Monday, February 19, 2007

Catching Up, Part 2: The Return Of Drama

NEW YEARS EVE/DAY (a.k.a. The Return Of Chuck)

At some point around Thanksgiving, maybe a bit beforehand, I'd started to slide back into bad old habits, and my food and drink intake went to hell in a hand basket. A few months with absolutely no follow-through from my late-May drama had me feeling young, invincible and, as it turns out, pretty stupid.
This is not Chuck.
We had spent the evening at my parents house playing a newfangled DVD game and generally having a relaxing time, and it wasn't until we got back home that I started feeling what I thought was a nasty gas bubble forming in my lower gut. A couple of hours passed, and the discomfort gradually morphed into waves of searing pain. I made a run to Walgreens at a bit past 5 A.M. on New Year's Day, but the procured pills did absolutely nothing to cure what felt like a cartoonishly distending abdomen. That is when I knew that this was no gas bubble: about six weeks of eating absolute crap and washing said bilge down with little but carbonated beverages apparently was enough to get my kidneys royally pissed off for a second time, and my already-forgotten old friend Chuck had decided to pay me a New Year's Eve visit.

This time, things went a bit differently than they did last May, but not differently enough. Despite my best efforts to tough it out and try to get the damned thing(s) to pass over an endless 12-hour period, I still wound up in the emergency room. This time, we headed to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield, which is a longer drive from here than LakeWest, but was also a far different experience all the way around: if you wipe away the fact that I was crumpled up in a ball of suffering, it was a much more pleasant atmosphere than the rather cold and aloof feeling I had in Willoughby last May.

Thankfully, my stay at Hillcrest was also much shorter than at LakeWest (I was walking out of there about 2 hours after being admitted), which, of course, didn't change the final bill tally all that much. $3600, said the bill, of which a whopping $2600 (!!) was for being CAT-scanned twice (which, if memory serves, was about 5 times more than it cost for me to be wheeled into a similarly gargantuan Donut Of Doom at LakeWest). Yeeeeahhh. We'll be discussing that on the phone a bit with whoever is in charge of accounts receivable very shortly ...

So, true Drama has returned to my existence with a grand entrance: but this time not as a result of random shit luck, but largely because I was an utter clod. This was a very expensive lesson.


A bit more drama at work, but it's hard to tell as of now if it's for us or for the industry as a whole. At a month and change into 2007, the music industry is already down a terrifying amount from last year's pace: enough so that the chances of everybody catching up over the next 3 months (let alone 6) are looking rather daunting, to say the least. Ouch. The possibility of the deficit vanishing is made even bleaker by dint of a truly weak new release schedule that will pervade into March, and the fact that nothing from the truly godawful 2006 fourth quarter slate has shown any kind of staying power whatsoever.

That said, it is with a bit of trepidation that I announce that our sales are down a slight bit as well, but only by a ~5% margin instead of the industry-wide 15%. This dubious good news prompted the amusingly optimistic assessment of "so, you mean we are up 10%?" from Greg earlier this month. I suppose that is the best way to look at it, eh?

On the horizon, there are still a few developments that will have to be addressed before The Drama dies down to its usual background dull roar: I have to get the car successfully E-checked sometime between now and the middle of June (a task that you might remember caused me no end of heartache and fury the last time I had to tackle it), suddenly it seems that every damn thing I eat gives me heartburn (or "acid reflux" or whatever they call it these days), Inspector Scene is still unhappy enough with our bathroom electrical outlet that he has been here twice and still wants it fixed to his satisfaction (this has our landlord pretty pissed off, as does another sticking point concerning a leaky water shut-off valve behind the half-bathroom), at some point I'm going to need to visit my dentist, and an unusually complicated (and expensive) tax-time for me has arrived at last. Wheee!

Money will be tight for a bit no matter what happens: I've decided that I'm going to pay off my new hospital bill off piecemeal at my own pace (hopefully after Hillcrest and I reach some kind of compromise on the total, if that is possible). This will certainly pinch for a while, but I'm looking at this process more as penance for being a moron and getting myself back into this mess when I should have learned my lesson the first damned time. The rest of the above will be addressed as time permits ... the line is getting a bit long to handle them all at once, you know?


Finally, I will end this lengthy update with some upbeat news: I've been completely cold turkey from the smokes since December 31, and I'm hoping to have finally kicked this thing in the ass once and for all. Seriously.

Yes, I've been here before (a glance at this post brings back the last time I attempted this feat), but never before with a law to keep me honest: this past Election Day saw the passage of a statewide measure that bans smoking indoors in all public areas effective back around December 7 of last year. For about a month, we smokers cheated at work by moving the ashtray to the bathroom and doing our puffing out of the sight of customers, but I knew eventually that I would have to take the next step, and New Year's Eve (as always) seemed a great time to try again, with the reappearance of Chuck that very night making my resolution quite a bit easier to make.

By now, the physical cravings are largely gone, though I'll still feel The Jones at odd times (like after eating a Jersey Mike's Club Sub), and that is easily dealt with by chewing a stick of sugarless gum. No sweat. What is a bit weirder is that I dream of smoking nearly every night now, and the dreams are so realistic that I actually the old not-quite-lightheaded relaxed sigh after sucking on my discorporeal cig. Luckily, I wake up from these dreams with no urge to have a drag, so I guess I can't complain that I'm being a very bad boy while asleep.

Aside from the willpower, another factor that keeps me clean is the math. I was a Marlboro man, and at four bucks and change a pack, I figure that I've already saved over 200 dollars, which is money I am setting aside specifically for Hillcrest bill payments (might as well put this new wealth to good use, eh?). At this rate, assuming I stay clean, I will have saved nearly a grand and a half by next New Year's Eve. Not too shabby.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there! I've been clean myself since September 1st and I also went cold turkey. I truely believe this is the only way. Big Red helps a great deal, something about the spicy bite takes the edge off. Oh, and ice cream...lots and lots of ice cream!!

Miss you Vic - Theresa Kish Harvey

April said...

Even though I officially quit a few years ago (in 1994 and 2001), I found myself slipping into "social smoker" status. Always when drinking. I bought a pack last September and another again in March. I enjoy the act of smoking and the headrush*, but mainly I enjoyed the feeling that I'd *worked* for it, that it was something I could do when I was on vacation or really relaxing. On these occasions, I would splurge and buy American Spirits or similar 100% additive free products, spending the $7.85 or whatever it was for a pack.

In the end, I'm still an addict. The desire never fully goes away, but don't let yourself slip, not even once for a couple of years, or all that hard work will be for naught.

As for you, I have no doubt that you'll be fine. Hang in there. :-)

*The absence of a headrush was when I realized that my body was becoming dependent on the nicotine and how I knew I'd have to quit again. That sucked knowing that.