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Succubus Heat
Yay! Today is Succubus Heat's release day. Many thanks to everyone who's picked it up and been telling me about it! I really appreciate it and hope you guys like it. Georgina's life is not an easy one! Thanks also to my peeps who are spreading the good word.

Today was a day of many tasks for me. It started off with a trip to the vet for my poor cat Morganna. She and Katie had gone in a couple weeks ago for routine check-ups and teeth cleaning. At the same time, Morganna had a weird bump that had to be cut off. They had to shave half her neck to get to it, and it was both funny and sad to see. After some wild wrangling, I took her back to the vet today to get stitches removed and learned the bump was a type of tumor that could have been cancerous! Yikes. Fortunately, it's all removed, so Morganna is happy and well. Aside from, yanno, missing part of her fur. I don't think she knows it's gone, though. Don't tell. lolcatz doesn't even think I should post pics, for the sake of her dignity.

After that, it was off to my human doctor because my stomach's been bothering me. She asked me a bunch of questions, my favorite being "Have you traveled recently?" I rattled off the cities I'd been to in a 2-week span, but I guess she didn't consider Orlando and the West Coast in Third World Country territory. Mistake? Unclear. Nonetheless, she sent me across the street to get an X-Ray, something I didn't even know could be done on your stomach without swallowing something horrible first.

Let me tell you about these radiology people. They share an office and desk with a lab that does bloodwork. But, oh man, do not go to the wrong side of the desk. They're all quite huffy about it and will not check in the other's patients, despite having the same computer system. The radiology people were naturally backed up, and the bloodwork people were all reading books. I think the backup was due to how painstakingly slow the check-in was. Considering my college job was in a health clinic, I really wanted to jump behind the desk and assist. Having COBRA insurance didn't help matters any, and I'll be amazed if that's billed correctly. Finally, I got called back and was greeted by two X-Ray techs in street clothes, not scrubs. They were nice enough, and I took it on faith that they were reputable since they seemed to know how to operate the machine...though they didn't give me lead covers for the parts not being X-Rayed, which was surprising.

As an aside: guys may not know this, but when women go in for X-Rays, you get asked about 30 times if you're pregnant. This makes sense, seeing as you're being hit with radiation. Still, I can't help but shake my head since I'm pretty sure pregnant women were being zapped quite a bit back in the mid-20th century. I guess that's as good an explanation as any for Generation X (not a pun) and the grunge era.

Anyway, when I commented on my doctor writing "Read by 5pm" on my paperwork, one of the techs told me, "Yeah, don't count on it. Depends on the radiologist." Not entirely encouraging, but hey, so long as the pictures get to my primary doctor relatively soon, that's what counts.

My last errand of the day was to get my car's oil changed. That may not sound exciting, but the last time I got that done was...June 2008. I've honestly been expecting my poor Focus to fall apart into a heap of scrap metal any day now. I couldn't even bear to tell the oil change people how negligent I was. I took off the old sticker and hid it as I pulled into their lot and then told them I thought it had been "around six months ago." But you know what? The car was fine. Great, even. The oil people had no clue about the level of my bad car ownership because everything was in such good shape. Who knew? So, my Focus lives another day, and once again, procratination proves victorious.


I don't even play one on TV

It's not lupus!
Lately it seems like I'm taking a pill or two with every meal. I've slowly built up a pharmacopeia of prescriptions and supplements for all sorts of totally unrelated reasons. A multivitamin, per my family doctor's recommendation. An antibiotic from the eye doctor that's been shown to help dry eyes (still fighting that). Flax seed oil, fish oil, and Vitamin E to also help with the dry eyes. Vitamin E double-endorsed by the dermatologist. Vitamin C so I won't catch lolcatz 's cold. Vitamin D because my family doctor worries I don't get enough from the sun. And that list isn't even taking into consideration the "as-needed" prescriptions, like Xanax for flying and Lunesta or Ambien for insomnia. Yikes. I'm like one step away from being on Celebrity Rehab. No, just kidding.

The funny thing here is that every single one of these pills is safe in and of themselves (no, no, let's not debate the sleeping pills...not today, at least!) and is prescribed/endorsed by a real doctor. But there's kind of a left-hand-right-hand thing going on since all the stuff I have has been assigned between, oh, five? different doctors who aren't always up to speed on what the others are doing, even when I write it down for them. My pharmacy cross-checks all new prescriptions against all old ones, so they're theoretically on guard for interactions. They don't track the vitamins, though, and I think it's kind of funny that doctors are all of a sudden prescribing me more of them, along with stuff like the flax seed oil. I've always been one of those people who's wary of "natural" remedies, not because they're natural but because they're not regulated and often operate on your body chemically the same way a lot of prescription drugs do. A lot of natural remedies are fantastic (as my eyes have seen--no pun intended), but vitamins and herbs aren't some magical entity composed of fairy dust. Everything we consume is a chemical of some sort at the end of the day.

Anyway, I'm not really worried about becoming addicted to anything, ODing on Vitamin C, or helping to create the Super Bug by taking antibiotics (though maybe I should be). I'm not really worried about any one of these individual things I take. You see, what I'm worried about is being one of those patients on House. People who watch that show know what I'm talking about. I'm worried some day I'll come down with some crazy ailment no one can diagnose, and they'll go through all my bottles and be like, "Well, none of these can cause it", then they'll realize that it was some one-in-a-million chance of the Vitamin D binding with the fish oil, which then ate my stomach lining, opening the way for a folic acid overdose, which was then all catalyzed by my eye drops. Or something like that. Unlike House, however, I hope they wouldn't almost kill me five times before finally curing me.

In closing, I've got to add one other thing. I respect everyone's religious and political beliefs, so I never bring that up around here. What I don't consider sacred are other people's medical beliefs (at least when they're ridiculous). What I mean by that is that there are an alarming amount of people on the internet dispensing medical advice who have no business doing so--particularly in regard to prescriptions. Whenever I research a medication, I inevitably find posts of things like: "Well, Percocet's in the opiate family, so if you take it, you're taking heroin." Whoa, slow down, friend. Another one I like is when people swear certain things cause completely absurd symptoms: "This will create holes all over your heart." And finally, there are the people who know people: "This guy my brother's neighbor works with took that, and he got rashes and went crazy."

What's sad is that a lot of people then buy into this stuff and spread it around. It drives me crazy. People who have taken certain prescriptions have valuable advice, and I've really appreciated the comments I get around here about certain medical things, like the insomnia. It's good background to know. But people who know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who took something probably shouldn't be dispensing medical advice. Really, when it comes down to it, all these questions are best answered by one's doctor, and I cringe to think how many people are diagnosing/medicating themselves via Yahoo Answers. AHH. Just typing that makes me irate.

So, that's my rant today. I hope it doesn't sound preachy, and like I said, I always love the input you guys give around here. That's totally different from the absurdity I find in forums sometimes. I just hate when ignorance is spread around as truth and hope that everyone can tell the difference. Glean what good info you can from the web, but rely on your doctor for the decisions. Use the internet for what it was intended: LOLcats and Facebook.


Comic Georgina
So, I think it's pretty established around here that I have some wicked insomnia. I've had it my whole life, and it's gone up and down in varying degrees. A couple weeks ago, I had a particularly bad spell. Even Benadryl--which I sometimes use as a cheat to get me sleepy--wasn't working. Things grew so bad that I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night and would end up watching the alarm clock a lot--and that's presuming I stayed in bed. Sometimes I'd just get up for a while. One night, I watched three episodes of MTV's From Gs to Gents until 5am. Man, that was a low point.

So, I finally decided to see a doctor. While he could agree that I do have insomnia in the genes, he also felt it was the stress in my life keeping me up. He recommended some relaxation techniques like massage and--much to my shock--acupuncture. I appreciated those tips, but by that point, I'd had such a horrible week of sleeping that it was affecting my work. So, I told my doctor that what I wanted in the short term was just a few solid nights of heavy sleep--i.e., something stronger than Benadryl--and then I'd work on long-term solutions. After discussing assorted drugs, he finally sent me off with a prescription for Ambien. Now, I'd never heard of it, but it's a sedative, which was all I needed to know. Or so I thought.

At the pharmacy, I had a standard new prescription discussion:

Pharmacist: Have you taken this before?
Me: No.
Pharmacist: Okay, well, it kicks in really fast, so don't expect to do anything else once you take it.
Me: Okay.
Pharmacist: And it lasts 7-8 hours, so it's not for naps.
Me: Okay. That's good, actually. Are there any side effects?
Pharmacist: Well...in some rare cases--really rare--people have gotten up in their sleep.
Me: Like sleepwalking?
Pharmacist: Yeah. And they do stuff, like, go to the refrigerator and eat.
Me: Okay.
Pharmacist: And sometimes they get in their cars and drive.
Me: Oka--wait, what?

Yes, that's right, apparently "in rare cases," people who take Ambien get up in their sleep and do wacky stuff. Who knew? Well...probably you did because everyone else in the world except for me has long since heard of this stuff. Every time I start to tell this story, I get to the "My doctor prescribed me Ambien" part, and immediately, the response is: "Oh, yeah, the one that people drive in their sleep with?"

It's crazy. This article in the New York Times explains these rare cases in which people have indeed been found sleepwalking and getting in car accidents from driving in their sleep! There have also been people who apparently went into fits of rage on Ambien. Most of these incidents occurred with people who drank beforehand--but not always. And in one case, a woman didn't drink--but then she got up after the Ambien and sleepwalked into the kitchen to get wine!

Since Ambien is one of the most prescribed sleeping aids in the country, it stands to reason that these incidents really and truly are rare. If this drug really was causing widespread chaos, the FDA would have pulled it. Still...this is exactly the kind of thing that sets my phobias rollin'. When I was little, my dad found me sleepwalking twice, and even then, I was freaked out at the idea of doing stuff...yet not knowing I was doing it. Now, in adulthood, I don't have my dad in the other room to steer me back to bed. Instead, I keep seeing myself walking off the balcony or something. Maybe even into that spider that lives on the patio door.

So, no Ambien for me. The prescription sits here on my desk, unopened. Maybe if it comes down to that or From Gs to Gents again, I'll roll the dice and take the pill. In the meantime, I've fallen back on old tactics. I find the most successful one is to simply stay awake until exhaustion hits me. This works, but it pretty much destroys any pretense of a normal schedule and keeps me up later and later each night. In fact, I think my body has a 26-hour Circadian rhythm or something. Regardless, while I'm still not getting great rest, I'm now getting good rest, and the closest I'm coming to driving-while-sleeping is if I have to be anywhere before noon. But that's how it's always been.


Richelle vs. Teeth

SB Icon
I've said before that nothing good ever comes from getting up early. Today I was proven right yet again when I rolled out of bed at 8:45am--5 hours after I'd gone to sleep--and drove downtown to see an endodontist about the tooth that was bugging me back in October. I was pleasantly surprised to see how close I really live to downtown. Even with traffic and that distracting glowing orb in the sky I'm usually not up early enough to see, it barely took 10 minutes to get there. It took another 20 to figure out how to get into the building, but that's another story.

Anyway, they poked and prodded and did cold tests like my regular dentist had. After a bit of this, the endodontist sat back and was like, "We'll, this is going to need root canal treatment." And before the "What?" could even form on my lips, she added, "We can do that right now." To say that was unexpected would be an understatement. I'd known the root canal was a possibility, but I didn't think they did them on the fly like that. I panicked--like almost broke down in tears panicked--and started rambling about if they were sure and how maybe I was just grinding my teeth again and would it hurt and what the hell did a root canal entail anyway. The endodontist, her assistant, and--God help me--their trainee all stared at me like I was a crazy woman. That wouldn't have happened at my regular dentist's office. My regular dentist would have never turned around and said "Let's do a root canal." My regular dentist (whom I love) knows I hate dental work. They treat me like I'm 12-years old and always break things to me gently and with lots of anesthetic.

But, we were in downtown Seattle now, not the suburbs. And on the mean streets of endodontics, they give you tough love and anesthetic shots without any topical for your gum. I actually took that without complaint (despite an urge to say "That's now how my mommy--I mean, regular dentist does it!"), earning their admiration. They told me I was tougher than I thought. I assured them I wasn't, so they slapped some nitrous oxide on me.

I've never had nitrous before. My regular dentist usually skips straight to Halcion or IVs. Man, what have I been missing? Nitrous is good stuff. As someone who's perpetually high strung and jittery, I'm always enchanted by substances that chill me out and/or make me sleepy. (Don't worry--my hypochondria prevents me from abusing them or even taking them without a doctor's authorization). Nitrous delivered, I floated in a happy place, and the whole thing was over before I knew it. While under the influence, I experienced the following stream of consciousness:

Root canals are crazy. They're, like, pulling the nerves out of my tooth so it won't hurt. That's kind of major and invasive--seems like I'll be feeling the effects of that later. Oh my God. No I won't. It won't hurt because there are no nerves left. Whoa. I have to blog about that. I wonder if this would be as profound without the N2O. Is that Mariah Carey on the radio?

I left the office, looking like a stroke victim, but that's normal for dental work. And hey, dental visits aren't without their perks. Remember how when you were little, they used to send you home with lollipops for good behavior? My good behavior earned me a prescription for Percocet. Maybe it pays to get up early after all.


Getting back to my roots

Wine Glass
These are never good words to hear at the dentist's office:

"It's not entirely clear yet if you need a root canal."

Wai--what? Who said anything about a root canal?

Two days ago, my back two teeth were killing me. The kind of zinging that makes you flinch when you drink cold water, chew, or well, do nothing at all. It was a little better yesterday, but I called the dentists office anyway, and since I see the best dentists in the universe, they told me to come in today.

After administering all sorts of tests to see what was going on with my teeth, the cute girl dentist in the office said the results were inconclusive. At the very least, she decided, I should eventually get a crown on the problem tooth. Not just any crown either. A GOLD CROWN. Apparently, my tenuous finances aren't being stressed enough. And I guess my street cred needs some boosting. But due to some other stuff going on with my tooth, she thinks I might also need a root canal. To be safe, she's sending me to a "root canal specialist" for a second opinion. She was originally going to send me to "the best root canal specialist in Seattle" until we discovered he doesn't sedate patients when he performs root canals.

Dude. Am I crazy? Aren't root canals supposed to be the most painful procedure ever? They're the #1 metaphor for unpleasant situations. Even the dentist's assistant was surprised to hear about Mr. Big Shot Root Canal Guy's practices. "Whoa," she said. "That's hardcore." Fortunately, they decided to send me somewhere else. Considering how much better the tooth is today, I'm hoping they decide it's nothing worth canaling or crowning. I grind my teeth during times of stress, which can cause pain, so maybe it'll all go away once the move is settled.

And speaking of the move, this is my last night in Olympia, and this weekend, my poor friends will be hauling furniture up two flights of stairs for me. I love them. The friends, that is. Not the furniture or the flights of stairs.


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I have red hair and subsist entirely on Kona coffee.

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