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September 01, 2014

Tipping Toward the Good

Okay, what's been going on?

Well, all of the non-paying clients paid up and I, in turn, was able to pay most of my bills this summer. That was a little spot of joy.

I got run out of the apartment for a full day unexpectedly, after the Great Ceiling Flood debacle, so that painters could come in and repaint the living room ceiling. That was kind of a pain but it's nice to have a clean ceiling so 50/50 on the good/bad scale.

A second new client came on board. This was a much larger initiative than I've tackled on my own before. Without getting into details that would bore you, I'll just say there were about 97k elements to be created and organized. It took me most of seven days to do the work, and another two days to proofread and correct tiny errors, but the client had a Labor Day launch deadline and I was ready with two days to spare!

I like a project that looks bigger and more complicated than I can deal with. I get too few challenges of that type. Definitely to the good.

This summer has been, by and large, cooler and wetter than any summer we've had in recent years. I've really enjoyed that. Good.

A week ago I walked into the bathroom to wash my hands and found the sink full of black water, with water dripping from the pipes underneath. Bad.

One emergency call to the maintenance service later and we discovered that there was some kind of sewer back-up going on in our building.

They came, they repaired, I cleaned. Blech. I wound up throwing some of the cleaning rags away when I'd finished--I couldn't imagine they'd ever wash clean enough to use again and putting all of that black yuck back into the sewer system didn't sound like a wise idea.

The rest of the icky bad is medical and under the cut because I whine at length about it.

(If you skip it, you won't miss anything interesting or important. It's not related to a terminal disease or anything.)


Around and about the time of the GCF and the Unexpected Dental Disaster, I developed a spot on my leg, a place where I've had a mole for the last 20 years. For no discernable reason (okay, yes, I scratched it), it got infected and started to spread until I had a couple of dozen yucky spots in various places on my legs and nothing I tried seemed to help.


I did, yes, go to the doctor, who suggested I might have developed an allergy to the antibiotic cream I was slathering on* and who gave me a $60 prescription for a different cream.

(* I read the tube when I got home. The OTC stuff I'd been using was full of sulfates. I'm going to have to become a reader of labels.)

I spent two weeks smearing this different cream on before deciding it was doing no good and making an appointment with a dermatologist.

$60 down the tubes at a time when I was still trying to convince past and current clients to pay their bills was not an incidental expense. (Had I known, of course, that I was going to be tightwalking the poverty line in June and July, I would not have taken personal trips in May and June, pushing my credit card nearer its limit than I generally like it to be.)

Without going into icky details, I'll say that the dermatologist diagnosed one of those mysterious skin conditions that are basically the medical profession's way of saying, "sometimes this happens--we don't really know why." She gave me samples of a spray and a gel and prescriptions for more or each, along with a non-sulfate antibiotic.

I filled the antibiotic prescription that day and decided to give the samples for the other drugs a week's trial before I laid out money for those prescriptions.

It didn't take long to figure out that these new substances were, in fact, miracle drugs that were making a difference. I went to fill the prescriptions. The tab came to $970.

I ran away.

At that point in time, I just didn't have $970 to hand over, you know? I mean, not without cashing in a 401k or something.

I could live without the gel--it was an anti-itch med but for $330 I decided I could just exercise some self-control and not scratch. (Also, I still had some of the free sample she gave me, in case of drastic need.) (Although I need to stop talking about it now because there's nothing like talking about itching to make me develop psychosomatic itches all over.)

The spray-stuff, though, I really needed that.

Blah, blah, blah--endless mental debates, arguments, unreturned calls to dermatologist's office.

I finally cleared some space on my credit card (when a couple of clients paid up) and went back for the spray-stuff. This time I remembered to take the pharma coupon the dermatologist had given me strict instructions to hand over when picking up the spray-stuff (and that I had, naturally, forgotten all about). It turns out that the coupon saved me $415 off the $600 price tag, so a lot of needless, self-inflicted stress there. I mean, I didn't enjoy handing over $185 but it wasn't really an optional choice. Medical expenses rarely are.

And the med is working. I wouldn't go so far as to say the condition is cured but it's definitely clearing up.

When you get old, you heal more slowly (especially if you're a smoker), so while I longed for an overnight cure, I didn't really expect it. Not feeling (or looking) quite so much like a walking communicable disease factory any more is very nice, indeed. (The only saving grace all along has been that 95% of the problem areas were under my clothes. Otherwise, I'd have been forced to spend the summer hiding under the bed.)

I need a couple more visits to the dermatologist--I'm going to get another couple of moles removed so that this doesn't happen in quite this way again. I have not enjoyed the experience.

What with all the unexpected medical stuff, I'm behind on getting my bills paid but should get a fair amount for my work in August, enough to get me started catching up. I have to travel again at the end of October, a trip that's important to my professional life but I hope to have space on my credit card to cover those expenses by then.

All in all, this has not been one of my more serene summers.

posted by AnneZook on 09.01.14 at 09:03 AM


Medical stuff gets more and more fun: Just had the first part of my first crown work done.

That, after a labor day weekend that involved driving to KC, having a friend need medical help, watching an 11-inning baseball loss, rushing back from KC just a bit too late to be on time, then going back to KC Monday because the computer people screwed up Saturday (well, really, Sunday, when they failed to tell us that their diagnostics caught the failure that was about to happen).

Otherwise, life is... life. I really need to stop volunteering for online teaching at the last minute.

posted by: Jonathan Dresner on 09.02.14 at 03:20 PM [permalink]

Sorry for the delay in responding. Yes, medical stuff gets more and more fun, the older you get. I didn't even know this many things COULD go wrong with my body, you know?

Just finished about $4k worth of work on my own teeth. The dentist wants to do more but it will have to wait until I can afford to pay for it.

posted by: Anne on 09.24.14 at 10:52 AM [permalink]

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