I haven’t written a post in 14 months, so I was going to make a joke about still being alive, but that’s not funny during a pandemic, is it? However, I am alive, grateful to be so, and fully vaxxed and boosted so I can continue my 15,040-day living streak. Here’s a round-up of the year’s highlights, because I am for-real getting old now and need to write things down or I will forget them.
When I turned 40 last year, I was bummed that it put me in a more deadly COVID-19 cohort. Instead, my advanced age was good for my mortality because it made me eligible to get my shot two weeks earlier than if I’d been born five months later. I had to wait for the 40-45-year-olds window to open up at 8am on March 22 to schedule an appointment and I was on top of that game like a bot scooping up Taylor Swift tickets. As of May 12, 2021, I was fully vaxxed! Yay!
I still think Indiana should have let obese people jump the line instead of focusing mostly on age groups, but if they’d done that more than a third of the state would have been eligible at once. No, that’s not a joke. We’re number 5! (Thank goodness for Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana!) However, we’re also ranked 43rd in total vaccination rates, so I guess demand wasn’t that high after all.
I found great joy crossing off items on my “Post-Vaccination To-Do list” which, yes, I really did write out on an orange index card.
I visited a dentist for the first time in two years and miraculously had no cavities. (Flossing daily works, y’all!) I switched to Verizon because Sprint got bought by T-Mobile who kept dropping my calls like it was the 90’s. I got the skid plate on my car reattached. And I finally got a haircut after 22 months. Yes, I did look like a cave woman!
The best moment was hugging my mom after 14 months of “air hugs” where we’d make hugging gestures from across the room like we were auditioning for mime school. The second best thing was no more 8am grocery store trips. I’d been going every two weeks at the least busy time, but the disruption to my sleep routine would trigger my headache and make me useless for the rest of the day. I also don’t miss the time it took to arrange my grocery list by aisle so I could swoop in and out as soon as possible. Ultimately though, making the grocery store a dangerous place to visit was one of the best things to happen to me since it basically forced me into food rehab, so I can’t be all that bitter about it.
When you turn 40, the warranty on your body expires
As soon as my inner odometer rolled over to forty, everything started to break. There were minor things, like varicose veins rising on my legs and my left thumb occasionally locking up. I’m also becoming far-sighted, so anything closer than eight inches from my face is blurry now, which is hilarious because before I got LASIK anything farther away from my face than eight inches was blurry. My field of vision has completely inverted!
My hair is thinning, which no one warned me it was going to do! And it looks gray in some photos depending on the lighting and what I’m wearing. I still have far more brown hairs than white ones, but they are slowly getting turned, like zombies. It’s Night of the Living Dead in my scalp, y’all.
Then there were more serious issues like the time I threw my back out, collapsed on the kitchen floor, and realized we shouldn’t have been laughing at the lady in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ads back in the 90’s. That was serious! I’m so sorry, Mrs. Fletcher!
I managed to slide my way across the kitchen linoleum, take a hard left through the bathroom, and then drag myself across the bedroom carpet until I reached my cell phone. I called my Mom who unlocked the door so the firemen could get me up, which took them all of 30 seconds. Thank you, fire department! I feel like I really got my tax money’s worth this year!
I then stared at the ceiling in my bedroom for four days because I for-real couldn’t get up. I even launched a web site from bed, which sounds like a fun way to do your job, but was just nerve-wracking because so many things could have gone wrong.
No more mini-marathons
The worst health news this year involved the intermittent knee pain I’d developed in October 2020, but had tolerated for seven months as I remained locked down in my hovel in fear of other people’s respiratory particles. When I finally went to the doctor in May, I was hoping she’d tell me it was runner’s knee since I’d started walking regularly after the pandemic hit. But nope, I have osteoarthritis! No, you don’t usually get that when you’re 39 and 11 months old. Yes, I think the chronic obesity had something to do with it.
Basically, the cartilage in my knees is wearing down and it doesn’t grow back. This is REALLY, REALLY, painful! The only worse pain I’ve experienced is my nine-hour gallbladder attack. There were nights in October and November when I took some tramadol leftover from a root canal so I could get to sleep.
I saw a physical therapist (though I never saw the bottom of her face) and she showed me exercises to strengthen my leg muscles to better support my knee. I haven’t had pain lately, but I’m also not walking as much as I was in 2020. Either way, my running days are over, under medical orders, which makes me a bit sad. I’m glad I completed the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon back in 2008, because that sure as hell isn’t happening again.
Java Bean is fine, but we thought he had cancer!
Visiting the vet during a pandemic sucks in general because you have to wait in the parking lot while they exam your pet inside, but I doubt it gets much worse than learning over the phone that your cat might have jaw cancer and then sobbing in your car next to three other parked people who can most definitely see you through their windshields. Thankfully, they were all distracted by their phones or pretended to be and kept any possible COVID particles in their cars instead of trying to comfort me.
In July, Java Bean had some loose teeth that had to be pulled during his dental cleaning, and the x-ray revealed what looked like cancer. During the ten days it took to get the biopsy back, I gave Java Bean as many treats as he wanted, fed him the non-diet cat food he prefers, and bought a little memorial kit to make clay imprints of his paws. I’d even selected the photo I was going to put next to it and done my best to smudge out my rosacea in PhotoShop:
Then the vet called and told me Java Bean has 18 lives instead of 9 because it wasn’t cancer after all! In the 20 years he’s been practicing, this was the first time an x-ray like that hadn’t been cancer. It was reactive bone growth which can be caused by an infection, trauma to the jaw, or also cancer, but Java Bean is still breathing and nagging me for dinner as I write this in December, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have cancer. Yay! (I also had to put him back on the prescription cat food, which he was less than thrilled about.)
Social media: Well, that was a horrible 14-year experiment!
Do you remember what is was like when social media was new and it was fun to find old high school friends on Facebook and watch William Shatner tweet at astronauts on the international space station? Then suddenly the Russians were using it to manipulate our elections and the Facebook algorithm promoted viral posts about virus misinformation that have probably killed tens of thousands of people. Like, damn, it went from high school reunion to mass-casualty event really quickly.
Social media was an interesting 14-year experiment, but I’ve decided it’s over now. The results: social media is awful! It does bad things to our brains and our self-esteem! Doom scrolling is bad for your mental health and doesn’t make anything better! Any positive effects are far outweighed by the bad. I am not going to swim through a river of shit to eat a delicious Krispy Kreme donut on the other side. It’s not worth it.
I’ve been slowly withdrawing from social media since December 2017 when I first removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, and this year I can say I’m 90% off it entirely. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to 100% since I still wish people Happy Birthday on Facebook and tweets are sometimes embedded in newspaper articles. I can’t seem to totally kick the habit of complaining about things on Twitter either, even though I stopped reading my feed two years ago. And of course, I posted links to this blog entry there because I know most people abandoned feed readers years ago.
To supplement my scrolling urgers, I’ve started spending 2-3 hours a week perusing Instagram like it’s social media methadone. It’s the kindest of the social media networks because it’s also the fakest one. The weirdest thing is that at least 15% of the posts are screenshots of tweets (but only the funny and nice ones), as if all the social media networks have started bleeding into each other.
Overall, this has been great for my mental health. I no longer get stressed out by whatever terrible things people are tweeting about that day. It’s a bummer that I don’t know as much about what’s going on with my friends and family, but if my friends insist on hanging out in the smoker’s lounge, I’m not meeting them there. Maybe we should all go back to blogging?
Closing another year on COVID
As the year comes to a close, the Omicron variant is eating its way through the country and slamming the healthcare system, which is depressing because I thought the worst of it had hit the hospitals last year, but no, right now appears to be the worst of it for our medical professionals. Please, please, please don’t let 2022 prove me wrong on this.
Only 8.9% of Indiana’s ICU beds are available right now, and it’s disconcerting to know that the hospital that accepts my health insurance is on diversion and my plan has no out-of-network coverage, which means if I trip over another space heater, I would be lucky to get treated at all, and I would probably end up at a place where I would be paying 100% of the bills myself, which would mean bankruptcy. Literal bankruptcy, where you have to find an attorney and file papers. Thanks, Amuricah! Maybe we should rethink this whole Capitalism thing? Like social media, it was an interesting experiment, but there must be a better way to structure society. I don’t know exactly how, but I’m open to suggestions.
That other thing
As such, I’m trying to stay healthy and accident free until the anti-vaxxers work their way out of the system and open up beds for the rest of us. The pandemic has put my health into prominent focus more than any other event in my life. When we first went into lockdown, I realized that if I got infected, obesity wasn’t going to kill me 20 years from now, it was going to kill me 20 days from now. I have obliquely referenced my weight in certain places, but to put it transparently, I’ve lost 105 pounds since the pandemic began. (The fact that I’m comfortable posting pictures of myself again should have been the clear giveaway.)
I’ve been hesitant to talk about it because I specifically left my PastaQueen site behind because I don’t want my online identity to be focused around weight anymore. I don’t want to reverse that position, but it seems weird not to mention it at all. It’s been different losing over a hundred pounds the second time than it was the first time, particularly because I felt stuck for so long and began to doubt it would ever happen. If people want me to write about this in more depth, let me know and I’ll consider it, since it’s an angle of weight loss I haven’t tackled before. That said, maybe no one cares about my ass any more, Half-Assed or not!
Here’s to 2022!
Good luck to everybody as we tackle 2022 together! I will try to blog more than once a year next time, so keep your feed readers open and for God’s sake, stop using Facebook!