Category: Craptastic (Page 2 of 8)

A Tale Of Two

When Chelsea King went missing, we (as I am sure all area residents did) felt dismay and concern. Bear and I (as well as MacD, Nannygoat and Mr. Vixen) were hit especially close to home. That is our field. That is our place. Yes it’s a community field, but it was our community field. My children grew up there. Learned to fly kites there, played softball there, hiked the trails with our dogs there, Gram and Gramps took Ladybug to the park there every Saturday morning for years, we celebrated birthday parties there. My first time trying roller blades was there, as was my first big fall off roller blades. The boys had epic paint ball competitions there. Lloyd proposed marriage to Nannygoat on the trails near the waterfall. This was a place of many years of joy and activities for us.

Between Bear and I, Bear was absolutely convinced Chelsea had fallen on the trails and was hurt. We know the trails and it can be rough terrain in areas. Falling into a culvert, being unable to get out seemed like the obvious and only scenario to Bear. Being young, healthy, full of faith and innocence; she was so sure. I was hopeful this was the case, but not certain. A sick feeling in my stomach, mother’s intuition maybe, or just a sense of foreboding.

When they called for volunteers on Saturday morning, despite the pouring rain, Bear and I suited up in our best hiking gear, purchased two rain ponchos and headed off. By this time, my brain was entertaining the thought that she hadn’t fallen. That she wasn’t lying somewhere hurt and waiting to be found. Bear’s faith, however, remained untouched by the length of time and the fact that 100s of deputies had been searching for days and not found her. As we fought the traffic jam near the search HQ for nearly an hour, we noticed volunteers beginning to walk away from the area instead of towards the check in point. We asked several of them what was going on. It turned out too many people had shown up for the search. All volunteers were being turned away for now. We were asked to come back the next day.

Then someone was arrested in connection to her disappearance. Details were sketchy, but for certain they had found an article of her clothing and DNA linking to convicted sex offender. My heart sank, as reality set in. Bear would not give up hope that Chelsea was out there somewhere still. Possibly hurt by this man, but fighting on and just waiting to be found. She had to work the next two days, so we were unable to join the search. But during those two days, our lives were rocked by more revelations.

That Saturday night, they released some details about the man being held in connection with the case. His picture was all over the TV. As was the address at which he was living. This wasn’t just our park, this was our neighborhood. That home was just two blocks from our home of ten years. Fishboy’s mother lives a scant few houses away, as does his aunt’s family. Nannygoat walked past there on a daily basis during the years surrounding his first conviction and she was 14 years old at the time; the same age as his victims. Less than a block from Bear’s elementary school, where she walked to and from 2nd-6th grade. On Sunday morning, Sparkles came by to help with a shed Mr. Vixen is building. He also had news. Apparently when his pregnant girlfriend had watched the news the night before, she had recognized the man being held. Her sister called her and confirmed it. She allowed me to read some of her court papers. You see, she was one of the girls who testified at his preliminary hearing 10 years ago. She was one of his victims. Thank God, not one of the victims who were so badly beaten that resulted in the crimes he was actually charged with. She was one of the “lucky” victims, if there is such a thing, who got away. Still, she was wounded emotionally and the fear of testifying during that time still haunts her to this day. So haunted, that she had never shared with anyone but her family. You see, we know her because she lived in our neighborhood. These are our kids who were hurt. It could have been my daughter, they are nearly the same age. Sadly, during those two days, one last revelation was revealed: that the suspect had lived not far from the high school where Amber Dubois had disappeared during the time she went missing nearly 13 months ago. I felt this was too much coincidence. We had just moved into this city when Amber had gone missing and I had tried to join in that search also.

The day of our search efforts dawned chilly, but clear. Bear was now certain we were looking for a body. Certain of this myself, I wondered what they would have us do? Certainly they didn’t want a bunch of volunteers tromping through possible crime scenes? We were assigned to a group, given a leader and our leader was handed a grid map of the area we were assigned to. It wasn’t any where near the park or the trails. It was actually near where Amber Dubois had disappeared some 13 months ago. Turns out we were not searching for a missing 17-year-old girl on this assignment, but for the possible remains of a 13-year-old girl who had been missing for over a year. We were instructed on what to look for (bones, clothing, shallow graves and such) and what to do when we found something. I listened with stunned disbelief. What am I doing? Can I do this? What if we find bones or a grave? Could I handle it? Could Bear handle it? Our group gathered. Leaving no stone unturned, no holes uninvestigated, and tromping down every inch of vegetation on the overgrown hillside; we searched. Fingertip to fingertip, lined in neat rows, step by slow step for three hours. At times calling to the police officer who was our leader when we found something suspicious. The officer would check what we found. If it warranted further investigation, we tied an orange flag at the area. Bear and I had used up all six of our flags. And then someone’s phone rang. And then another. They had found Chelsea’s body. It was unconfirmed, but we were headed back to search HQ. As hundreds of volunteers milled around, drinking donated water and eating donated food, we waited for word. After a time, quietly, a lead volunteer went from small group to small group. He laid his hands lightly on our backs and stated it was confirmed. We held each other and wept. For her parents, for Chelsea and for our community. We were interviewed by the news. Bear was asked if she knew Chelsea and said no. And then she told him why we had come: That we had to come and that if she was missing she knew her parents would need help. Later that evening, when we saw our snippets played out on the news about how close-knit our community is (me) and Bear’s statements about being there for a stranger’s family who needed help, we cried again.

During the week we watched as our community reeled from the discovery. As news crews filmed in front of our old neighbor’s homes and in front of trail heads where we walked daily. One particularly enraged neighbor was filmed angrily screaming at two boys who painted over some graffiti that was painted on the suspect’s parent’s home. Although I understood his rage (fueled by fear for his children, I am sure); I commended those boys for what they did. No child in the area needed to see that kind of stuff. Parent’s were probably having a hard enough time explaining what was going on to their children. When they replayed that newscast later when everyone was home from work, I found out that the angry, screaming man is Fishboy’s uncle. The threads of this community are inexorably tied into my family.

This past Sunday, as we were decorating for RolyPoly’s baby shower breaking news came on. As we switched to the news channel they announced the remains of Amber Dubois had been found. Bear and I sat on the couch, arms around each other praying out loud that we honestly hoped it wasn’t in the area we had searched. Where we had hung our orange flags. Neither of us thought we could handle that. It wasn’t, but we held each other again. Bear whispered in my ear as I cried for the parents, that she was still here. And I thanked God for that, but as I looked in her eyes I saw it. The loss of her innocence. Gone was that youthful naivete, replaced with a dawning knowledge that her world was not the place she had believed it was.

I am not, in any way, trying to take attention away from the actual victims here: those girls who were abused and beaten; the two girls who’s young lives were taken from them too soon; those families whose lives are forever altered by the loss of a loved one in such a horrific and tragic way. But whoever did this, didn’t just victimize them. They victimized an entire community. They victimized my family too. Our hearts were abused and beaten by the death of these girls. Our memories of a place we considered safe and filled with joy, are now tarnished forever with the stains of the blood of innocence. Our grief and pain is not as great as theirs, but it exists just the same. And after the rage subsides, we will find a way to change things. Change something or anything. Some how, some way we will find a way to help those leading us to make a change that might save lives some day. That is our promise to Chelsea and Amber. And to our community.

In Which Feisty V Takes Charge and Regular V Hides In A Corner

This is a post I struggled to write. How to say what is in my head, yet keep it readable. I have always shied away from any controversies and I try to remain so. I just feel the need to speak out. I am not trying to say anyone is right or wrong. I am not defending myself. I am just unable to silence Feisty Vixen this time. To not say anything, to pretend I don’t have questions, seems disloyal to myself. So I write this post. And no matter how I try, it cannot be brief. Do I even have a blog worthy of a post this long? I doubt it. But it is mine and so I shall have my way, whether it be read or not.

As of today, I have decided to stop running BlogHer Ads on this site. This was a very difficult decision for me. When I began blogging in March of 2007, I had been reading blogs for two years prior to that. There are scores of truly great writers who have inspired me, entertained me, and challenged my thinking that I found through BlogHer. It was always a dream of mine to attend a conference one day, but I must deal with the hand that life has dealt me for now and that is not within my reach. My first blog was a WP free blog that didn’t allow me to run BlogHer ads and by the time I purchased my own domain, the ad spots were full and I was on a waiting list. In 2008, I finally was able to start running ads. My main reasoning in wanting the ads was not revenue (I didn’t think I had enough readers to make much money), but for the sense of belonging to a community and for the featured articles just below the ads. I love to discover new reads and I don’t deny I appreciated the new visitors I garnered when I was featured. As my blog grew a bit, I managed to make up to $25+ per quarter, and during this last difficult year I would by lying if I didn’t say that even that small amount of money every 3 months didn’t made a big difference at times. Like the difference between milk that month or not.  This barely describes all the reasons I am so saddened by this decision, but sums it up somewhat.

This blog is my place. The fellowship and community it has created for me cannot be measured and is irreplaceable. I will not be dishonest with you or myself and say that I wouldn’t love for it to make me money also, but that is not the heart of it. However, this was/is still difficult because I do fear repercussions. I fear alienating my friends and strangers. I fear the impact that might have on my side business (ApronFrenzy) as I have worked so hard to build that up and I use this blog as a way to reach out and (hopefully) market that. As it is entirely possible that I am in the wrong, or that they are in the wrong., or that we are both in the wrong; I feel vulnerable in speaking out. However, my heart won’t let my head be still and so I will share you with the catalyst to this decision and below that I will expound a little more and then be done with it. What follows is an email exchange that occurred on Tuesday: Blogher staff email in black, mine in red.

I was reading your site today and noticed you are displaying an EntreCard widget above the fold (currently measuring at 720 pixels). Now that they are servicing paid ads, these need to appear below the fold (top 768 pixels) as BlogHerAds should be the only graphic ads displayed above the fold according to our guidelines. Could you move it down please?

Additionally, I did want to touch base on a couple of posts you’ve written recently (http://vixensden.com/?p=2086 and http://vixensden.com/?p=2107) as they are skirting our editorial guidelines of receiving freebies valued over $40 at events and being advertorial in nature. Right now, both are okay to display next to our ads but I’m afraid any future similar posts should be displayed fully on pages not containing our ads. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns!

I received freebies? Winning a drawing is a freebie? Also, I don’t believe the coffee press was worth more than $10-15 and added with the $25 gift card, it’s barely that. Regarding the other post, I paid for my night at #jammyjam, the only free thing we recvd was a make up brush set from E.L.F. because they can’t re-use brushes on people. I do believe the value was less than $10. I paid $55 to participate in Jammyjam, and I dislike the idea that I can’t post     about things I paid to do on my blog. It doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t accept paid ads on my Entre card widget and never have. But I need to move it below the fold? I just want to clarify these things.

The value of freebies isn’t limited to tangible items you take home, it also include food, drinks, car rides, train tickets, manicures, spa treatments, etc (just some of the items we see on other sites).

According to the research we’ve done, Etrecards now reserves the right to display paid ads unless you pay them not to as their terms of service changed a few months ago.

Also, I have moved my entrecard down, but I have no idea how to measure pixels. When I view my site, the entrecard was already below the what I could see and I had to scroll down to view it. I’ve now moved it below the twitter button, is that low enough?

Thank you Vixen! It’s measuring at 875 pixels now.

And how do you determine the value? Some girl volunteered to apply make up to my face? My daughter gets it done at the mall for free. There was no food, car rides, train rides or anything else that I didn’t PAY for out of my pocket. It wasn’t a freebie junket, it was a bunch of twitter friends PAYING to get 2gether and hang out.

And even though we can opt out of paid ads (and pay for that option) we still need to move our widgets? Or do we have to report to BlogHer that we are using the paid service? Please advise.

One last clarification on the Got Milk event. The stuff I won was a raffle, not a freebie. So if I post about the $150 gift certificate I won at my church function last week, is that also in violation of policy? At the Got Milk event I did receive three cups of coffee and there were pastries available, but being a diabetic I only ate a small corner. As far as the face painting and kid’s crafts although altogether those things may have added up to more than $40, my daughter was with me (which I stated in the post, even showed a picture of her) and she is a blogger who was invited and they were her children who received the goods. So how does the editorial staff assume I received intangible gifts over a certain value? Thanks for your clarifications

For the milk event I averaged the amount of lattes and chocolate milk and with the freebies you disclosed that you received it got you right at the $40 limit, but I prefer to error on the side of less-expensive (like, $2 for a latte instead of $4.50). For the sleepover party, the larger issue is the advertorial nature of all freebies that were there (especially since you didn’t disclose the value). The amount of links and accolade to the vendors that were present is what is causing the post to be advertorial and potentially against our guidelines.

In regards to entrecards, yes – we are asking everyone in the network to display the widget below the fold or to provide us with documentation that entrecards guaranteed not to service paid ads.

I replied to this, in part, in my email I just sent – but just so you know, I did not consider face painting and kids crafts as a value. But if you got free tickets to an event, say four for your family each valued at $15 – that would be against our guidelines even though you, as the blogger, only authentically received one.

PR Agencies and companies provide bloggers freebies to get advertising. So we do total the value the freebies you and your family receive and determine if it’s above $40.

As for the Got Milk raffle, unless you paid a raffle ticket to receive the gift card, it is considered a freebie. I’m certain you paid for a raffle ticket at your church, correct?

The children received the chocolate milk, not I and the statement “But if you got free tickets to an event, say four for your family each valued at $15 – that would be against our guidelines even though you, as the blogger, only authentically received one.” does not apply since as I mentioned in this email, my daughter who is a blogger was invited and attended with her children. I attended alone.

And as an aside, as a teacher for CCD at my church we actually received two raffle tickets for free for our service.

And now the editorial part:

As I prepared this post, it became apparent to me that I may have come off as confrontational. I think it may be that I was defensive because so much of what was being said was assumption. And that is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t read minds and I don’t believe anyone else can. If there is doubt in someones mind, I would appreciate a question to clarify. Also the use of  the word ‘skirting‘. To me, that tends to connote an effort on my part to deceive or intimates that I am trying to avoid the TOS.  As far as the Got Milk post, I concede I may be in the wrong. This was a sponsored event and I should have been more careful. I have only a few comments regarding that:

  • If I had not posted how may coffees I consumed, how does staff determine/estimate what a person consumed? How can staff assume that because I posted about my daughter and grandchildren that I, who blogged this single post, was the only one invited and thus all the material and non-material items received should be logged onto my TOS?
  • If I had not won a raffle, then would this be a non issue? Because no matter if you use $2 or $4.50, three coffees does not equal $40. I would like to note that my husband’s previous work had two company parties a year. Vendors donated items to them to raffle. The tickets cost us no money. So by these rules would I be unable to post about my win and link my gratitude to the vendor?

Feisty Vixen, however, could not let go of the twitter gathering post though. The twitter event was not sponsored. There were no PR firms involved, no big guns or little guns. It was simply a bunch of twitter people who joked about having an adult sleepover. Some of those people have businesses. They came, put on their pj’s, hung out, visited and, yes, we talked. And, yes, we talked business too. I handed out cards for my aprons. The lovely lady who demonstrated her hand products (demonstrations are free at the mall, at in-home parties, at the fair and are not, in my opinion, freebies) did not give us free samples. She did, however, give me the phone number to her husbands’ neurosurgeon for an opinion regarding my needed back surgery which I am very grateful for. That is what twitter friends do. There were people there who had a separate room where you could view their products. We were not obligated to go there. But they also came into the visiting room and visited. As friends. There was a photographer who offered discounted packages, which I did not participate in. But she also had her pajama’s on and watched movies with us. There were no sponsors that offered us rooms or food. We paid for all of that. The make up that was given to us was donated to a women’s shelter the next day. I didn’t feel the need to mention that in the post because that is not what charity is about. I think Feisty V was really angry because I barely managed to scrape together the money to pay so I could attend. I worked really hard to pay to attend this unsponsored event. I almost wasn’t able to attend.

I linked to all the people who also attended because we had a good time. When I make new friends I like to share about it. When meeting new people, the chances of them having a business is a fact of life. Posting their links isn’t advertorial; it is connecting, socializing and showing thanks to them for sharing with me such a grand time. And as a wise sage (thanks @bjhenry) said to me “if the TOC is interfering with what you write, then yes, it’s time for them to go.”

But it wasn’t just that it was threatening to interfere with what I write. It was the assumptions that I received goods or non-material goods. There were no questions! No requests for clarification! No simple, “Hi was this a sponsored event? What did you consume? Take home?” In reading through the terms, I did not see anywhere stating that I can’t link to 100 businesses I like, if I feel like it!

At that point, I decided to think about it over night. On Wednesday, I decided to distract myself by redesigning my site (in spite of the fact that I have no idea how to do that). In the middle of the day, while trying to babysit an 11 month old and trying out design changes on my live blog (bad idea acknowledged-not how to do it), I lost my sidebars and had a bunch of other issues. I managed to get it somewhat back in order, but not everything was working. Including my BlogHer ads. After 6 hours (until 2am) of trying to figure out how to set up WP on my computer to “test’ out changes, instead of throwing my computer out the window, I went to bed. I figured I could work on it today (Thursday) since there would be no baby. When I got up this morning the following email was in my box:

Feb 25 7:35am I was reading your site today and noticed you removed our ads from your template. I’m going to go ahead and close your account so we can send any remaining revenue to you. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

And that sealed the deal. No questions. No inquiry as to if there might be a problem? Was I having difficulty getting the ads to work? Was something going on? Just an assumption. So, yes, go ahead and close out my account. Thanks for asking. Good luck in your endeavors.

New Year, Same Shit

ARGH. I am so frustrated. My Dad has offered to pay for the contrast MRI I need to determine if my disc is still herniated. I simply must be able to move on and get better. I must!

However, because I am a diabetic, they will not do the contrast MRI unless I have a BUN & Creatnine level done. My surgeon happily writes a scrip for said blood work. Now…where to go? I call every MediCal connections I can find. They say go to county. County says go to a MediCal provider (even though I have to pay the first $1516 each month). MediCal provider says “We don’t do blood work ordered by other doctors. You will have to make an appointment with one of our doctors (pay us another $55) and they will write the orders and then you can pay us for the blood work.” I say hell no. Call the MRI people. They say “Try the hospital, they take MediCal.” Duh, of course.

Hospital lab says sure, we will do it. The two tests will be $55.80 and $64.40 (which you will pay), but we will apply it to your monthly share of cost. That seems like a lot of money. I call a local lab company, ask how much of a discount I get if I pay cash up front for the tests. Total: $32.60.

Lesson learned: If you are poor and on MediCal (but not poor enough to have the free MediCal) then you should pay four times the amount for necessary blood work than anyone else who pays cash.

So, I will just pay the cheap lab and not have it go against my MediCal share of cost. But seriously, this bullsh*t took all morning! I am annoyed as heck. But I do have an MRI scheduled for next Tuesday!

I’d Rather Go Back To Boring

I’ve been worrying about what to blog about. There is so very little going on around here, except sewing, that I haven’t had any ideas. I spend my days worrying about how if I don’t blog, I won’t make the connections I need to stay positive and to meet more people to market my aprons to. I worry about where the money for the rent and utilities and food are going to come from. My last disability check paid through November 12th. Apparently, when my surgeon originally completed the forms he thought I would be better by then. When I saw him on the 11th of November, he decided I need a contrast MRI due to my continued inability to work. The MRI must have prior authorization from Medi-Cal (in spite of the fact that I must pay the first $1000 of any medical costs each month). I am still awaiting approval. So I worry, when they do approve it, will the MRI company take payments? I am sure the disability payments will catch up eventually, but in the meanwhile we have zero income. I have been selling quite a few aprons, one or two a week, but how does two people survive financially on that meager $60 a week? I am blessed that the person whom I rent from is not going to kick me out (at least not yet, as far as I know), but I use what we get to eat, buy toilet paper: basics. It doesn’t pay for the blood work I need to have done before my regular MD will refill my diabetes medications. They ran out this week.

I was reading this article by Mir Kamin, Facing The Holidays During Financial Crisis, and I realized that I wasn’t really worried about the holidays. Even with all the other worries on my mind, I haven’t been letting it get me down. I just keep pushing through each day. I get a little down when the mail comes each day and there is no response from SSDI regarding Mr. Vixen’s ruling. Mostly I get angry about it because they said it would be about 30 days and it’s already been 90. Still, I get over it all and move through; doing what I can to stay upbeat and survive. Mir’s article reminded me of the really lean years when our kid’s were younger. How much I worried Christmas would be ruined for them. I am not much about getting gifts, but I really do love to give them. Reading the article reminded me that I have one less thing to worry about during this difficult time because my children are all adults now. I don’t have to explain, they already know. It’s a blessing really, to know that I can enjoy the season without the worries.

So the point of this long winded (and possibly confusing) post was that I didn’t know what to post because there just isn’t much happening. And I wouldn’t care about not posting, except that I value the interaction I get online and that I am trying hard to learn about marketing myself (ApronFrenzy) and making connections and I worry that I might miss out on opportunity when it knocks. And then my phone rang.

It was my mother, asking if I had talked to Great. I had, about a week ago, but not about what my mother was calling regarding. You see, Great made a decision not to talk to people about this matter for now because of the season. The matter being:  last week, my grandmother (aka Great) had a follow up mammo which discovered a large dense mass in her remaining breast. Long time readers will know that Great is a survivor of breast cancer (and lymphoma) and has been breast cancer free since her partial mastectomy and chemo treatment in 2003. Today she went for an MRI to further diagnose this new mass. We await results.

And, suddenly, I just want boring back. I want to have nothing to write here except to post new aprons I’ve made this week. I want to worry about finding some media guru to take me under their wing and help me market enough aprons to buy Christmas dinner. I want to go back to worrying about the same mundane crap that I worry about everyday, so don’t bother writing about. I want boring back, I’d even take mundane. But I won’t allow that wordthatbeginswithc back. I just won’t. And if the power of positive thinking has any power at all? Then I’ve got that aced.

Someone Stole My Halloween Decorations

Can you believe that? Someone stole the head off my Halloween decoration right outside my front window. It has been stolen head signthere since the 2nd, and was stolen last night between midnight – 6 am. I just think that is so very, very rude. They even took the pole that was holding up the body?! Why did they need that? I needed that, it was the telescoping part of my window cleaner. It has put me in a nasty mood this morning. Grrrrr.

Thank heavens, there is something cheery going on to distract me. I have a giveaway that just started running today over at the Apron Goddesses. You have a chance to win TWO aprons and there are even some details about how to get a discount (woo hoo). Head on over here, to this entry, for details. Who knows maybe I’ll earn enough to replace the head on my decoration? (But don’t worry, if I do I will bring them in at night so LOSERS don’t take them again).

On an unrelated note, but also very cheery my lovely grand-dog Bubbles started walking yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, it appears my belief (obviously not the doctors) that it was just swelling from the injury and not permanent paralysis was right. To give credit where credit is due, I have to tell you all I could not have done this without the lovely emergency care ideas, hydrotherapy idea, and fantastic ongoing support from the fabulous Sara (@heartmychloe) at TomTheGirl. Without her caring and support during these last eight days, poor Bubbles may have suffered a more permanent injury. Thanks Sara. And dear Bubbles, keep resting until you are all the way better, it’s gonna take time, but I know you missed your girls so I am glad you got to go home last night.

Not Much To Cheer About Tuesday

Congratulations to Yoga Witch who won the custom apron from ApronFrenzy at Mrs. B’s giveaway yesterday. If you didn’t win, please take a look at the available aprons for sale. Also stay tuned very soon for another giveaway of a custom apron over at ApronGodessess (anticipation much?)

On the home front, there isn’t much good news. Although the 30 days has progressed, we still have no word on the final disposition of Mr. Vixen’s SSDI hearing. It has been 33 days now (not that I am counting).

On an even sadder note, while dog-sitting Bubbles (who is Ladybug’s service dog in training) he somehow hurt himself on Saturday. By Sunday morning he was dragging his legs. By Monday morning, when we visited the vet he appears to have loss of feeling in both his back legs and no movement. The vet believes it is a herniated disc. She is not very hopeful about recovery, but is also not willing to give up hope yet. He is a very young and an otherwise healthy dog so we just have to give it time. I believe since he wasn’t paralyzed at the immediate time of when he somehow hurt himself (he was in the backyard by himself, no one saw what happened we just heard him yipping) and since the paralysis came on over time, that it might be swelling from the herniation. Many of you know I suffered a terrible disc herniation in July and had to undergo surgery, so I can certainly identify with Bubbles’ issues.

We used every single penny we had to get him the treatment we could (thanks to some twitterers who bought aprons for that very purpose). Obviously we can’t afford to get the myelogram to see if surgery is needed so we are on a course of steroids and antibiotics and crossing our fingers and toes. I have to help him empty his bladder, but he knows when he needs to poop and let’s me know so I can carry him out. There is some worry that he could get sores on his legs from dragging them, so I am trying to figure out a way to crochet something to protect them until he gets better (can’t afford to buy them, so if you have a pattern idea let me know!). As I said, we used every last penny we had for the visit and meds (actually I was short $3.37, but they said they would bill me, wasn’t that kind of them?), and we will still need some more meds (not to mention carpet cleaning solution). I made the choice to use our food money, because Ladybug is that important to me and I believe he deserves a chance. I encourage you to visit ApronFrenzy and tell everyone you know about it, as all money made there will go to his care.

I am off to give Bubbles some hydrotherapy and help him empty his bladder. All positive thoughts, prayers, well wishes and anything else you can think of is greatly appreciated. Ladybug will be home from her dad’s sister’s wedding on Wednesday and I hope there is some improvement by then. The vet thinks it could take up to a month though, so I guess I am hoping for a miracle.

“The status quo sucks”

The hearing is complete. And we know nothing more than when we went in there. Wait, that is not true. We now know (because a vocational expert told us so), that Mr. Vixen can work. He meets the ‘so-called’ requirements, physically and vocationally, to perform the job of cuff folder. And, according to the expert, there are 500+ cuff folder jobs in the state of California. There are no current openings and we don’t know where in the state they are, but those things are not taken into consideration when giving expert vocational testimony.

All the records are in, all the testimony is given and all we can do now is wait for her decision. We should be notified of the decision (I am not holding my breath) within the next 30 days. Our lawyer says one of three things could happen: 1) She grants him disability, 2) She denies him disability or 3) She states he can do sedentary work only i.e., cuff folder (which denies him disability now, but may qualify him for disability at age 50-in two years-if he doesn’t improve and does not work for the next two years). The new, unimproved me, calculates those as bad odds. The old me, who had a much more positive attitude, discounts an outright denial (it is their doctor that said he can only do sedentary work) and says the odds are 50/50. I have those two little ‘me’ people, one sitting on either shoulder, yelling those odds in my ears.

I am going to find some ear plugs for the next 30 days.

As A Stranger Holds My World In Her Hand

Three years ago, August 31, 2006, my husband had an episode. The results of which (after thousands of dollars I spent after insurance) were they didn’t know what happened. He would pass out. He couldn’t move without becoming dizzy. His blood pressure plummeted and stayed low normal, even though he had high blood pressure and had been taking medication for years. He was unable to work. He developed crippling anxiety and paranoia. He became so depressed, we actually became afraid we would lose him. His knees were shot. After the one year of state disability was exhausted the only improvement was in his depression. The rest, most especially his knees became worse. He had several surgeries which were not helpful or successful. We applied for long term disability.

In the last three years we have been denied SSDI three times. We began our final appeal (a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge) one year ago. We tried to hire lawyers three times. One finally agreed to look at our case in January, but has not done a single thing for us. Just before this lawyer took our case, we had our first hearing with the judge, which she postponed so we could find a lawyer to take our case. The postponement was supposed to be a month or two. We finally were re-scheduled for a hearing today, nine months later.

Today it will finally end. One way or the other. My mom says even if we don’t get it, we aren’t any worse off than we are now, but I don’t believe that is true. It is true that my husband’s income was 60% of our household income and doing without it for the last years has been extremely difficult. There was an entire year when I worked two full time jobs, before I become so exhausted I couldn’t handle it. We had to give up our home of 10 years. We lived in an RV. We have been evicted, turned out for collections, had liens placed against us, owe thousands of dollars, been on food stamps, and are on MediCal. I have had to beg for money to eat. Not exactly the future we had worked hard for the last nearly 30 years. But, as mom says, we are already at the bottom.

The problem is, if he is denied, we lose hope. For all these years, we had hope. Hope that he would have some small amount of income from SSDI. Hope that it would be enough for us to sustain a bare minimum existence. Hope that he wouldn’t have to feel like he couldn’t contribute anymore. Hope we could pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and climb back up.

A stranger, a judge, holds our hope in her hands today. I can’t say I have much faith in the system anymore. I want to, but I just can’t anymore.

Here goes nothing and everything.

I See The Storm Gathering

I see the storm approaching this time. No surprises, I think. Before we were unprepared, we didn’t even know what had hit us at first. We were blind sided and knocked out cold. But now, the skies have cleared a bit and I can see the storm coming. Relentlessly, it bears down upon me and I watch as it hits the rickety repairs we have made around our hearts. I stand, transfixed, as it rips at the foundation we have laid in the last year. I want to run and hide. I want to find a shelter where it cannot touch us. I want to be like the eagle, I really do.

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

Old grief, new grief. Grief that never left for some. New scars, old scars. Wounds ripped open and new ones being created. I want to fly above it all, yet I want to be there. In the middle of the storm. Passing sandbags to shore up weak hearts. Boarding up the windows on our souls. Mopping up the torrential downpour so no one slips and falls into the abyss. Collecting blankets to keep us warm during the flood of pain. Handing out first aid supplies to stave of infections of the heart. Building shelters to minimize destruction of our psyches.

Or just…..

Turning back time, so it never came.

Endlessly, it seems, the storm crashes over us. I cannot see where we are headed, but I know if we just hang on we may find the light on the other side of the clouds. I’ll just keep them moving along with me. After all, the storm will blow itself out eventually…..

I hope.

And Collin, I know you are in heaven watching us fumble along through this and I love you.

A post from Vixen’s daughter

Hi, all. This is Shannon (AKA Nannygoat), Vixen’s daughter. She called me @ 11:40 tonight because it is “very important” to update her peeps on the goings on for the next few days. So, I am up now giving an update. Teehee.

We made it home at about 11:30 last night from our trip. This morning, she woke up with excruciating back pain (this back thing has been going on for a while) but, she couldn’t take it anymore so she had my dad (I forgot my mom’s super-secret name for him…Oh wait, Mr. Vix was that it?) I dunno…moving on. She had Mr. Vix take her to the ER this morning.

They gave her an MRI and decided she needed surgery. When I asked my mom what the surgery was for she mumbled Dr. type lingo at me which to me was just as bad as listening to my dad rattle on about radiator caps and fuel injectors. She said needed bilateral L4-5 partial Laminectomy & a L4 L5 Discectomy

ENGLISH VERSION: She has a Herniated Disc.

She’s been admitted and her surgery will start a 7:30 am.  She will be in the hospital for about 3 days. I will try to keep you posted! Wish her well and leave her lots of nice comments to come home to, please!

-Shannon

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