There are those...

Posted October 23, 2014 @ 12:43am | by S. Cutshall

...that like me, for some odd reason, and there are those that more or less despise me. And while there might be a few reasons for either camp I've always suspected it to be based around my penchant for honesty. More often than not, brutally raw honesty.

So, in keeping the scant couple folks that like me on any given day pleased while adding a gleefully resounding "HAHA, YAY!!" for those many that don't, I am gonna spill the beans on what's been happening with me.

Earlier blog updates here pretty much spell out the back story... shortened version:
back in July, lightheadedness on ride and walks, occasional sinking feeling while doing either of the aforementioned, all of which led me into the vaunted halls of Kaiser Permanente for labs, physicals, x-rays and lastly, a CT Scan.

Well the good news is, everything came back stellar and negative.

The bad news... everything came back stellar and negative.

"What the fuck is wrong with me then?" pretty much became my morning to night mantra.

Along with all this business of Negativeness I sensed a growing sense of welling nervousness, anxiety, stress and occasionally irritability inside me. My RN wife assured me this to be absolutely business as usual for such things.

I started seeing an Eastern Medicine cat too. Acupuncture, stress point therapy, lots of talk... it was, it is, been good for me.

And then in the midst of all this September 19th appeared...

Innocently and status quo enough too. Amy was at work, Chloe still in bed, I looked at my phone on my way out the door to walk up the street for coffee. A voicemail from our landlord, "Hey Scott. Please give me a call when you get a chance."
I figured Amy had mailed the rent check the day it was due.

20 minutes later, coffee in hand, sitting outside in our backyard in the beginnings of a lucky PNW Indian Summer, I called her.

Nine or so minutes later, and after consoling her to not feel bad (what the fuck, Scott?), she had announced we were about to become homeless on November 15th (she and her husband want their daughter to move into our place so her commute to college will be shorter).

More stress, anxiety, irritability.

In a flurry of still not fully understood "how the fuck did we do that exactly?" we signed a lease on a new house within nine days... albeit 16 miles outside of Portland (one of our greatest collective shocks after the landlord's call was the realization that in the 6 years we had been here Portland has exploded with incoming hipsters and Wealthafarians from California--thusly driving not only purchasable real estate through the stratosphere but gutting the rental market to the point where on any given day PDX fluctuates between 1 & 2% vacancy rates for all types of rentals).

While all that was happening we tried our best as a family to smile through my, then Chloe's, and lastly, Amy's birthdays. It didn't really work. But the day after we did sign that beloved lease (farmhouse, built in 1900, historically registered, huge yard with heirloom apple and plum trees, and perhaps best of all... Chloe, after years of never have one, has her very own bedroom--what every teen needs) Amy announced that she had also planned a small family vacation before all the housing shit had hit the fan. Four days on Long Beach in Washington State, having rented us a 1948 Spartan travel trailer in this freakishly cool resort that owns many of these relics of rounded aluminum from a bygone era. It sounded precisely like the antidote we all needed.

Amy drove the 2.5 hour drive while Chloe listened to her iPod and I chatted with my wife. Crossing the big bridge at Astoria, Oregon, big ass weird designed bridge that's one part bridge and 2/3rds causeway, that bridges the gap between Oregon & Washington over the mouth of the Columbia River as it spills out and into the Pacific Ocean, I asked Amy if that crossing had made her nervous at all--she answered that it hadn't. For the first time in my life, a bridge crossing had.

We got onto the business of enjoying our hard earned vacation... but truthfully the bridge thing stuck with me. Kind of pissing me off and kind of making me curious what the deal with it had been. So the next morning I woke Chloe up and told her we should go back across to treat mom to some Starbucks coffee while she slept in.
Off we went.
As we approached the bridge I felt apprehensive.
When we got to the actual right hand turn to enter it I directed the car into the left lane to continue onward. Chloe, surprised by our course redirect, asked, "Dad? The bridge dude!"
I poo-poo'd the whole thing off by telling her I'd seen a really cool mom & pop coffee place a few miles back but hadn't turned in because I thought we could drive by the entrance to the bridge and check it all out before heading back. I added, "Plus, it's wasteful to drive 18 miles just for coffee," knowing that one would win her environmental heart over. It did.

Later that day I came clean to Amy. She smiled and said, "I knew that something like that must have happened." When I looked confused she added, "Your remark about asking me if I was nervous crossing it yesterday... well, I figured you'd push yourself to try it while we were up here. Don't push yourself so hard. Take it slow. Be kind to yourself."

And that was that.


Also in tandem with all this, actually about a week before the vacation began, Amy had insisted on me starting on FloNase--because one of the largest symptoms I was experiencing was lightheadedness she thought it was all going to come out in the open as being some type of serious sinusitis. So I had been religiously snorting that lavender shit morning & night for about week before we left for vacation.

The next day I intended to do the bridge solo sans family. Lucky for me, very fucking lucky, Amy awoke with me and said she wanted to go along.

The entire 14 miles there, before you actually catch a glimpse of the gangly looming green steel contraption, Amy was chatting away about buying Chloe a kite to fly later that day on the beach (the town we were staying at, Seaview, is apparently a kind of kite flying mecca for people who fly kites) while I had an ever increasing cannon ball resting on my chest.

We got to the turn for the bridge and I turned.

About 800 yards onto it, with 10 cars behind us, I grabbed the chest part of my seatbelt and yanked it as far away from me as I could while simultaneously asking Amy to please steer the car so I could look down. When she did I slammed the hazards light and then the brakes and started to open the door. With nowhere to pull off or over I basically stopped the car on our lane. Fortunately there wasn't much oncoming traffic so those behind us waited for a second and then just casually passed us (probably thinking, "Goddamn Oregonian tourists... don't they know there is NO stopping on this bridge"). I have no recall, still now either, but I ended up in the passenger seat with Amy driving. My head is in between my legs as far as I can possibly get it (forehead nearly touching carpeting on the floor) when Amy announces, "Fuck. There's construction honey. Just hang tight, you're going to be just fine I promise."

I vaguely recall crying a lot, my glasses laying on the floor mat, and then fishing my iPhone from my pocket and playing, while not actually playing, Tiny Wings with the volume as cranked as my phone would allow.

We made it to Starbucks and sat in the parking lot for 45 minutes while I went from talking to crying to screaming to talking to begging her to, "leave me in this parking lot, go back across, gather up Chloe and our shit, come back for me and lets go home, PLEASE??"

Eventually she talked me down, got our coffee, and with head buried again, made it back across the behemoth of steel.

We had that day and night left of our vacation but when Amy took Chloe for her kite all I could think about was somehow convincing them both that we should leave that night, after darkness falls--so I wouldn't see so much, and spend our final night on the Oregon side... and perhaps take a longer route home, stopping in Seaside so Chloe could have more kite flying time, thusly trying to add some semblance of Normal to all my Abnormal.

I broached the topic in the evening. Within 20 minutes Amy had us booked at a little mom & pop motel in Warrenton, OR where they'd leave our key in a flower box by our room for our after-hours arrival, and we began packing up. We left the travel trailer management a tip and a note saying there had been an emergency in the family (no shit) and were gone.

I made it back across again.

The next day was fantastic for me and the girls... we stopped in Seaside and kited for hours before heading back to PDX.

Stupidly I figured this was all just some symptom of all the physical shit I had been going through, then the ousting from our crib too, even Amy agreed by adding, "Don't worry about any of it. You just feel very vulnerable"

Two days later, back home, I went on a very long walk solo. One of my favorite routes. Beautiful sunny day to boot. First half is all up hill, second-down. When I got to the furtherest point, about 82 city blocks away from our soon-to-be former house, I had this very intense lightheaded episode. Completely caught me off guard. I stopped walking and took a minute to get my bearings and started back up again. Within a couple blocks I noticed two smaller episodes and then BAM--I became very anxious and panicky. I realized I hadn't taken my phone, was a good long distance from home, very exposed and vulnerable. As I made my way down hill after hill, I kept wondering who was watching me walk because I knew my gait had to look weird (I was walking wide-legged and slow while keeping my head facing down toward the sidewalk and holding the back of my neck with my left hand). Also, anyone approaching me on the sidewalk, people walking after dinner/walking their dogs/etc, I'd fly to the opposite sidewalk for fear that they'd notice how freaked out I was. I almost buckled twice, one guy was watering his yard--the other, working in his garage at a work bench with the door open, asking for someone to please call my wife's cell phone because I had hurt my ankle (or any other excuse I would come up with on the fly) but didn't because I just somehow knew if I asked for help I'd start crying and if they didn't end up calling 911 at minimum I would end up fodder for their family's dinner table later that night.

I took two very short and tense breaks nearing home but I made it home. Once there, immediate relief. No residue, just immediate relief. Later, I guess looking/trying to find/begging for any usable goddamn clue as to what the hell was going wrong with me, I looked up FloNase and Anxiety Attacks on Google. Whoa. After Amy read what I found, she basically hugged me while crying and apologized for being so insistent that I use the steroid (I had had a very bad reaction to steroids years early that Amy was privy to... but she figured FloNase wouldn't be an issue because it was inhaled vs. what I was given years back, a direct injection).

Two days later we began our move from the old to the new place. As long as I kept working, humping boxes into the truck, packing shit, lifting & carrying, the day went good. That said, when I thought about all three of us getting into the cab for the 25 minute drive to the new place I could feel my chest tighten up like a vise. Also, earlier that day--I had asked Amy and Chloe to go get the truck at U-Haul via a taxi so I wouldn't have to drive at all--or even ride along.

At that first day's end I directed Amy out of our driveway and onto the street and while I climbed in my legs felt like freshly chewed gum. But I made it through the next two days of the same.

On that 2nd day all of us, as in ALL OF US, came down with bronchitis. Fucking lovely.

I ended up going to the ER three days later and got placed on an antibiotic and nebulizer.

The following day Amy had me scheduled for my CT Scan, and the next after that--a trip to our Doc because of the whole vacation bridge bullshit.

I got pretty bad at the CT Scan (Amy had to be in the room with me holding my hand) but made it through. Car rides were okay as long as I kept my head down and made a lot of small talk.

The Doc visit, well I basically lost it there.

Ended up walking out of there with a prescription for Zoloft and an emergency backup of Lorazepam. Both the Doc and Amy didn't give a shit that I protested by stating, "I don't like Meds. I don't trust them. I can fix this."

"50mg's for 10 days, you'll notice a difference in a week's time, and then we ramp up to 100mg's for another 20 days and I want to see you back here," and that was that.

Immediately I got constipated. Gallons of water, a Trader Joe's probiotic supplement and 8 organic prunes split into 2's before & after breakfast and then after lunch & dinner has pretty much solved that issue.

I remained patient awaiting some Zoloft'ian miracle. We had one big final move day ahead of us. This time a 26 foot truck (the other two days, the week prior, were 20-footers) and the truly heavy shit-furniture, electronics, drums and cymbals.

We began at 8am and finished at 12 Midnight (called in a friend for the final push, Sean-the cat shooting the mini-documentary on Mister Humpty Dumpty, me)... all three of us hacking, coughing, even doubled over at times, always yakking up greenish brown phlegm--new fucking neighbors probably think a family with TB just moved in next door. But we got it done. And done precisely before the rain started falling that night at 12:09am.

So we are in.

I take Zoloft.

I don't ride a bike at all.

I unpack boxes and wonder what precisely has happened to me. I am scheduled to see a therapist this Friday. I did notice an improvement yesterday, really started thinking, "Wow, man. Maybe this Zoloft shit really does have some magic mojo to it?" and felt so good I planned a nice, casual, 2.5 mile walk with Chloe (who walks around with mostly a fake smile on her face these days about her dad's fall from grace) to find the gravesite of the woman who built our new abode (it's fairly well-documented here in Oregon City)...

didn't make it there. Chloe's dad, the guy she used to brag about because he slayed dragons, weight, miles on a bike and was a fearless warrior, made it within three blocks of the historic cemetery and looked at her, eyes bulging out according to her later last night once her mom was home from work, and began crying while saying, "This isn't working honey. I am so sorry. You need to help me make it home".

Whereupon her once heroic father had to take his very first Lorazepam while sitting on the kitchen floor with his head in between his knees. 

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