Fever & chills

I started getting sick yesterday afternoon. Maybe the intense headaches I had every day last week were related, but I didn’t really start feeling bad until we were sitting in Logan’s having an after-church lunch with friends. I was feeling pretty icky by the time we got home and was running a low grade temperature when I went to bed at 9pm.

After a virtually restless night, I awoke this morning with a 101.3 temp and nausea. I managed to down some saltine crackers and ibuprofen before stumbling off to work. The stomach situation worsened as the day wore on, so I called my primary care physician to see if she would call in a prescription – which she did.

Honey went to pick up the meds, and since we are expecting a big winter ice storm with widespread power outages, he decided to swing by a home improvement store to purchase a propane gas heater. Unfortunately, they were sold out.

If the weatherman gets this one right, Red Cross volunteers might stop by here in a few days to discover a couple of frozen-to-death gay guys.

Dorothy & dieting

Our neighbor/friend, Dorothy, got to come home from the hospital today – and not a moment too soon. We are both terribly exhausted from the ordeal and thankful that we don’t have to sleep on hospital furniture tonight. Her medical tests that were performed yesterday revealed several intestinal problems, but nothing serious enough that it can’t be treated with medication and diet changes.

Speaking of diets, I’ve decided that I want to lose 25 pounds by May. That’s when Honey will officially walk the aisle and get his bachelor’s degree, and we want to celebrate by going on a nice, long vacation – preferably somewhere with sand and sun. Although most people wouldn’t consider me to be overweight, I don’t like the extra blubber that has accumulated around my midsection over the last four years and I don’t want to wander around the beach looking like a muffin-top.

So far, my attempts at cutting back have consisted of replacing cheeseburgers, fries, and sodas with Subway cold cuts on wheat bread and water. Dinner tonight was some low-fat, high-fiber Campbell’s soup, crackers, and a slice of cheese. I was still starving immediately after eating, so pacified my sweet tooth with a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (hey, at least it’s whole grain).

This isn’t going to be easy…

Update on my so-called life

Some of my regular readers have pointed out that I don’t really write much anymore. I post little tidbits and mindless dribble about politics and celebrities, but very little about myself. There are several reasons why I haven’t been putting forth much effort in that department, but the primary ones are laziness, feeling like I’m repeating myself, and not really having anything that important going on in my life. When I started this blog I intended to use it as a virtual diary, so I’m going to try to head back in that direction.

The best thing that has happened in my life recently is that my partner finally got to return to school to finish his degree. We are both elated that he can move forward and hopefully have a bachelor’s degree under his belt sometime in December.

Speaking of school, I’ve put my plans of changing careers on hold. Changing jobs and all the on-the-clock training that entails has left me with little desire to further my education in the classroom. I did feel a few pangs of jealousy recently when I went to registration with Honey, but I know that I’m still young enough that I can afford to procrastinate a bit. I’m making good money now, so while having a degree might give me a little more self-worth, I’m not sure it would really improve my quality of life.

Things are still a little weird with my family. My sister and I started talking again recently (although most of our contact consists of text-messaging). She made the first move – calling me and leaving a rather kind message on my machine. My mother contacted me yesterday via email – our first correspondence in around four months.

While I’ll feel much better when things are back to “normal” with my family, the part that continues to make me angry is that my feelings never seem to matter. They discriminate, I get angry and make ultimatums, then we just go on with our little lives like nothing ever happened. I guess that’s the definition of “dysfunctional family,” eh?

Speaking of “dysfunctional,” it seems that my body is falling to pieces. The nuclear test that was ran on my gallbladder a few weeks ago showed that it is only working 30% of the time. This seems to be wreaking havoc on my digestive system, since the extra bile the organ stores when malfunctioning gets flushed into my stomach all at once. My stomach tries to counteract the extra bile by producing more acid – causing acid reflux and the resulting chest pain. Doctor advised that I have it removed as quickly as possible, but not wanting to have surgery, I told her that I needed some time to think about it.

A few nights ago, I started getting a fever without any indication of being ill. It went to 101.5 before I caved in and took some Tylenol. I spent most of the next day feeling like crap – no appetite, no energy. The fever returned the next night, along with pain when urinating and sitting down.

Seems my prostate is the culprit, and after a rather thorough and embarrassing exam, Doctor joked that I was falling apart and playfully referred to me as “Humpty Dumpty.” Then she put me on antibiotics and abstinence for two weeks. And… she’s setting me up with a surgeon to get the gallbladder removed. Here’s to feeling twice your age (clink).

So, that’s about it. Just don’t expect the posts about politics to go away anytime soon.

Blogbits

Caffeine – I’ve done pretty well with cutting caffeine out of my diet. In the last week, I’ve only had two Dr. Peppers and a few glasses of tea. Other than that, I’ve mostly had water.

Cats – I’m a big softie when it comes to starving or needy creatures, so it wasn’t a hard decision for me to start feeding the skinny feline who showed up outside. She typically shows up for kibble after I get off from work, and she rewards me for being big-hearted by pooping in the driveway.

She must have kittens tucked away somewhere, as she appears to have been nursing. I wonder how long it will be before she brings the kids over for dinner?

Wal-Mart Buggies – Every stinking time I go to WM, I get a faulty shopping cart – one that squeaks, rattles, wobbles, or wants to veer to one side or the other. I suspect those smirky door greeters are to blame, since they always select which carts are up front. I bet they pick out the most raggedy buggies they can find and laugh behind their false teeth as we try to push them into the store.

Prilosec OTC – Two words… miracle drug. It’s made a huge difference in the way I feel and pretty much eliminated the pain that I was feeling in my chest. I always assumed that acid reflux would have a burning sensation, but it turns out it can feel like pressure, too.

Dr. Pepper: Not what the doctor ordered

My absolutely favorite drink in the entire world is Dr. Pepper. I usually have several a day, even though I often get picked on for only drinking half of a 12 ounce can. I think that’s because I like them very cold, and they don’t have quite the same appeal after they’ve been out of the fridge for more than a few minutes.

dr_pepper_logoI’ve been having some unexplained stomach pain on my right side over the past week, so I decided to try to make some changes to my diet to see if it improved. I started eating whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, and even cut back on the caffeine, but saw no improvement. In fact, I went to the ER on Sunday with chest pains.

The tests they ran on me pretty much ruled out any heart or lung problems, but were unable to explain my pain, elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and low-grade temperature. I was instructed to follow up with my regular doctor.

Dr. thinks the problem might be my gallbladder, but wants to rule out something more serious first. I will have a stress test and ultrasound on Thursday. For now, I have been placed on pain and anti-anxiety medication and a bland diet.

I’ve heard the expression “bland diet” before, but thought it referred to eating healthy. Turns out, it’s a very unhealthy way of eating. After rattling off the list of foods I can’t eat – dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables, spicy dishes, sugary foods, caffeinated drinks, nuts – I was told that I could eat things like potatoes, pasta, and bread. You know, carbs.

I can live with most of the (hopefully) temporary changes in my diet, but the one thing that is driving me crazy is going without Dr. Pepper. The beautiful burgundy cans beckon to me from the refrigerator at work, but I know that I’m better off to leave them be. Maybe, just maybe, I can lay off caffeine for good.

In the meantime, I’m off to drown my sorrows in a glass of ice water.

Vitiligo: More than skin deep

An interesting story on CNN’s website this morning tells of a television news anchor, Lee Thomas, who is dealing with vitiligo, a disease that destroys the pigment of the skin. This anchor has revealed his condition in order to help others who are going through the same thing, something the director of the National Vitiligo Foundation describes as a disease that attacks the soul and psyche.

vitiligo_1 vitligo_2

Another (and much more famous) vitiligo sufferer, Michael Jackson, has often been the subject of choice for late-night jokesters, many insinuating that the change in his skin color was intentional. Most people wouldn’t put anything past a celebrity that would drastically alter his nose and exhibit bizarre behavior, but perhaps we should ponder what role vitiligo might have played in his obvious issues with self-esteem.

When Michael tearfully announced the reason for his changing skin color during an interview with Oprah in 1993, it was evident that the issue was quite painful. After explaining that he used makeup to even out the skin tone, he was asked why he doesn’t use brown makeup. Jackson claimed that most of his skin is already white, so using that much brown makeup was not an option. This was backed up by a statement from Karen Faye, his longtime makeup artist.

It started happening relatively early, he even was trying to hide it from me..he tried to hide it for quite awhile. He’d always try to cover it with makeup and even out his skin tone until it got so extensive. It’s all over his body. We were always trying to hide it and cover it for the longest time until he just had to tell Oprah and tell the world, ‘Listen I’m not trying to be white, I have a skin disease.’

In the beginning I tried to cover the light spots to match the darker part of his skin, but then it became so extensive that we had to go with the lighter part of his skin because his whole body was reacting…he’d have to be in complete full body makeup, every inch of his body. So it was easier to make the transition to him being to the lighter shade that he is.

Skeptics immediately pounced on Jackson, spreading rumors of skin-bleaching products and internalized racism. Many claimed that Michael no longer wanted to be black. Some said that he so despised his father that he altered his very race. Others said that he became unidentifiable sexually and racially so that he could appeal to a broader audience. Despite the naysayers, Michael continued to proclaim pride in his heritage.

I’m a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity.

We tried to control it and using make-up evens it out because it makes blotches on my skin. I have to even out my skin. But you know what’s funny, why is that so important? That’s not important to me.

I’m a great fan of art. I love Michaelangelo, if I had a chance to talk to him or read about him I would want to know what inspired him to become who he is, the anatomy of his craftsmanship, not about who he went out with last night… I mean that’s what is important to me.

I have seen plenty of pictures that would seem to prove that Michael does indeed suffer from this affliction. The following photos were taken a few years ago when Jackson reportedly suffered a life-threatening brown recluse spider bite. Although the wound is the most prominent feature in the photographs, they also reveal that his legs have undergone a dramatic change in skin color.

mj_spider1 mj_spider2

The following photographs were taken during the filming of Michael’s short film “They Don’t Care About Us”, and they clearly show blotches on his chest and arms.

Michael Jackson Michael Jackson

When one considers the emotional turmoil that such a condition might have on a person that lives in the spotlight, the gloves, surgical masks, and long wigs begin to make a bit more sense. Below are photos of Michael on a recent shopping excursion, wrapped head to toe and covering his skin with adhesive bandages. This man seems so uncomfortable in his own skin that he’s become a tragic shadow of his former self.

mj_shopping1 mj_shopping2

As for the news anchor I mentioned earlier, he’s decided to stop wearing makeup when he’s off camera, and believes that vitiligo has actually had a positive impact on his life.

Having this disease forces me to focus on what I am: kind, caring, honest. There are people who have diseases that will kill them.

Read more about vitiligo here.