Sunday, September 16, 2012
Yeah, insert it there. I thought about "light at the end of the tunnel", "beacon of hope", or even "for the better". I didn't think any of them were really fitting, though.
I meant to write this update several days ago, but as always, I was busy. I've had truckloads of homework to catch up on. Hell, I'm not actually done catching up, but I have the rest of today to finish it... since my cooking class has been "rescheduled" (more on that later).
On Sunday the 9th, I was able to go visit my mom for the first time since she entered detox. I'm the only person in my family that was able to come (although my aunt and grandma had made a fun trip to SD the day before... odd) and it was a pretty short window of visit (only 2.5 hours). Sadly, that meant I had to miss the ice skating Spark Rally that was planned for that day. I've never been ice skating and I was sorta the one pushing for it, so it really was a bummer that I couldn't make it after all. But, family is important and visiting my mom was very important. No one should have to be alone on visiting day. So, I packed up a healthy picnic and we ate on the grass within viewing distance of the facility. My mom requested some healthy food, which I would have done anyway, and I happily got some yummies together. We had chicken cobb/chef salad stuffed pitas. Whole wheat pita pockets, romaine and spinach mix, grape tomatoes, hardboiled eggs, black olives, cheddar cheese, cucumber, beets, and of course, chicken. I made homemade blue cheese salad dressing with peppers from my garden and olive oil mayo. It was so delicious! We stuffed our pitas so thick with veggies, we could barely eat them! I also made a coleslaw with vinegar-based dressing (no mayo!) and took some Panera lobster bisque. WARNING: the soup is ah-mazing! Highly addictive if I may say so. Very indulgent and probably terrible for you, but worth it for the decadence as a splurge. I also packed some fresh strawberries, crudite, and a Costco blueberry muffin. I brewed some iced tea for my mom and I packed a flavored mineral water for myself. It was a nice visit.
It looked like this, only in pita and picnic form
My mom already seemed in better spirits. She knew then that the possibility of her going to a residential treatment program was nil, so she came up with an "alternate" plan. In our hometown through the county is a substance abuse treatment program that's out-patient. So, she said she'd do that. And, of course, start attending AA meetings. She decided to see an additional counselor that she's seen before and really liked (her current shrink/s are idiots, but she says she's still okay seeing them as long as she sees this other person, too). Unfortch, we're from a small town, so the selection for medical stuff is pretty limited. But, I was proud and delighted to hear she has a plan.
The rest of my week went okay. Practicum was notable on Tuesday because I finally had my preceptor there! WOO! Felt like we were finally able to get down to BIDNISS! I really like her. She doesn't hold anything back. If something sucks about her job, she'll tell us. If something is awesome about her job, she'll tell us that, too. Its nice to not have any sugar coating. I don't like surprises, so if I went into this similar job and discovered something totally blew, I don't wanna be like "I didn't know I'd hate this." I just wanna know what I'm in for as much as possible. Wednesday, I went through the 5 hour process of being a new donor for blood plasma. Good thing I took homework with me. But, the process of donating from here on out should be less than 2 hours (it takes about an hour for me to donate my full bottle of plasma). Thursday's practicum was notable in that the kitchen crew yelled at my fellow student and I, which was really uncalled for. I'll explain...
At the meal times, it is someone's job to check to ensure that the meal tray for each resident has *exactly* what it says on the meal ticket. I'm not sure if its the company's policy or if that's legally what they are required to do. Either way, the rule is unbreakable. So, we were assigned to the lunchtime "tray check". We checked each tray to ensure that the dietary needs were reflected in the entree (texture modified vs. regular), no listed allergens were present, foods were fortified if needed, and that each element on the tray was there (desserts, nutritional drinks, entree, side, veggie, etc). Basically what it boils down to is, if the guys working the tray line did their job correctly in the first place, there wouldn't be the need for tray check. So, we were finding all sorts of mistakes- this was missing, this was incorrect, this was supposed to be this flavor. Its not our job to go retrieve these items ourselves- we'd just get in the way of the line and cause a huge traffic jam. And then the person loading the trays into the tray carts loaded them backward, so we had to turn all the trays around so we could read the ticket. In short, all this took time, and for 99 trays, it took A LOT of extra time. We didn't realize *we* were slowing down the line to the point where there were trays lined up to be carted, but couldn't be until we finished checking the cart we were working on. So, a few of the guys were yelling at us rather rudely about holding them up. By a happy coincidence, it was time for us to go on lunch break anyway, so we just walked out. And of course told our preceptor about the behavior. She was pretty pissed. Bottom line: it wasn't our fault. If they hadn't made so many mistakes... well, you know. I wasn't hurt, I was pissed. So, we'll see how Tuesday goes. Gotta make sure to not mouth off back at them, which is my usual behavior.
Some random Meow Meow. I'm really just adding pictures to break up the monotony of the text. Ha!
Anywho, that same day my mom was released from detox. No one from my family could come pick her up, so she stayed with me. It was a nice little weekend for the two of us. I took her to Mission Bay to beat the heat and she loved just soaking in the water. We watched people walking their dogs (always a favorite pastime of mine!) and then went to dinner. My aunt came and picked her up yesterday. She was very happy to see my mom looking so good and in such better spirits. I was pretty happy, too. Unfortunately, that's partly why I'm so behind on homework! Yikes!
Chillin' at the bay
I'm still stressing about money, but who isn't these days? Donating plasma is helping with a little dab every week. My cooking class has been canceled three weekends in a row, which as you can imagine, is making my money situation pretty dire for now. I hope next weekend comes to fruition. I could really use the money, and for me teaching the class is a huge stress release. It's so fun and relaxing. I really need it. I wish I had time for a little part-time job, but I just got an email from the practicum program coordinator with a bunch of attachments- assignments, projects, etc, and I can see why they suggest you don't work and do this internship at the same time. It is very work intensive. Only 12 hours a week at the facility, but easily that amount or more doing assignments and readings and projects and whatever else each week. Plus, I'm taking two more classes on top of that. Plasma and my little cooking class are all I can fit in to my schedule, sadly. Also, some notary work and some seamstress work, but those come along so rarely for me. I am not good at marketing- at all- so I don't know how to advertise or sell my services. I don't have much money to do either, so word of mouth is all I can do at this point. I'll have to think on that one. Any suggestions ya'll have would be great. Several folks have mentioned teaching community adult cooking classes, and I think I'd love to do that... I just don't know where to look to do that to get started. If that made any sense!
Well, all in all, I'd say things are going lots better for me. They aren't perfect by any means, but I'll take it! Once things have sort of leveled out, I want to start back into a workout routine (I'm at my halfway point and maintaining, when I should be continuing in a downward fashion) and back into nutritious delicious foods. Work in progress, but definitely forward progress already.
Meow Meow does not like the backlog of homework
Laughing and smiling again- fun with a Hulk beanie
Saturday, September 01, 2012
... So far I'm doing okay with that. I'm still praying for things to get better. They certainly haven't gotten much worse, which I guess is acceptable.
My dad called me today to let me know he took my mom to the ER. She had been experiencing some pretty bad physical symptoms over the last few days, most likely from her liver being to taxed by the constant intake of alcohol. I haven't spoken to anyone "in the know" like a doctor, so that's really only speculation on my part. I can't imagine what else it would be, though. I suppose a trip to the ER is a step in the right direction, though. My dad has been constantly fighting with the insurance company and has figured at this point he isn't going to win this one. We (me, my dad, and my aunt) all feel pretty helpless at this point. It's a sad state of affairs when an insurance company made up of money-grubbing asshats, NOT doctors or mental health professionals, decides what's best for you. People say universal healthcare is socialist and would never work here... I know many an ex-pat Canadian and UK citizen that would beg to differ. They hate our healthcare system. If my mom were in one of those other countries, we wouldn't have to worry about $14,000-$17,000 out of pocket (who the HELL has that kind of money anyway?!?!) to get her the help she desperately needs. I'm off my soapbox now.We'll see what happens in the next few days/weeks. Hopefully some sort of favorable solution or outcome presents itself.
I technically started my practicum last week, although, sadly, I have nothing good to report on it. Wednesday was the first day. I was scheduled for 6 hours. I stayed 1 1/2. That same day, the head cook had to leave for a family emergency, which meant my preceptor had to take over kitchen duties. Therefore, no time to "train" my partner and I. We had decided if we didn't hear from our preceptor that we would show up for the next day (in case she was able to get someone to cover the head cook's position). Well, I didn't hear from her, so I got up at 5:15am, got on a bus at 6:10am, got on a trolley at 6:30ish, and was just about to board my last bus at 7am for the final 20 minute journey when I got a missed call saying I didn't need to come in because my preceptor was going to have to be in the kitchen again. My guess is she called when I didn't get reception- possibly in a tunnel or something- so, I couldn't get off the trolley and head back. So, I took the hour long journey back home. Seriously disappointed. Doubly so because I had a written assignment that involved interviewing my preceptor and turning it in. Not gonna happen now. Not off to a very good start! I go back on Tuesday at 8am. We'll see if this week fares better.
My grandmother is coming back from her 6 week vacation tonight. Unfortunately, she didn't leave me a check or anything for my rent, so it'll be late. Luckily, I spoke to my landlord-y person and she won't charge us the late fee for turning it in a day late. I hope. Unless I misunderstood, which has happened before with other things. Its stressing me out 'cuz not only do I not have rent money, I don't have bill money, bus fare, or money for a textbook for my class, or money for a set of scrubs so I can show up at practicum properly dressed! Hopefully starting the 6th of Sept. I can donate plasma. At least I'll have a tiny extra dab of money from that. Also, my cooking classes, which may not be weekly, but a few times a month, so I'll have a tiny dab of money from that, too. I wish money wasn't so necessary, ya know? It sucks to have to be so dependent on it for survival.
Well, I guess that's the long and short of things going on in my life.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A little more than a week ago (maybe two weeks ago?) I had a status update that was rather cryptic and down. I still feel very sad and upset. I thought a lot about whether I wanted to blog about it, how much I wanted to reveal, or if I would just talk to a few close Sparks about it that always offer their ear/shoulder to lean on. Because I couldn't decide, I let it go for a while. But, I need to get it out. So, here it goes...
As I'm sure is the case with many, many people, I come from a family with a pretty colorful background. In my case, I am the child of an alcohol/drug addict. When I was in the 8th grade (back in 1997 or 1998) my mom admitted herself to a rehab center and residential program for alcohol abuse and prescription pill abuse. I didn't quite understand what was going on with her, but I did know I had taken on the role of "mother" for a while at that point... making sure my brother's were fed and clothed and off to school in the mornings. Sometimes I'd forge my mom's signature on their, and my own, report cards or permission slips, etc. They started coming to me with their needs. I guess that's why as adults we're all still very close to each other. Anyway, my mom completed a week long detox, a 28 day residential program, and spent another week or two at a "halfway" or transitional type house.
In the period of time since, she's had a few relapses, but had the tools to "bounce back" so to speak and get back on track with her sobriety. She doesn't and hasn't abused any prescription medications. Her relapses were all alcohol related. Well, about a year ago she started drinking again. She has bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. The medications her moron shrinks give her don't help. She says she tells them that, but they don't seem to listen. Finally, her anxiety level got to the point where she couldn't "deal" anymore, so my idiot father- who has never really seemed to understand alcoholism- told her to have a glass of wine to calm herself down. He said he'd "monitor" her to make sure she didn't overdo it. Less than a month later, he had moved in with my grandma to care for her full-time as she approaches very slowly the end of her life.
Mom got back into the habit of drinking regularly, now unmonitored (like that would have helped anyway) and has since just continued to get worse and worse. I don't live there and only see my family a few times out of the year. Back in February I had a suspicion she was drinking, but never saw any evidence to prove it. When she was here while I recovered from surgery I didn't notice anything either. She said she wasn't very bad when she was here, but that when she got back home she just spiraled downward... with a rapidness. One of my brothers knew, the other one was highly suspicious. Neither knew what to do about it.
Well, this last visit home there would have been no hiding it, so mom came out and told me the day before I was to leave. She then asked me for help in getting sober again. Now, how I've managed to become the one that she so much depends on, I'll never know. So, I called her insurance and I called a local rehab facility (the one she went to last time) to get the ball rolling. That's where things get muddled and f***tastic.
On Friday when I spoke to the insurance company, I was told it would be covered, not to worry about copays or anything, we didn't need a referral from her shrinks or primary physician. I was like, super! The rehab facility didn't have any beds yet, so the following Monday I was to call back and see what we could do. I gave them mom's insurance info so they could get started on all that, too.
I get called on Monday by the rehab and lo and behold... everything I was told Friday was NOT true. Her insurance only covers detox. We need a referral from the primary physician. There is still no copay at least... whoopdeedoo. At that point, I had no idea what to do. I called my dad and he started trying to deal with the insurance company. I called my aunt. I spend the majority of my vacation trying to find a solution. Sure, mom can detox, but without a 28 day residential program to reinforce sober habits and teach her to apply these principles to her life, it won't do any good. What kind of lame a$$ insurance company only covers detox?! Luckily for that week my mom had a doctor's appt already lined up and I was able to discuss this with him. He agreed she needed to go, so he began to get the referral process going.
This situation still hasn't come to any sort of conclusion. I called my mom's doc today and they're waiting to hear back from the facility. My dad is super angry at the insurance company and is still looking for some solution. The residential program is $14,000 out of pocket. Not what I'd call affordable. Meanwhile, my mom can't go cold turkey otherwise she risks seizures or heart attack if she quits. She's unable to taper off.
My problem with all this is that I feel like a cold-hearted b*tch about it. I have no sympathy, no empathy, no emotions at all about it (other than stress and a little bit of fear that she's drinking herself to death). When she would talk to me and cry about how she was feeling and how she wanted help, I was stone-cold. Hell, I think it's safe to say part of my is angry. At her for letting herself do this again, for putting my brother's through this situation, at my dad for encouraging it like a dumba$$, at the insurance company for being stupid enough to only cover detox, at the rehab facility for being so outrageously expensive! And I'm tired of it. I want it to be resolved. I want my mom to go to detox at the very least and be done with that part. I'm all business about it. I have my own problems to deal with at the moment, but she's so crippled by her disorders and the alcohol, she has to have someone holding her hand through it all. I guess I'm the only one she trusts for that.
Meanwhile, my life has to move forward. The victory of being reassigned to a facility closer to home was short lived. About a week after I was reassigned, I got an email saying the facility is backing out of the program this semester. They have a brand-new dietitian and some remodeling going on... so, it would have been too overwhelming to have an intern there. So, unfortunately, I've been reassigned to a facility that will take me a bit more than an hour to get to. It'll take 2 buses and the trolley to get there. In reality, it isn't as bad as it sounds, since the trolley is pretty quick at least. It was the closest facility that they could get me in to at the last minute. Once again, not having a car is really getting old.
And today I tried to crash a basic chemistry class. I was technically on the waitlist- #7 for the lecture portion and #4 for the lab portion. I would have had a guaranteed spot in the lecture as long as I was able to get into the lab. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I wasn't able to get into the lab. So, no chem for me. Sadly, this is the last class I need to complete my AS in Nutrition. I should be more sad about it than I am. I feel like I maybe dodged a bullet. The practicum I'll be doing is supposed to be as much work as a full time job (11 hours each week at the facility and TRUCKLOADS of homework assignments and paperwork outside the facility). Its recommended that you don't take other classes or work while completing your practicum because it's so time consuming. I was and still am going to ignore that advice and take classes, too. BUT, chem was going to be massive amounts of work, too! 3 hour lab weekly, 3 hours lecture weekly, and ridiculous amounts of homework! Whole chapters to read each week and anywhere from 10-40 homework questions each week. 4 tests, 4 pretests, 1 cumulative final. The instructor is old... way old... so he speaks fairly softly and the classroom is right next to construction (new building going up) so I had the hardest time hearing him. I couldn't deal with that for an entire semester. To me it sounds like way more work than I could handle. Either practicum or chemistry would have suffered. Not cool. I am taking an online class, Cultural Foods, as part of the nutrition department. It's just for "funsies". Luckily it's online, so it's basically up to my schedule. I'm considering taking an algebra refresher course online, too. It'll only be 5 weeks later in the semester, but in order for me to do chem in the future, I do need to do some algebra. And for me, it's been quite a while since I've taken that.
I'm not entirely happy with how things are going in my life. I'm so stressed out. I am dealing as best I can, but man... something's got to give. I'm not sleeping and when I am, I'm back on that dumb cycle of vivid dreams, so I wake up feeling just as tired as ever. I'm eating okay. I'm too broke to eat out all the time, so I'm cooking a lot at home. I made a German potato salad and it was pretty good. Never done that before. I still have my cooking classes... hopefully I'll get some other people interested to come learn. The gals are still wanting to learn and pay me for it, so I'll do it as long as I can. I'm also going to look into donating plasma. Since I won't have time for an actual job (not that I can find one anyway), but I still got bills to pay, I'm going to try for that. At this point, any little bit would help. I could get up to $55 a week in plasma donations, so I'll try to work it around my practicum schedule. At least I could do homework while they drain me.
That's my life in a nutshell. *raspberry noise*
Oh... here's a picture of my brother's kitty. He still loves me and never leaves my side when I visit.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
My roommate has a few friends that are, erm... "underskilled" in the kitchen. He told them I'm pretty handy with the cooking and skillz myself and set up a "class" so to speak.
The first thing they really wanted to learn was knife skills. So, I designed a beginners class for them. I went through the different types of knives, what each blade is designed to do, how to pick a knife for yourself, how to care for your knife, etc. Then, I had them practice what they learned by cutting up vegetables for a mirepoix to make chicken noodle soup from scratch.
The best part of all this: they are willing to pay me to teach them- kinda like a group private chef dealie. So, I charge them for my time and supplies, and they get to learn and I get to have fun teaching! I think it's another great way for me to practice my nutritionist stuff and cooking stuff until I get into a Master's program. And it gets me a little bit more income, which as ya'll pretty much know from my latest blogs, I desperately need.
So far it's every Sunday (except this coming one, as I'll be out of town) and I'm letting them choose the class subject (I don't want to teach them something they don't want to know). However, if you're in the San Diego area, are free from 6-8pm on Sundays, my "class" is open to you as well! The more the merrier. I'd love to have more people learn to cook healthy, easy meals. Just private message me for more details (what I charge, for example).
If you'd like to read more about the knife skills class, please visit my other blog at:
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Well, I've got some updates on my financial situation(s). Some good, some... not. Most of it remains unchanged. However, I finally was able to track down some Lost & Found info for the convention center and I shot out an email to the department. Well, wouldn't you know it, my license was in their possession! So, they were able to mail it back to me easy peasy. That's $26 still in my pocket... well... I don't have $26 at the moment, but you know what I mean. Funny thing is, when I got my license back and checked to see if it was damaged any further I noticed it expires on my next birthday anyway... in about 4 months. DANGIT! Hahaha, oh well! Maybe I'll go in and get a new pic and everything. My face is pretty round in the pic. My current face has slimmed down significantly.
That's pretty much the only financial fun that's changed. I'm still going to be mega broke. I'm half considering walking around the corner and getting a job at Jack in the Box, just until school starts... So, I'd at least have a little bit of money coming in to pay medical and dental bills.
Speaking of school starting, what was supposed to be an exciting and fun prospect for the upcoming semester has made a slight turn for the worst. All my paperwork for my practicum is complete and turned in, well within the deadline, and I received my assigned nursing home. It wasn't my first choice. Probably not my second, either. In fact, I'm not sure I wrote it down at all on my list of preferred places. It's about 20 miles away from where I currently live, in Carlsbad. Wouldn't be so bad, except that I DON'T OWN A CAR! I've been doing some research on how to get there via public transportation. The news is very not good. I would have to be on the first bus of the day (in my area) at 6am. It'll take 4 buses and almost 4 hours to get me to the nursing home. Which means I won't ever be able to make it there until 10am. Which is probably not a good thing, as I'm sure my "shifts" would be most likely to start at 8am (if not earlier). So, then I looked at taxi rates. To go that far it would cost me $120 a day, round trip, in taxi fare. I'm really at a loss. I have 3 weeks to figure out what I'm going to do about this. I can email my teacher and ask if there's an assignment closer to me, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim. We were told up front that there was a chance we wouldn't be accommodated with our first or even second choices... which is why we were to write down 3 of them. And, in order for me to be re-assigned, that means someone else or several someone elses would have to be reassigned, also. *sigh*
On the lighter news front, I've inadvertently adopted a stray cat that I found wandering through my yard about a month ago. I've wanted a cat for so long, and would have gone to adopt one at a shelter anyway, so this has worked out. She appears to be in very good health and remarkably clean. I went ahead and got some flea drops for her anyway. When we've built up enough trust, we'll take her in to the vet for a check-up and whatnot. (Also, when we save up some money.) Anyway, she's a sweetheart. We named her Meow Meow, after the mispronunciation of Thor's hammer Mjölnir in the movie Thor. It's a funny, lighthearted joke, so we went with it. The other choice for her name was Lt. Shineysides.
Meow Meow takes a nap
I've been seeing this go around the Spark webs lately. So, I checked it out myself. I still have no idea what it really means. How am I like a woman from Barbados?! What is that supposed to tell me, exactly? Anyway, it was sorta interesting... I guess.
To find out for yourself, and maybe you can figure it out, go to:
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