RSS

Category Archives: writing

Promotion For Glitch In The Machine

1501836_10202321515431725_566580844_n

Author photo courtesy of Aline Hernandez…

Having realized that most blogs people read are either about sports, politics, science or how to get others to read your blog I have given up the fantasy that anyone will read this, but I will continue this forum anyway despite such drawbacks. And what the hell, right? Can’t hurt. So without further adieu here is my latest post, announcing my newest book, the Sci/Fi speculative fiction masterpiece ‘Glitch In The Machine’. This book will be available in May as an ebook on Amazon.com, followed by the print edition in the summer of 2014. Here is the hook:

In an era of mandatory health insurance, why are everyone’s claims being denied?

It’s 2025 and America is a shell of it’s former self, staffed by a puppet government run by overseas despots and dictators. Big business has taken over, in particular health insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and weapons manufactures. The population is now divided between the 99%’ers and the 1%’ers, with food, drug and product testing no longer a part of the government’s social programs. In fact, there are no social programs anymore; government involvement has come to a standstill, defeated by their overlord’s crushing greed. For the 99%’ers this a nightmare world of unregulated food and drugs, one in which they are legally required to have health insurance if they wish to see a doctor, but inevitably will find their health insurance claims are regularly denied because of various ‘technicalities’. Enter Floyd Jasper, a hired killer trained by the 1% wealthy elite to sniff out fraudulent health care claims submitted by the impoverished 99%’ers and initiate a termination sequence…on their lives, that is.
His job, should he choose to accept it (and he did, oh hell yeah) is to mete out justice as he sees fit in a hail of bullets or a well-placed twist of his bone handled ‘killing knife’. He is good at what he does, a veritable one-man extermination machine, but eventually time runs out on his maniacal ways and soon the hunter becomes the hunted.
Accepting aid from a well-endowed, blood thirsty co-worker, they embark on an inquest to find out who wants him dead, only to become immersed in a world of suicide cults, megalomaniacal military leaders, population control demolitions experts and, ultimately, find he is to be groomed as the second coming of ‘Christ’ in a no holds barred, winner takes all battle royal of the classes. The 99%’ers versus the 1%’ers in a version of ‘Occupying Wall Street’ that the world has never known.
At times comically upbeat, at turns tragically brutal, Glitch In The Machine is a roller coaster, whirlwind of a novel that never pauses long enough for the reader to catch their breath. The first person narrative is reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk, and was written from a ‘Vonnegutian’ point of view, intended for audiences who enjoyed his work, as well as that of Anthony Burgess. Glitch In The Machine is Clockwork Orange meets The Terminator with a dash of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Bladerunner thrown in for good measure.
Look for it on Amazon.com as early as May 2014!

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , ,

2013 Frankfort Book Fair, y’all!

894435[1]

This blog has been about many things over the last year ever since it’s inception: funny and tragic pet sitting stories, personal health issues, rants about bad California drivers, crappy, crazy jobs I’ve had, classic alcoholic writers, pissing and moaning about moving from the west coast back to the Midwest…I’ve covered a lot of ground since I’ve been writing this. The blog was started because of a suggestion made by Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, a literary promotional company. She told me it would be a great way to promote my novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. But the thing is, I’d never quite understood what people read blogs for, and found that the different subject matter I touched upon was hit or miss. Looking around throughout the blog world, I found people wanted sports and news and politics and hard facts, not necessarily silly stories about animals or being inappropriately wasted in a Von’s grocery store and getting into it with the guy outside collecting money for the Salvation Army, subsequently arrested and then getting anally raped in jail by a six foot six black man named Michael Jackson. But be that as it may, I am pressing on. I suppose I could make this entry a rant about how hard it is to push a self-published book to a saturated market where traditionally published authors are fighting to gain ground, about how much money I’ve spent and seen no return on my investment (over $12,000 and counting), or how my novel is actually well written over that of the 299,000 other crappy self-published authors who are churning out zombie novels at a pace that is beyond ridiculous (anyone ever hear of Dave Moody? Hater’s and then his Autumn zombie series? Jesus Christ give me a fucking break (parenthesis within a parenthesis he is NOT self-published)!). Yes, I could go on and on and you (all of my three readers) would think that I am jealous, that I am a bad writer who is blowing off steam making fun of authors who make it onto the bestseller list and don’t have to pay to publish their own work. The fact is you might be right.
So I’ll switch gears here and talk about my latest attempt at publicity: I have my book registered and being presented both in soft cover and ebook at the 2013 Frankfort Book Fair, the largest literary event in the known universe. Folks from all over the world (over 300,000, a quarter of them members of the media) gather in Frankfort, Germany to see what the latest and greatest trends in literature are. Who’s going to be the next Stephen King, the next J.K. Rowling? Inquiring minds want to know! Even better, what the hell are those two promoting as we speak (a sequel to The Shining and a thriller, respectively)? Yes, all in all a bonafide HUGE ASS event in which my novel will be stacked amongst thousands of others in the Combined Book Exhibit bookshelves, vying for attention both in print and digital copy. And will I get any attention, this absolutely fantastic book that has so far been virtually ignored? A novel Kirkus Indie reviews called ‘Visually engaging, an irrefutably intoxicating adventure’ and ‘one big, bad-ass book’ by Kat of Bibliobabes.ca, not to mention many readers on Goodreads and Amazon.com. Every time I do a free give away I run out well before the posted closing (but I am not stupid; I’ve found SEVERAL copies immediately for sale on Amazon, listed as ‘autographed’…fucking pricks).
As no one is clamoring for this blog I can say whatever I want here. I can cuss and scream and shout and call you all a bunch of pussy faggots for not buying my book and it doesn’t matter (although I do apologize to my three readers; I am not talking about you). Because in a world full of books we, the unknowns, can only keep competing for your attention and hoping that we eventually get it. That one day it will click and you’ll say to yourself: “Holy shit! His autobiographical stuff is like David Sedaris and his horror fiction is like Stephen King. I love those fucking writers! Where have you been all of my life?”
And the answer would be: right here, sitting in front of this fucking laptop and begging you cocksuckers to at least read a free excerpt (available on my website http://www.edgarswamp.com or at Bookbuzzr (also known as Freado) or on Goodreads). It is literally everywhere. If you looked hard enough you’d find the whole copy for free somewhere (don’t ask me where, but I know it’s out there. I do a lot of stupid things when I’m drunk, just ask my neurologist).
But readers don’t want good books, they want tired crap churned out by hacks who need money to buy fourth homes in Stockholm, Sweden where they can hide inside by the fire and secretly burn journals they kept while in community college in Andover, Michigan where they had unprotected sex with minors and never got caught because their parents where on the board of review and the city council…
Yet I digress. My book is at the 2013 Frankfort Book Fair in Frankfort, Germany where I hope someone fucking sees it and picks it up, flips through it and reads something that catches their eye (if indeed I haven’t been scammed by Combined Book Exhibits and the book isn’t really there). And then maybe they’ll contact me through my website and ask to see my next book, ‘Denied’, a futuristic take on the American health care system (available in paper back and ebook in April of 2014). And soon enough people will be willing to pay to read this fucking blog but I’ll continue to give it away for free because I’m such a nice guy. Really, honest. Trust me…and buy my fucking book ($2.99 ebook for fuck’s sake available through Amazon.com). Thank you (and sorry to my three readers!).

 

Tags: , , , ,

Give me Whiskey or Give Me Death; a tribute to Charles Bukowski

Bukowski

In an effort to remain true to this blog’s original plan I am now going to write about previous jobs I held, the crazier and more ridiculous the better. If there are many folks out there who enjoyed the writing of Charles Bukowski, this blog is for you. For those of you who have never heard of him, he was an American writer who found notoriety writing for the L.A. Free Press in the 1960’s, a column called Notes Of Dirty Old Man. He later found fame writing several books about jobs he worked, one called Factotum (later made into a movie starring Matt Dillon) and Post Office. In fact the latter was his first published book, having written it for a publisher named John Martin who believed so strongly in Bukowski’s ability to spin a good yarn that he offered him $200 a week to write so that he could quit his job. Writing about what he knew best (drinking and working for the United States Post Office) he was surprised to see that it did well enough that he was able to publish several more novels (for they were marketed as ‘fiction’) and garnered a rather eclectic audience around the world. He was especially beloved in Europe, but he made a splash in America as well. He wrote the movie ‘Barfly’ (based on his own life) starring Mickey Roarke and Faye Dunnaway.
So that is the new focus of my blog: all the crazy, crappy, preposterous jobs I’ve worked over the course of the last thirty years while pursuing my creative endeavors. Like Bukowski, I am a college dropout and enjoy the occasional beer or ten, but unlike Bukowski I was never a very good fighter yet I was never unwilling to ‘go’ if it indeed became necessary. I also traveled a lot and ended up in some rather compromising situations. I’ll also embellish a bit in some of these tales, as he was known to do. Rest assured they are rooted in reality, but sometimes you have to stretch them a little to get the desired effect. All that said, here is a short one since I’ve already taken up this much of your time: Hotlanta in the summer or Give me Whiskey or give me death, a tribute to Charles Bukowski.
The year was 1994. Kurt Cobain had killed himself in the garage of his Seattle home and the new Woodstock would prove to be a bust, as the grunge generation was a surlier, more unpredictable lot than their predecessors. Artists like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains and Beck were topping the charts while smaller bands like Mudhoney and Monster Magnet were making the rounds, keeping things afloat until they later found fame (Monster Magnet) or they dissolved into an historical footnote (Mudhoney). I was living in a warehouse in an area called Little Five Points in Atlanta, Georgia, having moved there from Raleigh, North Carolina after I got the boot from a band called Motherload. I’d been their lead singer (and chief purchaser of alcohol because they were all nineteen to my twenty-three) but they eventually had enough of my drunken shenanigans and sent me packing after I picked up the lead guitarist during a gig at a packed pool hall in Raleigh and tossed him into the crowd. He was mad because 1) they didn’t catch him, they instead ran out of the way and 2) because his Gibson Les Paul got ruined in the process. I couldn’t really say I blamed them. I was drunk and on drugs most of the time back then, in fact one of my favorite pastimes was driving around the triangle area drinking malt liquor and smoking weed and taking acid and going wherever the wind blew me. Suffice it to say I met a lot of strange people, some of whom thought I was the strange one. Go figure.
In Atlanta I held several jobs, but the first one I worked was selling school supplies for a shady company called Pacific and Atlantic Wholesalers, a telemarketing outfit that violated just about every law you can imagine when it came to consumer fraud (overpriced, crappy merchandise, hidden fees, broken promises regarding free bonus items with every order etc. etc. etc.) run by a man so crooked he made the Enron presidents seem like portraits of American stability. He’d sit behind his desk cleaning automatic weapons and snorting white powder off his desk blotter, every now and then venturing onto the sales floor to holler: “Let’s get a hum going men!” or “I hope you get stuck in traffic and don’t have a forty ounce can to piss in!” if he was upset that we weren’t making enough sales. Sometimes he said even cruder things like: “Shut up bitch or I’ll fill your mouth full of sperm!” or “Shut your pie hole or I’ll fill your corn hole!” Despite all this ranting lunacy the surprising thing was we actually made sales, lots of them. We were cold calling schools all over the greater continental United States and asking to speak with whomever did the purchasing for the school store. When they were put on the phone we then stroked their egos and smooth talked them into buying grosses upon grosses of shit they didn’t need, all of it cheap, easily breakable garbage. Notebooks with bindings that came unglued the first time you opened them up, pens with barely any ink in them that ejected what little there was in a puddle all over the page, pencils that snapped in half if you looked at them funny and so on. Yet we all made sales (some of us to a greater or lesser degree) and some weeks I made enough money to cover all my bills for a month.
It was in the middle of a heat wave in August that the air conditioning went out and, to keep us working, the owner, Cliff, bought us several gallons of whiskey and a quarter ounce of blow, encouraging us to help ourselves. He didn’t have to ask me twice. Within a few hours I wasn’t sure what the hell I was saying to people over the phone, all I knew was that I wasn’t making any sales. When I’d had enough, I snorted another large pile of coke, slammed a giant shot of whiskey, announced I was ‘getting the fuck out of here!’ and got in my car. I don’t remember driving home, all I remember is arriving and getting into it with my drug dealer roommate. I was sick of he and his friends keeping me up at night, partying into the wee hours when I was trying to sleep off a drunk, and I decided this was the time to air things out. Well, one of his thug buddies was there too, and between the two of them they easily restrained me and proceeded to ‘convince’ me that I was in the wrong. They were quite persuasive, let me tell ya, and the next day at work I looked like I’d gone a few rounds with Floyd Mayweather with my hands bound behind my back. To make matters worse the owner called me into his office.
“You left early yesterday,” he scolded, not even mentioning my beaten-to-a-pulp-face; he was too busy using a large hunting knife to shave a mole off his back. “I don’t think you’re taking this job seriously.”
I looked at him incredulously. “Taking the job seriously?” I repeated, trying hard to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. “What’s not to take seriously?”
“You don’t come and go as you please. The manager has to authorize it.”
As I recalled the manager had been under his desk when I left, wearing nothing but black, ankle high socks and muttering something about the impending apocalypse while he drooled over a photo of Ms. July, but I kept that to myself.
“Yes sir,” I muttered, not wanting to argue. What was the point? “It won’t happen again.”
“Damn straight it won’t.”
“Yes sir.”
“You fucking freeloaders,” he said, dismissing me. “That’s the last time I give out free drugs. None of you assholes made any sales.”
“Not even Kennedy, sir?” Kennedy was the only sober person in the bunch; he never drank nor indulged in anything stronger than coffee.
“Kennedy was sick yesterday.”
“Oh.”
“Now get out there and get a hum going or I’ll-”
“Fill my mouth full of sperm,” I supplied for him. “Got it sir.” I was tempted to salute but I simply turned and left, wondering why I was stupid enough to keep working there. But when I felt the cold blast of the newly fixed ac, and I got that phone in my hands and spun some magic that landed me a twelve hundred dollar commission, I knew why indeed…

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Busting my *ss to make a buck

images[1]

I started this blog ten months ago with the idea of writing funny stories about my pet sitting business, using it as a platform to promote my debut novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. The stories were meant for entertainment purposes only; I wasn’t trying to impart any kind of message. And then, out of the blue, I came down with a neurological disorder and in the blink of an eye my pet sitting business was gone. Having no other recourse, I moved from lovely San Diego back to my home state of Wisconsin. Here I found work in another field entirely, back breaking labor that exhausts me every day, making me realize how easy my pet sitting business was. My point? This blog will either have to be about my pet sitting exploits of the past or I’ll have to think of something else entirely. No one (I think I can say this without dispute) will want to read a blog about the life and times of a landscaper. Oh, I am certain there are people out there that want tips about landscaping, but there are few who would want to listen to me prattle on and on about dumping and spreading wheelbarrows of mulch on primed beds, of mowing lawns at seventy degree angles and shoveling tons of gravel. But don’t get me wrong, I’m being paid very well for my hard work, it’s just that it gives me a lot of time to reflect on what I had. Like the dog walks, this kind of work gives you a lot of time to think. As I’m busting my ass it is easy to wax nostalgic about those carefree dog walks, those cushy pet sitting jobs. As a pet sitter I’d have my laptop set up at a table overlooking the various yards of the various homes, and inevitably I’d see the gardeners (Hispanic, mostly) toiling away in the yards. Sometimes they would see me and I’d feel a bit foolish, that they were out in the hot sun and I’m in the air-conditioned house with the dogs, sitting on my ass, writing. Of course in my mind what I was doing was very important; I was, after all, writing the novel that was ultimately going to save humanity from itself. But how could I explain that without looking like a douchebag? Instead I smiled politely and would occasionally ask them if they wanted something to drink.
In Wisconsin there are still white people that do gardening, so I must insist that I am not insinuating that I feel I am doing work that is beneath me. I am getting paid top dollar for my efforts (more than I’m getting paid as a writer, but a bit less than I was making as a pet sitter) it is just that it is hard work. The hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. But I still get to work outside, and my family lives in Madison, Wisconsin. And the neurological disorder, the sleep twitch that turned everything in my life upside down? Well, it is unfortunately still a part of my life, albeit a manageable part. Gone are the nights of no sleep while I twitched away like I was being electrocuted with a cattle prod. Now I have medications that keep the twitches at bay, and some nights I don’t have to take any medications at all. After doing a sleep study, involving a polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG) the neurologist determined that the problem would go away eventually, but he couldn’t say when. For anybody interested in the subject of hypnic jerks there is a blog called ‘The Man Who Cannot Sleep’. Many people post messages there that have suffered or are suffering from this strange sleeping disorder. They offer advice as to what they do to alleviate their problem, also making suggestions as to possible causes. It is very interesting. I had a doctor in San Diego who had apparently never heard of it; because of his misdiagnosing, my problem got worse before it had a chance to get any better, hence my hasty departure from the wonderful sun soaked state of California and back to the unpredictable rain, snow, mosquitoes and humidity of Wisconsin.
So this blog has been intermittent at best, as I no longer have the generous amounts of time I used to have to write. But I have been hard at work on a new novel, getting up an hour early everyday before work so that I can get in a few thousand words. I suppose once I find my focus on what this blog is supposed to be about I’ll retool it and come back bigger and badder than ever. Maybe I’ll even find a subject that people will actually want to read about. Who knows, stranger things have happened!

 

Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Dairy Land or See Ya San Diego!

cow2[1]

I haven’t updated this blog since June, might have been May, I’m not quite sure. What started as something I updated every week became more and more sporadic as a health problem took over my life, changed everything, and left me to pick up the pieces. The topic of the blog started to take a turn in late March/early February; what started as funny anecdotes about pet sitting became personal rants about various things. Then there were a few posts about my health issue, how a primary care physician mismanaged it and then nothing…tumbleweeds…less than nothing. My life as I knew it completely changed, forcing me to move from sunny San Diego back to rain-soaked Madison Wisconsin (a fine city in its own right but nonetheless very different from what I’d been accustomed to over the last decade) to live with my parents while I figured things out. Here I am, a man in his mid-forties, and a serious sleep disorder forced me to move back to Wisconsin from California to live in my parent’s basement. It’s almost like the set-up to a bad movie produced by Happy Gilmore Productions (no offence dudes). And the town they live in is cow pastureland, cornfields and dairy farms. I moved from the very edge of the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of cheese country.
There are many things I use to console me: 1) I can now watch the Packers play every week during football season 2) My entire family lives here and I do enjoy their company very much 3) Once I get my shit together I can get the f*ck out of here and go back to California. We’ll see how that works out.
I am writing this on the evening before seeing the neurologist to review the results of my polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG). This was a test I’d begged my doctor in Encinitas for but he refused me, telling me it was ‘a pain in the ass’ and that he could figure out my problem without tests. Well, thanks to the neurologist here, we know what I am dealing with (preliminary results were phoned to me right after the test) and that it is nothing life threatening, but what a trial it has been! I’ve been hosting a seemingly endless stream of ‘exaggerated hypnic jerks’, sleep starts that every one has but, in my case, EXAGGERATED. Most people will have a few and then fall asleep. Mine go on all night, every night, nonstop. Just when I am on the verge of sleep: POW! A jerk that shakes my whole body (or just moves my hand, foot, arm, leg, neck, back etc.) waking me up. Shit, I’ve been through this a million times. I’m sort of sick of telling the story.
Irony, that lousy bitch, came in the form of my returning to this lovely manure tainted paradise and the problem seemingly going away. All of a sudden I could sleep without twitching, and I was able to reduce the medication I took nightly. I did the sleep study and it showed I was ‘normal’. Five days later and the twitches came back with a vengeance straight out of the bible. Seriously, they were like electric shocks being sent through me at regular intervals (possibly from a cow prod?). And worse yet, the medication was no longer working! Sleeping pills used to shut them down and now it was barely keeping them at bay. I was jittering and jiving the night away until I was forced to get up because sleep was impossible.
The worst part of the whole ordeal (besides leaving my sunny seaside town and my pet-sitting business and my independence) was having to try and get people to understand my problem. Somebody was forever giving me advice on what they did when they couldn’t sleep. I don’t know how many times I had to tell them: it isn’t that I can’t sleep, this isn’t insomnia! I am jerking more than a prepubescent boy who’s just discovered masturbation! This is a physical problem, not a mental one. Of course, the longer it went on, it became a mental problem; I nearly had a nervous breakdown from lack of sleep. Hence why I came to my parents house and am writing this in their basement, hence why I abandoned a successful business in one of the best cities in America to cut grass and weed flowerbeds.
So, this blog can still be about funny pet sitting stories, no problem there, but I am no longer a pet sitter. In fact, as I alluded in the previous paragraph, I’ve been working as a landscaper for my brother in law’s company. I work much harder now and get quite filthy. Inbred chicks at the BP won’t give me a second glance when I come in reeking of organic compost (read: manure) with circles of dirt lining my neck like jewelry. Writing, well, let’s just say I haven’t been doing a great deal of that. My latest novel is stagnating at around two hundred and five pages and promotional activities for my self-published novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World have screeched to a dead halt, with the exception of the video pitch I submitted to greenlightmymovie.com. I’m not sure if that $40 was well spent, but it was an interesting experience.
Tomorrow I find out what my neurologist (actually, not my neurologist after tomorrow; I had to switch health insurance and my new policy no longer covers him) thinks of this on again, off again problem. Maybe he will do me a favor and give me a lethal dose of barbiturates, like they use to euthanize animals. Put me out of my misery, as it were. Or maybe he’ll just shrug his shoulder and say: “Sucks to be you dude.” Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be worth the two hundred + bucks it costs for thirty minutes of his time, and that bit of advice you can take to the bank. Just don’t take it to mine; the check will bounce. Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

New Reviews For The Gyre Mission

kat

I have waited quite some time to hear what people think of my debut novel The Gyre Mission, and it is with great joy that I see the reviews are not only good, but totally freakin’ great! Check out http://www.kirkusreviews.com to read the praise they heaped upon my disgusting disasterpiece, as well as http://www.bibliobabes.ca to read what the illustrious (and ever amusing) kat thought of it (see photo above of the very lovely and talented kat). In a saturated market where everyone and anyone is publishing a book, there are actually GOOD ones out there. Mine is one of them! For a measly $4.99 you can own the book (ebook) that will be a bestseller by this time next year, and for a lousy $19 you can have the JUMBO paperback. Come on people, I know you can get free ebooks from Kindle but if you have any taste whatsoever you will realize you get what you pay for. As soon as Stephen King tells you to buy my book you’ll do it, won’t you? And then you’ll say to yourself: “Damn, this book is freakin’ awesome! Thanks for cluing me in Stephen!”
I understand it takes a lot of convincing to make a purchase, especially from some jerk-ass you’ve never heard of before with an author photo that looks like a mug shot, but simply read the free preview and see for your self if the writing is any good. And leave me some feedback. Tell me what you don’t like about it and I’ll send you something free (like a bag of burning shit!). Tell me you like it and I’ll autograph the cup I used to wear in football and send you that (limit one per household). As casual readers you have choices, millions and millions of choices. Do you want to continue giving your hard earned money to writers who’ve sold their souls for the corporate dollar (please contact me if you know who to sell my soul to) or do you want to take a chance on an unknown who might someday be seen in your town, wearing an orange jumpsuit and picking up trash alongside the road? Don’t answer too quickly, take your time. And remember, strangers are simply friends you haven’t made yet, but don’t trust them with your children or the keys to your car! Peace!

 

Tags: , , ,

Mis-diagnosis of a man already on the edge

images[2] (2)

It has been several weeks (maybe a month) since I have posted a blog; for all practical purposes it seems I have fallen off the face of the earth. In fact, I have done just that. In March I posted a blog entitled ‘To sleep, perchance to dream’ in which I described a sleep disorder that had been plaguing me. The disorder, as I’d explained it, was right as I am about to fall sleep one of my hands, feet, arms, legs, elbow, neck, whole body, etc. twitches, awakening me. This goes on all night. Seriously, when I try to go to sleep, the moment my body relaxes, I twitch and am fully awakened. To say ‘this sucks’ is truly an understatement, but what’s worse is/was the treatment I received from my primary care physician, a doctor I’d seen only twice previously for an unrelated matter. This self-important asshole didn’t listen to me; I told him what I was experiencing and he concluded (after a brief, basic neurological assessment) that I was bi-polar. This was all in my head, he told me. Possibly I needed a medication called Seroquel, something to even me out. I probably ran around like a maniac for several days, he postulated, excited and hyper, and then I’d crash and become slow and unresponsive for the next few days. No, I told him, that was not the case. Sure it is, he said, ignoring me.
Now, I’d already been prescribed trazadone and lorazapam from an urgent care facility, meds I was taking for sleep at the time of that visit. I’d gone to them, desperate, after four nights without sleeping, and they were kind enough to listen and give me something. I took the meds, slept, and made the appointment for a week later with my doctor (the soonest I could get in). The disappointment I felt when he told me it was psychological was profound, but by that point the efficacy of the two drugs were vastly reduced so I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I should have. In other words, I believed him. Two days later, after having not slept at all, I decided I needed some tests. I called an MRI center and made an appointment. I couldn’t get in without my doctors referral, of course, so I then called his office and asked to be referred. I admit I was doing things backward, but what the hell, I didn’t know the procedure. I’ve been gifted with having good health the majority of my life. There was a definite learning curve going on. After waiting all day, a game of cat and mouse (me chasing after them, they answering my questions elusively, implying that it was all right, that they would fax over my info but not doing so) I called the clinic and they told me to come in, that my doctor’s office promised to send the records. I was on the table when the doctor’s office called and said they refused to refer me. Crestfallen I left, and his male nurse called me. He told me that we all get twitches right before sleep and I just had to learn how to relax. He recommended I do deepbreathing excercises, acupuncture treatments and take medical marijuana. I was so distressed and muddled that I took him up on all three. I made an appointment for acupuncture (not knowing if my health insurance would cover it or not-they don’t, it turns out) and went there the next day and got my medical marijuana card to the tune of $50. I then purchased $180 worth of liquid THC, edibles and a smokable that was supposed to knock you out cold. After one application I discovered smoking was out of the question; it made the twitches 100 times worse. The liquid THC was no better; it made me drowsy but couldn’t get me past the twitches like a prescription sleep aid. At my own best judgment I decided not to eat the brownie. Disappointed anew, I found another doctor online and made an appointment to get a second opinion. I picked a doctor based on how quickly he could see me, not on his credentials, and for this I paid dearly. It turned out he was an even bigger ass. Without anything other than a brief physical assessment he decided I was suffering from depression. The twitches were all in my head, he told me, and I should seek the care of a psychiatrist. I left his office with mixed feelings; I’d been doing everything the doctors told me to do: I’d done the MMJ, I’d had the acupuncture (only one treatment, all together I;d do two) but still nothing worked. I still had the trazadone (I’d stopped taking the lorazapam when I got down to ten pills because I didn’t want to get addicted and then run out, having read that even two weeks use could cause dependency. Whether that’s right or not is irrelevant; my doctor and the other doctor made it clear they wouldn’t prescribe it to me again, in fact most likely thought I was there seeking more of that particular drug) but it was only working sporadically. I mixed it with benadryl, liquid THC and melatonin, and some nights it still didn’t work. So I went home, got online again, and found a psychiatrist nearby that had availability within the week. Meanwhile, my primary care physician offered a service to his patients that was quite convenient, an email service through his website. Utilizing it, I contacted him and told him I’d gotten a second opinion and that the other doctor didn’t think I was bi-polar, that he thought I was depressed, and I’d made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. In the meantime, I ventured, was there anything he could prescribe for me to help me sleep because the trazadone was wreaking havoc on my system, giving me monstrous diarrhea. He got back to me, said he wasn’t surprised about the other diagnosis, said there was no need to see the psychiatrist, that he could handle my psyche meds himself, and proceeded to prescribed mirtzapine, another anti-depressant in the same class as trazadone but much easier on the digestive tract. I looked up the drug, read all the information about what a wonderful aid it was to sleeping, and was briefly excited…until I tried it. He prescribed a 30mg dose, one I’d find was quite heavy for what I needed. Throughout the entire ordeal I’d researched every diagnosis, every drug. Mirtzapine, I found, was more active for insomnia at lower doses, a quarter of what he recommended. At lower doses it wasn’t an anti-depressant, it was an antihistamine. But the drug was hit or miss; one night it would work, the next it wouldn’t. And the way it made me feel the next day made it entirely worthless. I felt washed out, dizzy, depressed. After four days I contacted him via the website again and told him it didn’t work, that I needed something to fight my symptoms (the twitches), not the side-effect (sleep loss) and he pulled Restless Leg Syndrome out of the hat this time. Gone was the bi-polar, out with the depression, now I had RLS! Ordering no tests to confirm, telling me we could do a sleep study but it would be a terrible inconvenience, he prescribed ropinerole, a medication used for Parkinson’s and RLS. Desperate for anything to work, I decided I’d give it a shot. This decision was made on a Friday, and I couldn’t get the medication until Monday, so I had the weekend to research it. Long story short, by the end of the weekend I was convinced that this was not the right medication, not only because I had none of the symptoms of RLS, but that the side-effects (it would take a week to start working, I couldn’t take any other sleep aids with it, Omeprazole contradicted its efficacy, and it could potentially cause ‘sudden sleep onset’) weren’t worth it. I drive over forty miles a day for my job; the last thing I needed was to fall asleep behind the wheel while doing seventy on the freeway. As it turned out, getting this medication and seeing the psychiatrist fell on the same day, and for that I am entirely grateful. She did a psychiatric evaluation, to which I answered the questions as honestly as I could; I left out how utterly depressed I was simply because the reason for it was the sleep loss and the mis-management of my care. By the end of all her questions she determined I definitely was not bi-polar and that I was not merely suffering from depression. She actually did what the other doctors didn’t: she Googled my symptoms and found links for ‘hypnic jerks’, ‘sleep starts’ and ‘myoclonic twitches’. Reading some of the posts that described in detail what I was telling her, she decided that she would prescribe Lunesta. To say that I was thrilled is being trite; I was nothing short of ecstatic. Finally, a REAL sleeping pill, not a fucking anti-depressant with somnolent properties. I almost kissed her. She gave me some samples and it worked like a charm. At the risk of this blog post being waaaayyyy too long, that unfortunately is not the end of my story. Turns out my health insurance wouldn’t cover Lunesta because it wasn’t available as a generic so I had to get Ambien. For some reason she’d prescribed Lunesta in a 3mg dose (the highest) but Ambien in a 5mg dose (the lowest). The Ambien didn’t work for sour apples. I needed to take four Ambiens, two benadryls, two droppers of liquid THC, and two melatonin to get about four hours of sleep, and sometimes I even added a trazadone. By this time I was truly at the end of my rope. I was suicidal (don’t tell the shrink, she’d have me committed). I was faced with a very tough question: call my parents and ask for their help or kill myself. In the end the choice wasn’t that hard; I called my folks. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am a pet-sitter/dog walker. I’d been carrying on throughout this whole ordeal and none of my clients were aware of the difficulties I was going through, yet meanwhile I was growing more and more despondent. When I was overnight pet-sitting I felt as if I was drowning, trapped. I was anxious, panicked, unable to think what I was going to do next. One morning I was walking a dog I’d been pet-sitting over the course of the week and I found myself plotting my suicide, my method, the note, the day…and that was when I started making phone calls. First I cancelled all of my up coming overnight pet-sitting jobs, then I cancelled all the up-coming visits, and next I cancelled with all of my regulars. I then looked up my health insurance, checked on my out of state coverage, then called my Mom and Dad. Within two hours they had a flight home for me (California to Wisconsin) for the following week. My clients were bummed, but understood that it was for my health, for my own good. Before I left I saw the psychiatrist and she was kind enough to prescribe Ambien CR (12.5mg strength) and a client of mine gave me two weeks of 3mg Lunesta. Between the two I figured I could hold on for a while longer.
As I am writing this I’ve seen a doctor in Madison, Wisconsin, and he was quite surprised at what my primary care physician had done (diagnosing me via emails with no tests, as well as the dose of the ropinerole: 2mg’s when the drug starts at .25mg’s). With his help I have an appointment with a neurologist that specializes in sleep movement disorders and will hopefully be recommended for a sleep study in which they will do a polysomnagraph (a sleep EEG). Via this test it will prove conclusively that the twitches are real, that this hasn’t all been in my head. Hopefully from there they will offer a solution, a treatment that won’t just mask the symptoms. Throughout all of this I’ve realized that the sleep medication suppresses my central nervous system, stopping the twitches. When the medication wears off, they come back. At first I thought the medication was just knocking me out, getting me past them. I’ve had this for so long I’ve been able to study it, to see how it works, and what works on it.
This has been a long ordeal, and presently I am losing money (in more ways than one: I have to pay out of pocket for the acupuncture, probably for some of the tests, I am not working, I’m paying rent for my place and I’m not there etc. etc. etc.) but at last I finally have some hope. My family has been very supportive and with their help I’ve been doing much better as I while away the time until my appointment in three weeks (yes, the neurologist can’t see me until May 20th). I’ve also been doing nothing to promote my novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World and I haven’t posted a blog in a month. So, if anyone reads this, please buy my book. I really need the freakin’ dough! Peace!

 

Tags: , ,