Song: “Combine Harvester” by The Wurzels
Today was quite the day. I actually managed to NOT sleep through my alarm this morning, and I had most of my stuff together and ready for when FA came by. The house was a little messier than usual but I figured that she’s seen worse, and if there was a significant problem, I could fix it when it came up.
She arrived at around 10AM. I scampered out to her car (wearing pants again, what a drag) and we went to the hardware store to browse and look for a couple of things. We did our usual aisle crawl and chatted about this and that the whole time. FA had some bad coffee, I puzzled over hex key sets… you know, the usual. Also as usual, I left the store carrying many more things than I’d intended to buy. That’s part of the fun, though.
We were there for almost two hours, then headed over to the burrito shop and ordered them to go. We got back to the house, I pushed some of my stuff on the dining room table out of the way, and we sat down for lunch. The time at the hardware store went better than I was expecting. The store was pretty quiet and there is one staff member there who always says hi and asks how we’re doing. I don’t know if she recognizes us (I suppose FA and I probably stand out a bit) or if she’s like that with everyone, but she always seems to be working when we go there and it’s… pleasant(?) to see her. I think pleasant is the right word. Unfortunately, I find the burrito shop very difficult to hear and communicate in, so by the time we were done there and got back to the house, I was quite relieved.
FA and I spent a ton of time talking about all kinds of things while we ate. It took longer than usual because I don’t know what happened but the burrito the fellow made for her was ENORMOUS. There was juuuuust enough wrap to go around it. I think we spent a couple of minutes just gazing in wonder at this giant whole-grain football thing sitting on the table. As usual, they were both very tasty and satisfying.
The hardware store has always carried bolts and fasteners but they have all been SAE and far too large for our uses. Today, though, FA spotted some kits of metric bolts and nuts, as well as another one that just had nuts in it down to M3. Both of them were labelled as stainless steel, so we figured we’d hit the jackpot. We decided to buy one of each set and split it between us.
Back at the house and with our lunch burritos just a pleasant memory, FA took a closer look at one of the bolts and questioned whether it was, in fact, stainless steel. That started a discussion about how to test the various stainless steels, which led to magnets being unleashed, some filing of metal, some sniffing of metal, and then some research into how to make something rust quick. Most of the answers we came across required acids or products that weren’t on hand, but we found one comment on one post on one site that mentioned hydrogen peroxide and salt. I mixed up a little bit, we threw in a bolt and a nut, and almost immediately there was a faint orangeness in the liquid around the parts. Seven hours later, I took the parts out of the liquid and rinsed and dried them:
I wonder if maybe they won’t stain if you spill hair dye or ketchup on them. No, wait – ketchup has acid in it. It’d probably corrode the bolts too. Regardless, it’s still great to have some nuts and bolts in smaller metric sizes and I think they’re worth the money.
FA and I then had a good chat (I think all of our chats are good, actually) about various projects that we had on the go or things we were hoping to get done at some point. We talked about her balloon project, my water detectors, my sowbug trap idea, some of her wiki plans and ideas, and then we both remembered that I’d played around a while ago to see if I could cause latency or some timeouts in a local network.
It didn’t work as well as it had when I first played with it, but after I tweaked some of the settings it was obvious that my home network was stuttering. I started up Fortnite and tried to play a couple of rounds (this was FA’s first exposure to the game), and with the network latency and dropped packets, it was frustrating to navigate the map, and as soon as I saw another player I got mangled. So that seemed to be working, at least somewhat. Time got away on us, though, and before we knew it, it was time to leave for my Dr W appointment. FA was kind enough to give me a ride to the hospital on her way home (thank you!!!).
I’d been having such a good time shooting the breeze and talking about various potential projects and capers that I really, REALLY didn’t want to go to my appointment. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to miss them (and I’m lucky to have an excellent psychiatrist) so we tidied up our stuff, made sure everyone had everything they bought, and then we went back out to the car.
I enjoyed the conversation with FA during the drive, but that awful feeling of SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG (and the associated thoughts that go with that) was inexorably pushing its way into the front of my mind, and as the drive went on, I think I participated in our conversation less and less, and felt the familiar prickly feeling as I started to sweat. I don’t think I was unpleasant (at least I hope I wasn’t) but I certainly wasn’t a great conversationalist by the time we got to the hospital (sorry about that!!!).
My appointment with Dr W went alright. He was delighted to hear that I’m still getting together with FA and very pleased with my attempts to keep my brain and hands busy. He wanted to know all the details – what was I building, how did I come up with a particular idea, what things didn’t work out and how did that go… all sorts of stuff. He was also very pleased that I got out in the truck again the other day, and was happy to hear that I’ve been more physically active, too. I told him about the recommendations that Dr H made for my exercising (which could be summed up as “take it slow”) and he was happy with that.
Dr W put the possibility of reducing some of my medication on the table (particularly the quetiapine), but I asked if we could wait a little longer. I still have to force myself to get out of bed, and after I have breakfast, I have to force myself to get out of the chair or off the couch and start working on things like electronics or sewing or 3D printing or putting stuff under the microscope. The thing is, I’m enjoying doing these things once I get started, but I still need to build up steam and will myself off the couch to go do something interesting. I asked Dr W if we could hold off on the medication changes, hoping that by the time I see him next, getting up and doing some of this stuff will be more of a habit or something that comes easy, instead of me arguing with myself and cursing myself out before I start doing something. He thought that was a good idea but reminded me that I have frequently seen medication reductions as a “win”, and the quetiapine in particular is one of the factors causing me to be carrying around extra weight. A reduction along with exercise may well help me lose a bit of the weight I’ve put on since I got sick, and that would be great.
After my appointment, I wandered around the hospital grounds and got myself turned around and unsure of where the main entrance was. I finally found it, and there was mercifully a taxi sitting there. I walked over and… it was empty. No driver. I waited for about five minutes, then called the taxi company, who told me they’d send a car ASAP (it was very much rush hour at this time). I saw car after car from another cab company, and then finally, twenty-five minutes after I’d been standing by this car, looking like a dumbass, a guy comes out of the hospital and waves at me. He says he’s the driver… but he doesn’t have the key to the car. His partner does, and they were going to do their shift change right away. He tries to call his partner (who is still somewhere in the hospital), but gets no answer.
By this point, I was starting to wind up into a tight little coil. I was trying to relax and do grounding exercises but there were so many people and so many cars moving around that I couldn’t concentrate enough to do them. Another five minutes goes by before the other driver comes out of the hospital. He apologizes to me (I probably had a weird look on my face by that point), and the two drivers commence the beautiful and rare dance that is the Cabbie Shift Change.
I’m just kidding – it was two guys yelling back and forth about butt pillows (the driver’s seat apparently feels like cement), house keys, radio settings, lunch bags, and whether someone had seen someone else’s phone. It was interesting but horrible, and felt like it was going on forever.
Once the shift change had completed and the new driver put his foot on the pedal, I KNEW I was in for something special. Rush hour traffic? This guy didn’t care. I don’t think we spent more than 90 seconds in a lane the whole way home. He’d stomp the gas (and I think there was something very wrong with the car from the sound it made when he put the hammer down) and go shooting into a tiny little gap between vehicles. The guy knew exactly how large his car was and exactly what it could do. If I hadn’t been so desperate to get home, I think I would’ve enjoyed the ride. Dude was CRAZY. I’m not sure but I suspect that he got me home faster than a helicopter could’ve (except maybe Airwolf).
Do you know when you’ve really, really got to pee and the closer you get to the bathroom, the more urgent things get, until you’re making that weird whimpering sound and taking tiny little steps as you approach the bathroom door? That’s kind of how I felt when I got out of the cab, except it was a big ball of steel wool noise rolling around in my head (although I did have to pee, too). I fumbled with the locks, and when I got inside, I closed the door and before anything else, I just sat down on the stairs, closed my eyes, and breathed the familiar smells of home and listened to the familiar sounds of home. The fish tank burbling away, the fridge making that horrible tortured sound it sometimes does, that kind of stuff.
After a couple of minutes I was beginning to feel better. I got up, took off my shoes, jacket, and hat, and went upstairs to change out of the damp stuff I was wearing and into shorts and a fresh shirt. I sat down on the couch and changed between sending some texts and sitting there with my eyes closed. It was a huge relief to be back in the bubble.
J arrived home about 15 minutes later with groceries. I helped her with them and then went back to the couch and sat some more before getting up and cleaning up more of my mess on the dining room table again (sorry sweetie!!!), after which point we had supper.
As the evening went on, I was starting to feel more like myself again, but then I started getting texts from a friend. I’m delighted to help him with his stuff (it’s another kind of project to do!), but as the conversation went on, he was thinking of more and more elaborate (and expensive, and potentially dangerous) solutions. I tried to steer the conversation toward something I thought was a little less complicated, but the whole thing was starting to give me an odd (and not good) feeling. I think by the end of it I’d managed to convince him to think about not spending four thousand or so bucks on stuff, but I felt very strange.
J asked what was going on so I tried to tell her about how I was feeling and that it wasn’t a good feeling and I was worried about my friend but wasn’t sure whether I should just go ahead and tell him I think he’s being ridiculous, or whether I should back away from the whole thing and let him do what he wants, or… whatever.
J looked at me and said, very calmly, that I was thinking about my friend the way that J was thinking about me when I was sick and putting cameras up all over the house and worrying about doors and stove elements and power cables and sewer drains and all that kind of stuff. I’d never really seen stuff from this perspective before. I can completely understand the desire to install layer upon layer upon layer of security – a job that can never truly be done because there’s always something else you can do, but I can now also see that it’s not healthy. It’s disturbing to see that kind of thing in other people, particularly when they’re friends and you’ve known them for a long time.
I babbled at J about that stuff for close to an hour, and bless her heart, she was calm, patient, and helpful the whole time. Eventually, I calmed down again and we went downstairs to watch a Brooklyn Nine-Nine to end off the evening.
So today was a very strange day:
- Time with FA: Wonderful
- Hardware store: Great
- Burritos: Great
- Burrito Store: Eeehhhhhh
- Drive to my appointment: Good -> A little angsty
- Appointment: Okay
- Wandering around, trying to find the main hospital entrance: Not so good
- Waiting 25 minutes for someone to return to an empty car: Bad
- Amount of foot and vehicle traffic at the hospital: Bad (but normal for a hospital, of course)
- Cab ride home: Should’ve been Okay (the driver was either an artist or a maniac), but Bad
- Getting back home: Great
- J getting home: Fantastic
- Having that text conversation: Unsettling and not good
Some ups and downs today. I don’t have any other appointments this week or any reason to put on pants, for that matter. If it’s drizzly and grey again tomorrow I will shuffle along on the treadmill instead of going outside.