5.16.2018

Hospital Hatred

Note: I'm not writing this to bash on hospitals in general, or even this particular hospital--so I won't even name it.  I'm just writing this to get it out of my system, because it has made me sick with anxiety for the past month and a half and I just can't not write about it, you know?  I'm going to skip over the really shitty parts like waking up to Ender in respiratory distress and the whole 15 hours of emergency rooms and treatment  b e f o r e  this part of the story.  

With that disclaimer out of the way, here's what happened. 




Ender was getting suctioned every 2 hours at that time, and it seemed to be a good time ratio.  He was so congested and having such a hard time breathing that he had to be suctioned before every bottle; he couldn't breathe through his nose and drink his formula.  He had been doing all right for an hour or so, but while Derik and I were sitting in the room and Ender was napping, his oxygen dropped low again.

If he'd been awake and alert I would've just let the monitor beep but he was asleep, and his breathing was labored, so I pushed the call button.  It was mid-afternoon but the lights were off in the hospital room--as you can see from the above picture, there were HUGE windows letting sunlight in anyway, so the room was dim, but not dark.  When I pushed the call button I anticipated the respiratory therapist (the one who used the high powered suctioning device) to come in, but it was a nurse(?) I had never seen before. 

I remember that she was blond, and pregnant.  She rushed into the room all business, didn't introduce herself or anything.  I was holding Ender and she wordlessly went to a cabinet without even checking his pulse ox or anything else, and withdrew a nasal cannula.  I told her, "He needs suctioning, he's going to eat soon anyway and he can't eat without it."

"We still have some time left before the two hours," she replied (what...like...twenty minutes?) so I just gritted my teeth and watched her try to put this nasal cannula on a cranky baby with an IV in his head.  It didn't go well.  She didn't speak or inform me what she was doing or anything, she just reached over and slapped these two circular, quarter-sized bandages over the edges of the oxygen tubing and bandaged them to Ender's cheeks. 

She left without a word.  I was fuming mad already because I didn't consent to or agree with giving supplemental oxygen without even looking to make sure he was okay.  I got to poking around at the bandages, which Ender HATED--he was tugging at them and tossing his head around.  Now he was wide awake and unhappy.  It seemed like his breathing was worse, too.  I looked more, I felt like something was off.  The notches on the cannula were far too wide for his little nostrils, they were pushing his nose apart and it looked painful.  The nurse(?) had set the oxygen to a whopping 1 lpm...gee whiz, what a difference....but what bothered me more than all of this is that Ender seemed to be breathing worse now.

I sat him on his bed and watched his breathing.  His breath seemed to be stuck in his throat.  He'd been in distress for literally all night and all day, at this point about 15 hours total, the only relief coming about five minutes after a suction and then immediately going away.  But what happened next is the part that sticks in my memory.  I was watching him breathe in a new, weird, unusual gasping pattern and every alarm bell in my head went off.  I haven't had much EMS experience with infants, and having it be my own may have played a part, but just thirty seconds of watching his gaspy breaths made me hit the call button again.  I felt like he was going to go unconscious at any second, and he was trying desperately to cry and couldn't.  As gently as I could, I took off that stupid ass goddamn cannula, leaving big red marks on his cheeks from the adhesive.

One CNA entered, then another nurse.  I didn't even pause, "He's not breathing right, get the respiratory therapist."  Then I saw him coming anyway, likely due to the beeping monitor or the fact that it was time to suction anyway.  As everybody piled in I sat Ender back down and assumed they would suction him first, so I laid him on his back.

And thank god it was me who did it and me who was facing him.  They were all standing around the bed and the moment I lowered him down I looked in his open (gasping for air) mouth and saw a foreign object in his throat.  IMMEDIATELY I said, "He's got something in his throat."  I kid you not, no one moved.  It just enrages me to think about it now, I have tears in my eyes thinking about it.  An actual circle of children's medical personnel and not one person moved an inch, to see, or to speculate, or to say 'what?'  I spoke calmly and clearly--with urgency, I presume--and nobody moved or flinched. 

I repeated myself, "There's something in his throat" and I remember thinking before the sentence was even done, that I was going to have to fucking take care of it myself because these dazed workers would have reacted the same if I'd been speaking Tagalog.  Before I even realized what I was doing I did a finger sweep.  It moved maybe an inch forward.  I assessed and did another finger sweep and pulled out a clear plastic tab--the cover of the adhesive bandage the nurse had placed on his cheek for the cannula.

I was deeply, deeply disturbed.  I held up the plastic--this was a round, quarter-sized flap of plastic that had covered Ender's throat and left him with a one way valve to breathe!!!!!!--and spat out something resembling the English "THIS WAS IN HIS THROAT." 

The only reply that I even remember came from the CNA who muttered, "Welll...it's...dark in here"

Seriously I'm so enraged I don't even know if I can type the rest of this out.

I demanded everyone leave the room and I called for the nurse manager.  She came in and gave a very lovely rehearsed speech about how this was unacceptable and she would speak to her staff and blah blah blah.  I was as aggressive as you'd imagine if you know me and the hospital staff tread very lightly around me for the rest of the visit.  The nurse(?) responsible was not allowed back into my room, because if she would've showed up I would have likely killed her with oxygen tubing.  The nurse manager pretty much avoided me as well. 

Luckily Derik was there, witnessed the entire thing, and when I shut down out of pure anger he stepped in and continued defending the situation.  I don't kwow what I'd do without him. 

There's no point to this story, it's just one of many festering piles of anxiety stuck inside my stomach that doesn't seem to know how to find its way out.


5.02.2018

Darkness, My Old Friend

I know I've ranted about this before, but it seems like the sickening endemic is still rampantly online, (and offline as well!) here in 2018 and it's maybe even worse than before...so I am going to share my thoughts.

Humans find negativity unattractive.  They see it as a disease.  Part of that is biological and it certainly has its place.  My rant of disgust is not about the obvious and natural aversion to anything bad: pain, drama, unhappiness--but our deeper, and more over-the-top reactions to every little negative droplet that comes into the happy bubble.

I bear the burden of being someone who is openly and unabashedly cautious, negative, cynical, and talks about unhappiness as if it were any other mood we brag about being: thrilled, tired, optimistic.  I feel negative emotion more often than not, and I don't mind talking about it.  I allow myself to feel it and I don't add a disclaimer, like "...but even though things are rough I'm looking on the bright side!" Goddammit, sometimes there IS no bright side.  Sometimes things suck, wholeheartedly, and there is nothing good about it, but you're branded a pariah in today's world if you dare say aloud that hope is foolish.  THANKS OBAMA

It's like dieting and the apologies people make for their current body.  "I am not happy with my weight but I'm working on it!" Like dude, just let the statement stand on its own.  I am not happy with my body.  Just focus on that.  Segment it.  The constant need to drag a safety net around is exhausting.  And I don't even do it, I just deal with it.  "Finances are tight but we're hoping for a turnaround this quarter!"  "I will push through this bout of depression and feel like myself again."


Just allow the misery, people.  It's going to be there whether or not you try to fool yourselves into thinking that a tag on the end about everything turning around is going to change it.  It's not.  If tomorrow really is going to be a better day, it's going to be a better day whether you say that or not.  I could get deep here and talk about how the point of pain is to notify us that we are in danger in some way, and sticking your foot in a fire and laughing about how great things are going to be once your foot is out of the fire is idiotic...get my point?

I wanted to actually talk about how sadness isn't the enemy, though.  It feels like it is, because duh, who wants to be sad? or mad, or whatever.  I'm going to go meta and remind the world that there are positive things to be found in sadness.  Not in overcoming sadness or beating negativity, but in the actual bad shit itself.  It makes us stronger.  It makes us kinder, hopefully.  (Unless you're just a shitty person to begin with) It makes us think about situations differently, problem solve better.  It aids us in more quickly identifying people and places that bring us down, if we allow it to. 

Some of the most beautiful art and music--arguably our only positive legacy on earth--comes from places of deep despair, broken people who couldn't function in society but stirred emotion by making sound or vision.  That's incredible to me.  In fact, I would argue that you can't have great creations without a great range of emotion from the creators.  Nobody with a 24-7 sunny disposition exists, and if they did a) nobody would like them and b) they damn sure couldn't create Swans Reflecting Elephants, or the Overture of 1812.


I mentioned before that it's human nature to avoid negativity and anything that makes us feel discomfort.  It is also our destiny as meatbags full of bacteria that we will feel discomfort no matter what.  Be a realist.  Get used to it.  That's what I do.  I suck it the fuck up and when I see the storm of depression or suicidal thoughts coming over the horizon, I accept that it's going to happen.  I'm not going to enjoy it.  I'm not going to prefer it over the good days.  I'm not even sure if I'm going to survive.  But I wasn't sure if I was going to survive anyway, so that's irrelevant.  I will take it for what it is, whatever negativity it may be.  It's a part of me.

And I will not be ashamed of that part of me, or try to hide it, or cover it up with a sandwich of compliments.  There's a lot beautiful about life and it's not always positive.  I'm okay being the antagonist, or the devil's advocate on this issue.  But I say, the whole movement is exhausting, fake, obnoxious, annoying, short-sighted, ignorant, and unnecessary.  Embrace the sadness!  It is a part of us all.  

3.28.2018

Wastelander's Ball

So, I wanted to wait until some official photos came out to post this, but I'm just kind of writing things on the fly now!  I felt so excited about this event and it's been in the back of my mind so much that I just want to get the details of the experience down before I forget them.



The same people who put on the Wasteland Weekend event tried something new in 2017--a Wastelander's "Ball"....post apocalyptic, but fancy.  From what I understand it obviously was a hit, and they announced a second annual event sometime toward the end of that year.  I got tickets for Allyn and I as a birthday gift to him (and presented the present as an old, worn invitation stuck inside a Nuka-cola bottle) back in January.  We immediately got to work on our costumes.

Allyn started watching a show, Blood Drive, right around this time and fell in love with a character named Julian Slink.  Slink dressed fancy, and post-apocalyptic, so Allyn did a bit of a costume mixed with a cosplay on this one.  I just went with full on froofy ballgown, because duh.  The only faction regal enough to pull that off is the Legion, and that's exactly what I modeled mine after.  The past few months has been filled with scrambling to glue, cut, paint, spraypaint, and mash together everything.  We pulled it off with help from Niki and Derik--I couldn't believe it, but we looked fantastic!

Getting There

LA is a ten hour drive for us.  We got the weekend off and I used my master of travel planning skills to decide the best way to do it was drive to Primm, Nevada, stay overnight, then go to the party/stay in LA, and drive home Sunday.  It worked out so well that I have to once again applaud myself.  Frittering away all over the states and the globe has paid off so that I rarely end up stumped about travel plans, I don't overdo my schedule or energy, and I don't end up STRANDED IN THE AIRPORT---looking at you, Arlanda 2009.  Holy shit, that was almost ten years ago.

Anyway, Primm was so great--I'll definitely stay there again.  Whiskey Pete's was remodeled and the rooms were just as fresh as anything in Vegas, with none of the crowd (just kidding, there was a crowd, this big desert race was happening that weekend...) and all of the amenities.  I actually had pertussis and bronchitis during the trip that got so bad I ended up with full-blown laryngitis, so I crashed early.  The amazing thing about Allyn is that even while I slept in Nevada, he was working on my codpiece, and finished it in the hotel room.

After exploring for a bit--the Bonnie and Clyde car is in the casino on display, so that was super cool to see, and we also made a pit stop at my home away from home, Goodsprings--we got back on the road with a few hours left before the big night.


I'll get back to the road trip in a minute, but I just have to make my usual sappy, sentimental post on how much this area of the world means to me.  I'm lucky I'm just a few hours away.  New Vegas shaped my life in so many different ways, it almost feels like a religion.  Standing in the Goodsprings cemetery is always indescribable, and I got to take Allyn there this time.  

Anyway, we left Goodsprings with rocks in our pockets and headed to California.  Sunny California, where we were instantly bombarded with rain the entire drive.  I am not complaining much, because it was beautiful and humid and a lot like home, and probably helped me breathe a bit better.  We arrived at the hotel and pretty much started costuming up.  I did Allyn's makeup and my makeup, and everything was way easier than I expected it would be due to good planning on both our parts.


The next part was definitely the most stressful: getting to the venue.  I had already booked us a parking spot in a garage, but this was downtown LA and I had never been.  I also don't wish to ever go again, because that place is just awful.  I hate cities, and I hate people, and I hate everything...but this was especially bad.  I've never seen so many homeless people, some of the freeway passes looked like District 9.  I'm quite used to poverty, but urban poverty is somehow especially devastating to me, likely because I am so unfamiliar with it.

Anyway, we get to the parking garage and the angry little dude tells us that our truck is too big.  Allyn risked going down anyway and I think we cleared with about 1 centimeter left.  From there we could walk a few blocks to the venue.  We were so early (good planning what can I say) that we had time to eat.  We stopped for drinks at a bar nearby and got a lot of compliments.  We also got some hamburgers and a homeless guy asked for some food, and Allyn gave him a burger and was really annoyed about it until I pointed out that the guy had guts coming up to the only people in the place dressed fucking ridiculously terrifying and asking for food.  Haha.  (We later saw him again and he was profoundly more cheerful and grateful after the food, so that cheered Allyn up a bit)

The Party
When I went to my first Rammstein concert I had no idea what to expect.  The 'typical' Rammstein fan is a surly angry goth in a trenchcoat with a spiked collar, and I thought that me not fitting that stereotype would make me an outsider.  When we all gathered outside the Denver Colosseum though, my fears were washed away as I saw every age, race, social class, and style of human there--and the giddiness and love of Rammstein was present in every single person.  We didn't even need to introduce ourselves, we just babbled and nerded out.

Wastelanders are the same.  They're my people, even if I don't know them.  You show up and stand there waiting for the venue to open, so excited you could burst into flame, and nobody cares what you sound like or where you come from, they just want to talk about the apocalypse n shit.  It's just amazing.  I never connect with people and I absolutely don't connect with crowds--I mean, I literally left in a panic during my EMT instructor class because we had to do a group activity--but this crowd you can't help but connect with.

I'll take this opportunity to mention that Allyn and I actually first "bonded" over Wasteland Weekend.  I'd been talking to a fellow guard about the event, and the guard turned around and mentioned it to Allyn after Allyn glimpsed a Mad Max wallpaper on my computer.  I don't think that guard realized that he was accidentally creating an avenue of us to start talking, but that's how we did!  Feels really good going to an event together after that legacy.

Onto the ball itself!  The venue was decked out, it looked AMAZING.  We were like kids at a candy shop.  I still couldn't speak at this point but it appeared everybody around me was so drunk or happy they didn't even notice.  Maybe it just went well with my imposing character to glare silently while Allyn translated whatever I needed to say.  I didn't get too many venue pictures, but it's because I was too busy having fun, really.  We watched some aerial dancers, and participated in a really cool group ballroom dance lesson.  Interjection--the instructor was so professional and maintained her composure while being surrounded by total weirdos, most of whom were already inebriated.  She was snarky and hilarious, perfect for the Wasteland ball.  Also, even the ultimate introvert-me-got to mingle with a lot of people because we kept trading partners.  This is the kind of interaction I can get behind--a minute or two of dancing aaaaaaaaaand go away now, repeat.



You can see Allyn in this photo, he's the top hat in the lower right corner.  I think I'm in the bottom left, but it's hard to tell.  Anyway, after the dance lesson there was more music and a performance by Hell's Sirens, some really awesome bellydancers.  The final performer opened her piece by walking around the audience and painting inverted crosses on random "chosen" onlookers, in fake blood.  She marked one guy near us and with every ounce of willpower I conjured up enough of my voice to say "Now you're fucked."  He shrugged, "Yeah....well, I had a good run."

Another item of note--we ran into a maker of uranium bullets, which fascinated me so much he seemed amused at my awestruck gaze and gave me a uranium bullet bracelet, and he was the only person who knew who Allyn's costume was supposed to be.  He'd worked on the set of Blood Drive, and that's pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard of.  We were both nerd-level excited.  I was wearing my Vault 34 shoes, and showed them off to a few people who mentioned that I was with the Legion.  I was too sick to even attempt dancing after the lesson, but I guess while I was in the restroom a girl came up to ask Allyn to dance.  He declined her! What a jerk!  I told him next time he'd better say yes.

Anyway, we ended up leaving early because the very light exercise in dancing just became too much for me.  I was feverish and sick and disgusting and couldn't talk or move.  I didn't mind leaving early but felt bad that Allyn didn't get to enjoy the ball for longer.  You know how these things get as the night progresses.  At least I lasted as long as I did, which is surprising, because I was reeeeeeeally sick.  I collapsed at the hotel pretty much immediately and slept way too late the next morning.

Going Home

It's always nice to go home after you've had a good time out.  Allyn and I stopped at a random gas station to use the bathroom, but everybody else in the world was in this one lone gas station (going home from the race I mentioned) so we opted to just go out in the desert a ways and pee.  That ended up turning into a mini off-road session with the rental truck.  We also stopped at a deserted..who knows what?  It looked like a gas station and restaurant, but had long been taken over by raiders.

Edit: I went and googled and apparently this place was once called Halloran Springs.  Wow! What a difference.  So cool to see the 'before.' These days I'd like to think the surviving architecture could be renamed "Eat Passy."


  


a) can I just do like Myspace Tom and cash out an empire and spend my life doing photography? I'd be happy to photograph this shit forever

b) isn't Allyn such a dreamy hunk?  I love that he loves exploring the dredges of the world (and prefers them) just like me.

Anyway, that pretty much sums up the trip.  I can't wait to go back to the Mojave later this year, to Vegas.  I have a better appreciation for Southern California and won't mind going back to the various Wasteland events we're sure to go to.

3.08.2018

The Ritual

(spoilers)

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I FOUND A GREAT MOVIE

I very rarely get excited about movies.  I am a complete movie snob.  I went through a period in my early 20's where I didn't even watch a movie for maybe three years?  I get so annoyed knowing the clock is moving and my day is wasting and whatever I'm watching is poorly written or acted, or both.

I love horror, just, in general as a part of my life--haha--but unfortunately horror is one of the genres least likely to impress a total snob like me.  So on the very short list of movies that I enjoy, the slots for horror are even more limited.  This sucks for me because like I said, I love scary stuff and being spooked and ghosts and nightmares and horribleness.  Movies just take the "cheap scary" lazy route (one of the main reasons video games are superior.)  I roll my eyes at gore, I sleep through possessions, and every ghost that I get excited about ends up being an over-the-top spookfest at the end of the movie or doing like the movie 'Mama' and turning into a Tim Burton edgefest.


I found the movie on a whim because I was bored and Netflix was available.  I freaking love when I have luck like that.  I was so enchanted with this movie that I stopped whatever craft I was doing to just watch, enraptured.  The wind was blowing super hard that night, we had gusts up to 97 miles an hour, and the CREEP FACTOR was SO HIGH, just sitting there in the dark with the wind howling through the walls and doors.

There's so much to love about the Ritual.  Honestly, the opening scene where Rob dies was really stomach-churning for me.  Like I say, I roll my eyes at gore, but it was subtle and realistic, which made it way "scarier."  From there the movie really took off.  I thought the pacing and momentum were great, and even though they had some pretty cliche 'horror story in the woods' opportunities here--cabin at night, creepy wooden idol, weird Swedish hillbillies...they really did well with them.



When Luke woke up from his nightmare and realized he was outside then rushed back inside to find everyone in chaos I was legitimately terrified!  Stuff like this is just really eerie and that's what I love.  It's the same reason I prefer horror video games: plot building, characterization, atmosphere, more atmosphere, a sense of dread, and did I mention atmosphere?  Specifically the sound direction was great--there was no music, just the ominous 'something in the woods' snaps and pops and ooooh I'm getting creeped out just thinking about it.  I grew up in the woods and can attest to how terrifying they get, even in the middle of the day with the sun shining.  

Another thing I loved is that the 'creature' was actually shown.  That can either pay off or be really cheesy and so far most people who I've convinced to watch the movie agree that it paid off.  So many movies do a cop-out and make something Christian (demons, devil, blah blah blah same old crap) and pray the monster away that I have gotten accustomed to my hopes being crushed.  This story actually stuck to a Nordic bastardized creature and wow!  That character design.  I'd play that video game.  No seriously, I loved the way it looked, it added so much to the movie at the end.

On the same "everything can be bible-shouted-at-awayed" annoyance and its blissful absence here, this movie had less religious reasons for Luke's survival and more human ones.  He overcame his guilt, his "pain" as the one follower called it, and I think that's beautiful.  Maybe a bit anti-climactic as to the method, but I really enjoyed his angry scream into the wilderness.




The only head-scratchy part for me were the draugr-esque like people in the attic at the end.  They were severely creepy and I LOVED the scene and the setting on of fire, but I wasn't sure who they were.  Really old worshippers? Original bodies of worshippers who were now in younger bodies? Punished souls? The dead?  I need more info, Ritual, pls.  

Just a mention about Sweden--I had no idea when I hit 'play' that I was watching a movie supposedly taking place in Sweden.  Honestly if they hadn't stressed it I wouldn't have known.  The terrain just looked...not Swedish (it's mostly flat, thanks to ice caps squashing it on their way down) and as another friend noted, if they were there in winter there would be no daylight, and if they were there in summer, there would be no sunset.  Day and night seemed to progress normally, which makes sense when you realize it was filmed in Romania, nowhere near the land of the Midnight Sun.

I think those are minor details though, only because the mood of the forest was so good and spooky.  I'll suspend belief since this is literally about a Loki-child monster that eats people and gets worshipped by Deliverance Swedes.

So anyway, check it out!  That's it from me until we return from our California Wasteland Adventure!!! I'm so excited you guys.