December 30, 2005

Space-Time Continuum

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 6:04 am

What part of quantum theory do you not understand? That’s on a T-Shirt Grace, the artist, gave me for Christmas. Then Judith (Eternity II) sent me that link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Then I stumbled across Pete Townshend’s blog (The Boy Who Heard Music) where he’s serializing a sci-fi novella. Obviously, the Universe is speaking to me. 🙂 I’m putting that little smiley there just in case someone, having read my previous posts about my psychiatric hospitalizations, thought I was serious. 🙂 I’m not that far gone yet. 🙂 (Hey, can you guys tell I’m the daughter of a paranoid?) 🙂 🙂

But seriously, folks, I just love that whole space-time continuum thingy, don’t you? Tomcat says it just keeps everything, you know, kind of, together. My Dad took my brother and I out into the yard at night to talk about space and its vast distances and the immense age of the starlight we were seeing. As I posted before, my brother was inspired to become a scientist. I suppose that’s where I got my interest in astrology. And in some sci-fi. Many science fiction fans are just that -fanatics. They collect metric buttloads of the stuff, reading just about anything that comes out. I prefer to think of myself as a connoisseur. 🙂 The Dune books, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God, Arthur C. Clarke.

This isn’t exactly the Nicene Creed, but here’s what I believe, based on the (shaky) assumption that the human race doesn’t destroy itself first: We will discover how to travel faster than light. I believe we already do this with our minds. 🙂 We will discover how to travel in time. I believe we already do this with our minds. 🙂 We may not be consciously aware of this, but I believe some adepts do this routinely. I believe we have been discovered by other civilizations.

Uh-oh. Not another UFO nut. 🙂

Think about it. Probably most people have a reasonable grasp by now, in the early stages of our Space Age, of the immensity of space. It’s big. But have you ever thought of how old the Universe is? It’s old. Lookit, someone calculated that if you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with salt, each grain of salt could represent a galaxy in the Universe. That’s galaxy, not stars. Each galaxy contains (approximately) a buhzillion stars. That takes up a lot of space. Those stars (about a fafillion or so) are orbited by planets and their moons. Of those planets and moons, approximately a popillian can sustain life. (Don’t get me started on whether it’s intelligent life, because we’re still working on that right here.) All of this is true today.

All of this was also true a million years ago, and a billion years ago before that, and a gazillion years ago before that. Just think of how many solar systems containing life have come and gone, long gone, in those spans of time. A whole bunch. Probably some of them advanced to their own Space Age (their scientists would have had Dads who took them out in the yard at night to look at the stars).

Over the eons there could have been kaboodles of space-faring civilizations per epoch. Heck, there could have been whole scads of them. Maybe gobs of them thought it would be fun to see if there were any other planets like theirs (they would have had salt-filled Olympic-sized swimming pools, too, probably.) So now we’ve narrowed it down to gobs of advanced space-faring, waterworld-seeking civilizations per epoch times a buhzillion galaxies over the span of piles of epochs.

Whew. That could mean that tons of space-faring cartographers or uninhabited probes could have been sent out to map solar systems, galaxies, and nearby galaxies over the last gundazillion years. I believe our own little planet could have been catalogued by long-ago civilizations oh, at least a dozen times by now. Perhaps even explored.

So yeah, another UFO nut. 🙂

Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves first, I believe we will eventually send out our own explorers to find other life-sustaining planets and moons. Hopefully we won’t then start destroying them.

Those of you my age will remember the bright promises of the new Space Age. We were gonna have all kinds of neat stuff. Hey, where’s my jet pack? My car that rides through the air? My paperless office? Well, all the money that could have been spent on the neat stuff was used for other things, like the Cold War and the wars that followed. Where’s your jet pack? In Vietnam. And so it went, and so it goes today. Damn it. We’re gonna screw up this space-time continuum thingy for sure.

Have a nice day. 🙂


December 28, 2005

What Kind of Message Does This Give Our Children?

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 12:39 pm

I know I mentioned this on my old blog around this time last year, but it bears repeating. People: when your inflatable Santa deflates, REMOVE IT from your front yard! Otherwise, it looks like Santa’s dead drunk on the lawn again. For the love of God, the wellbeing of our children is at stake here!

My Brother, The Samurai Star Warrior

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 8:45 am

My new friend Judith, who is Grace, the artist’s, sister-in-law, and who has the blog entitled “Eternity II” on my blogroll, sent me a link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (see my Links). Every day, you get to see a new picture of some awesome space vista. How cool is that?

The site got me thinking about my late brother, David. He was inspired to be a scientist by my father, not because Dad was a scientist, but because Dad would take us kids out to the yard at night to look at the stars. Dad would tell us about the vast distances between planets and the sun, and the immense age of the starlights we were seeing (he had to explain “lightyears” first.)

David was a genius who built a laser in the physics department of his undergraduate school back when almost no one had even heard the word “laser.” He had his pick of graduate schools and chose one that had a rep for hot chicks (I did mention he was smart, right?). He found the one hot chick on the planet who could live with him. She was as strong-willed as he was and very close to his intellectual equal.

My brother went on to become a physicist specializing in laser optics. He was a weapons consultant to the government, in other words, a Star Warrior. That was his day job. He also excelled in martial arts and had his own school where he taught bushido, Japanese sword fighting.

In his later years he was thinking about going back to school to get his Ph.D. — not because he needed one for his job, but because he had never gotten around to doing that due to the demand for people of his expertise during the Cold War. His wife said he had finally decided to get his Ph.D. in astronomy because that was the “easiest.” But, it was not to be. He had a quadruple heart bypass at age 40 and died at 49. Whenever I see pictures like the ones on Astronomy Picture of the Day, I think of him and I am grateful to have known him. The main thing people said at his memorial service was that his star shone brightly.

Thank you, Judy, for sending me this link; I’ll enjoy it every day.

December 26, 2005

Part 2: Excellent Care

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 2:56 pm

(See 12/24 entry for Part 1)

As mentioned before, there were two surveys in the final day’s paperwork. The first was brief and it was about my mood and thoughts in general. It was one of those fill-in-the-circle-with-a-No. 2-pencil thingies. I hate those, don’t you? Anyway, this was a duplicate of the one they gave me to fill out on the first day. This way, they could compare the answers in the admission-day survey to the answers in the discharge-day survey. Unfortunately, I was too depressed to fill out the one on admission day.

The second was a satisfaction survey. How happy was I with the staff? Answer: Very! So much so that I had trouble answering one question: If I had to choose just one person that I thought was best overall, who would that be? So many people came to mind that I realized there was no way to choose one over another, and that’s how I finally answered the question.

I don’t recall ever having such a positive overall experience in a psychiatric hospital. I wish I could tell you the name of the hospital and the names of the staff! The care was excellent! The nurses, counselors, and aides were all, each and every one, caring, kind, loving, and competent.

You could tell they went out of their way to treat you with respect. This isn’t true in some hospitals, where the treatment philosophy resembles One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. No, there were no Nurse Ratchets here. Nor were there lines — remember the movie’s depiction of medication times? They had the patients all line up to take their meds while some insipid elevator music, meant to be soothing, played in the background. Here, the nurses brought the meds to you. Not only that, they made sure to read your wristband every single time, and they went over each medication with you, comparing each capsule or tablet with a printout they carried with them. This gives both you and the nurse peace of mind. There were likewise no lines to stand in to get your vital signs taken. Once again, they wheeled the little blood-pressure and pulse-taker thingy to you each morning, along with a thermometer and a smile.

Each day started out with your nurse coming in to your room with a cheerful “Good morning!” whereupon she would open the drapes and ask you how you slept. Now, some people might have been irritated by that, but I wasn’t because I’ve seen the opposite extreme: a brusque “Time to get up!” as someone rushed past the doorway.

Another lovely touch was being able to have a leisurely meal. No lining up to go to a cafeteria and rushing through the meal so another group could come in and eat. Here, the meals were brought to us in a dining room and we had lots of time to eat and visit. This is great for the digestion and morale. They even handed us our individual trays. The meals were selected from a menu the day before, just like in a regular hospital.

And you know what? Shouldn’t all of this be “just like in a regular hospital?” This is an important point. Why? Because mental illness is just like a regular illness. And mental patients should be treated with the same respect and lovingkindness regular patients demand and get.

Oh, and above-average, excellent care, goes a long way toward healing, too.

To be continued…

December 25, 2005

Dear Bloggers

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 2:17 am

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December 24, 2005

What Kind of Reindeer Are You?

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 6:35 pm
You Are Rudolph

Sweet and shy, you tend to be happiest when you’re making someone else happy.

Why You’re Naughty: You sometimes stick that nose where it doesn’t belong

Why You’re Nice: Christmas would be a sad affair without you!

Which of Santa’s Reindeer Are You?

Part 1: Psychiatry Is Not An Exact Science

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 11:46 am

Last Sunday I checked myself into the hospital for severe depression. I did the same thing at the beginning of November (I posted about that when I began this blog.) Both times I was feeling suicidal, so I asked for help in dealing with my feelings. Back in my early 20’s I thought that killing myself was the only option I had for relieving the mental, emotional, and spiritual pain I was in. I now know that suicide is not a solution, but a symptom. I learned that from a very competent therapist and also from training years ago when I worked the phone lines at a suicide and crisis center.

I was discharged last night. I tell you, the Internet withdrawal was almost as bad as the caffeine withdrawal. Because the hospital I went to treats people with alcohol and substance abuse problems, caffeine was banned as an undesirable substance. Tomcat surprised me with a thermos of coffee in the car on the way home (that’s my Schmoopie!), and when I got home, I made another pot of coffee. Yes, I was bouncing off the walls last night, but I didn’t care. It was the principle of the thing, damn it.

While in the hospital, it occurred to me several times that I really should make some notes or something so that later I could blog about the whole experience. Some of you may remember the slogan from my old blog, “I only write true things.” Well, like most bloggers, I held back some truths about myself, like the facts that I had an abusive childhood and have been in and out of hospitals and therapy, and on medications for most of my adult life. I want this blog to include these truths, because after all, they are essential to who I am. You know, blogging is some form of self-therapy, anyway, isn’t it? At least for me it is… So I want this blog to be about the real stuff. But did I keep any notes? Nooooooooo, I was too effing depressed for that. So now, I’m going to try to remember many of the things that happened and blog about them here. You might find some of it interesting, and maybe even entertaining or humorous (you know, gallows humor, as it were.)

I may end up doing this in more chronological order, but let me start with what happened late yesterday afternoon as I was about to be discharged. As you might imagine, lots of people were going home yesterday because of the holidays. In fact, early yesterday morning I overheard some of the nursing staff talking about that. It was at morning shift change, and the night shift was telling the morning shift that six people were being discharged that day.

There was a cry of dismay, “Six!?”

“But I thought it was four,” another one said.

Someone else said, “Four’s bad enough, but six?” At this point I thought, “Bad? What’s bad about it? Won’t your workload be decreased?”

But then I heard another person say, “How will we get all the paperwork done?”

Ah. The paperwork. Late yesterday afternoon, I was handed some paperwork. First were two surveys about my stay there. I had nothing but glowing things to say about this hospital. It’s a different one from where I was in November. The November one wasn’t bad by any means, but this second one had a much more comprehensive program and a different philosophy on how to treat patients (more about that in later posts.) Then there was a consent form allowing the hospital to give out my medical information to … someone. The blank for the someone was … blank. I asked the nurse whose name was supposed to go in the blank. She said it would be the name of the new psychiatrist I would be seeing as an outpatient, a doctor they had already set me up with three weeks from now. I asked her to fill in the blank with this guy’s name because I didn’t want to sign a blank(et) consent. Lastly, there was a form that listed all my meds and instructions for taking them. At the top of this form was my name, patient number, dates of admission and discharge, and my diagnoses. I could not believe what the hospital doctor had put for the secondary (called “Axis II”) diagnosis. It was “Borderline Personality Disorder” (called “BPD”). The first Axis was what it has always been: “Major Depression, Recurrent, Severe.”

BPD? How strange. All my previous records listed my secondary diagnosis as “Dissociative Disorder, NOS” (“NOS” stands for “Not Otherwise Specified”). This doctor, who had never seen me before, changed my diagnosis when I first came into the hospital. I asked him about that as soon as I found out about it, which I believe was about Day Three. Now, here it was Day Six, and what he had previously told me was only his preliminary diagnosis still stood. I completely understood that a preliminary diagnosis had to be made upon admission to the hospital, but I was surprised to see that it was still on my record at discharge. (This record would go to the new psychiatrist I’d be seeing as an outpatient). Well, it could be that he had forgotten to change it, or that he had not forgotten and just decided to change it even though other doctors over the years had made a different diagnosis. You see, psychiatry is not an exact science at all, but is subjective, that is, based on a doctor’s individual perceptions. Hopefully these perceptions are compliant with the recognized diagnostic criteria used by everyone in the profession. That’s of course why the criteria exist, so that everyone is on the same page, so to speak, when making diagnoses. But what if they’re not in line with these criteria? Maybe that would be not so much a case of psychiatry is not an exact science, but one of not all psychiatrists are created equal.

To be continued…

December 17, 2005

Help, Please

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 3:33 pm

Will some kind soul please email me and give me the html code or whatever it is I need to get one of those “Impeach Bush” banners on my blog? THANK YOU!

I’M AN IDIOT UPDATE: Thanks to Muligan for giving me the link to get the code! (BTW, my email can be accessed from my Profile page). ANYWAY, I copied the code and I tried putting it in on the Blogger Template. I didn’t know where exactly to put it, but I tried at least a dozen places. The banner never showed up. I don’t know what I did wrong. This is embarrassing, but I won’t give up yet. Can someone please tell me where the code goes in the template?


Scruffybutt Gets An Estimate

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 8:41 am

I’m sinking further into depression because the effects of the ECTs have worn off. The agoraphobia is returning and I’m having a hard time doing. anything. but sitting in front of the screens — computer and TV. So yesterday when Scruffbutt was wanting to play but I didn’t feel like it, I remembered that there was something I’ve often thought of doing but never did: take Scruffles to the groomers for an estimate! (A little humor there — whenever I go to the hair salon, I call it “going to the beauty shop for an estimate”). Scruffybutt has never been groomed, and I have never taken any of my dogs to the groomers, simply because she’s the only one we’ve ever had with long hair. I am not diligent about brushing her, although Tomcat and I both try to keep up with cutting the mats out so she won’t be uncomfortable.

I called PetsMart. The store is a familiar place, so I won’t have to battle the agoraphobia so much. They have an appointment at 3:30. Heh. This is going to be so much fun. We get there and see all the little fru-fru doggies being groomed: the poodles, a Yorkie, a miniature Schnauzer. And here I am with … Scruffybutt, a terrier mix (oh gawd! this is North Dallas!) They put her information in the computer — her name, age, etc., but when they get to “breed” I say “terrier mix.” The gal hesitates, frowning at the screen. She calls her boss over and asks, “If you had to guess which terrier breed she’s closest to, what would you say?” The boss looks Scruffybutt over, then says “Cairn.” The gal clicks it in. (They don’t even have a category in the computer program for a mixed-breed dog! I check to be sure I don’t have a toothpick hanging out of my mouth.)

What do we want to have done today, she asks. Uh, well, everything? (I have no idea what to ask for. This is my first groomer experience, too.) She shows me a list and points out the basic grooming, plus the upgrade, which includes teeth brushing, an oatmeal shampoo, a scented creme rinse, a holiday neckerchief, and nail polish. Oh! The works, I say, definitely the works. What color nail polish? Red, definitely red. (Is it not the season for red?)

Then she asks the groomer when Scruffybutt will be ready for pick-up. He says 6:30. (Three hours? Hell, even I don’t have to spend three hours at the salon!) Hmmm. Okay, I hand my little darling over and she gives me her go-to-hell look. I plunk down my credit card and sign for an obscene amount of money. I don’t care. This is self-therapy. I am cheering myself up.

Three hours later I return to the groomers, and they are finishing up. I say “they” because it is taking one to hold Scruffybutt while the other one files her nails with some kind of electric-powered nail-filing thingy. They tell me there’s no way they can do the nail polish because she squirms so much, even with someone holding her, that the polish wouldn’t look good. She’ll have to go au naturel this season. When they’re finished grinding her nails, they put the holiday neckerchief on her and let her down on the floor. She’s so wound up she starts scampering around, wiggle-butting and barking and telling everybody what she thinks about the whole thing. She is what Tomcat and I call “et up with herself.” And she looks adorable. Everyone is saying, “awww” and the groomer tells me, “He’s really got lots of personality.” “She,” I say. (Remember, as I’ve said before, Scruffybutt is so alpha that she pees with her leg up. The groomer must have assumed she was a he, and I guess he didn’t look very closely, probably because my little darling was wriggling so much.)

She looks so adorable and somehow they have transformed this nine-year-old dog into a one-year-old. She looks like a puppy! Damn, I wish they could take that many years off me when I go to the salon! (I wonder how much PetsMart would charge to groom a middle-aged woman of mixed English/Irish/Whatever heritage?)

December 15, 2005

Online or On Line?

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 9:40 pm

The first time I did all my Christmas shopping online, a friend’s husband looked horrified at the very idea. Shopping online, he said, deprived me of the total holiday experience. It removed the human contact and depersonalized the whole season.

Yes, it deprived me of the joy of human contact …

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and let’s not forget the magic of the lines …

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The guy is a doctor, and I doubt very seriously that he has ever had to do the Christmas shopping for the entire family, or even for his office staff. No, I believe his wife does all that, and has done for years, plus the party planning (that’s where this conversation took place), the card-sending, the cooking, the wrapping, the decorating and everything else. His office assistant almost certainly found the gifts that he would give his wife. Why do I suspect this? Because I worked for lawyers for 25 years and I remember all those wives’ gifts I had to find. And I know that that their wives did all the shopping. I figure doctors are the same. This may all sound terribly sexist now, but remember, I’m in my mid-fifties and started working in the early 1970’s. It was the norm that men were in the professions, and it was expected that their (female) support staff would do the Christmas shopping for the wives’ gifts. And it was expected that the wives would do all the shopping. This particular doctor and his wife are old enough to be my parents, btw, so things were even more sexist in their day.

But all of this is not the reason that I prefer to shop online. Tomcat is not anything like the lawyers I used to work for. So that’s not it. And I do love to shop. Love it. So that’s not it, either. No, my problem is that I can’t stand the feeling of having a deadline when I shop. Maybe it’s all those years of working under deadlines. It’s just not fun that way. So, I’d much rather do the Christmas shopping leisurely and in my PJs late at night while I’m watching Letterman or something.

This is the magic for me:

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Click, click, click. The presents are selected, the giftwrap option is checked, and the package is shipped directly to the recipient so that I don’t even have to go to the post office. This may not be for everyone, but it suits me.

I’m finished with the shopping for this year. I don’t feel deprived. I feel relaxed. I’m done, and there’s lots of time left over to see all the lights, watch the Christmas movies, listen to the music, and of course, blog.

Merry Christmas, ya’ll.

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