in the ER had worn off.
While I've gotten gradually better, I'm not in good shape. That's another reason why I'm glad to be house sitting. Sitting around is one of the few things I can handle. As long as I have a supportive chair, a heating pad, the option to lie down, pillows to get myself into comfortable positions and the painkillers and muscle relaxers that I've been taking for more than a month now.
My back needs lots of support, especially my upper back. Sitting up feels like work, and if I do it for too long without something to lean back on, it hurts even more. I also have problems lifting "heavy" objects. I'm finally getting to the point where I can pour milk again. Anything that requires any real force hurts. I sliced some cheese for a sandwich a week or two ago, and I really regretted it afterward. Also, I have to get someone else to open the sliding door on Mom and Dad's van. I haven't driven since the day before Thanksgiving because I'm concerned about being able to turn the wheel and check my blind spot. (And because I've been doped up on painkillers most of the time.)
"Strenuous" activities have a cumulative effect. The more I sit up and use the upper body without rest, the more spasms I have. I have to push myself to do things without overdoing it.
Immediately after my ER trip, it hurt too much to knit or use the computer, which was awful. Fortunately, I've recovered enough to do both of those, although I have to take breaks and watch what position I sit in.
I don't have any real answers or any sense of what my prognosis is. Basically, vertebrae in my neck are rubbing together, and nerves are getting pinched. I managed to really pinch something right before Thanksgiving. I have an appointment Monday, and I'm hoping it will shed some light on the situation.
The picture above is of me showing off my Multnomah shawl in the recliner I basically live now. I'm so glad my parents have this chair. It supports my back, yet I can sit up enough to knit, use my laptop and talk to people.
(I'll have more on my shawl later.)
I finally finished cleaning my apartment. Then I moved out of it and moved in with my parents.
I mentioned before that I was cleaning my apartment. I finished in mid-November. This includes getting every bit of my stuff out of storage and either putting it into my apartment or getting rid of it.
In honor of the event, I held a party with my friends. About 15 minutes before the first guest arrived, I had every tiny detail in place everything relatively clean. I took some pictures. Then we all ate chili and played board games. Then we took more pictures.
Before I lost my job, we did an exercise during training where we all wrote goals that seemed impossible on boards. Then the teacher showed us how to break boards with our hands. After that we took turns breaking our boards to symbolize that we could achieve these goals. I wrote "Clean my apartment and maintain it. (With all the stuff in storage.)" on my board.
The picture above is of me and my broken board in my clean apartment.
After the party was over I took a break. Then I started packing up, because my lease was up on Nov. 30, and I didn't renew it.
I was doing fairly well financially on unemployment for a while. But the medical costs of trying to cure the headache took their tole, even with Mom and Dad's help, and I wasn't finding work. I was scheduled to be out of benefits in early December.
Mom and I started talking about me moving back home in August. I kept lowering my pay requirements, but nothing came. So I finally gave my apartment my notice of intent to move out.
I know I'm really lucky to have parents that will help me financially and let me move in with them. I'm thankful that I have a soft place to fall. I love my parents, and without them I would have had to move under the bridge a long time ago. But this isn't a good situation. There isn't enough room for all of us, both literally and figuratively.
And moving back in with my parents is humiliating enough, but now I can't drive or do much of anything for myself. It's stressful for all of us.
So my stuff is all back in storage, except for a couple of bins on the floor of my room, some clothes in the closet, my bed, my dresser, my TV and my nightstand. I share my childhood room with two bookshelves full of Mom and Dad's stuff and stuff in the closet that Katie left behind when she moved out.
The good news is that the move was easier because I had cleaned up, especially since Mom and Dad had to do a lot of the packing because I couldn't lift anything. And since I need so much help physically, it's good that I'm at home with people to help me.
And it makes me appreciate house sitting even more.
I did have a job for a short time. I had to quit because of the pain.
It was call center job as a customer service rep. As I did with my last job, I won't talk about the details of my job on my blog. Things were going pretty well while I was there, although it didn't pay very much.
But I started the Monday before Thanksgiving, right about the time when the pain started getting really bad. I made it through the three days before Thanksgiving. I didn't go to the ER until Wednesday night.
I had the Thanksgiving weekend to recover, then I went back Monday. I thought I'd be OK, but after a full day of sitting up without much back support, I was in really bad shape.
I couldn't come in the next day. Or the day after. I finally resigned so I could leave in good standing and be eligible for rehire.
So that's the last two months. The move, the job and the pain all converged in a perfect storm of suckiness around Thanksgiving. Now I'm hoping for a better 2011. Or at least more blogging.
* - No, I did not try to eat a fake apple. But I did pick one up and knocked on it to see if it was real.