40-odd days left, now. After that, the watchword is WHARRGARBL. Here we go again...

I know, I know, I volunteered. Fine. But the standard deployment rotation is something like 6 months out, 18 months in. But not here. I got here in August 2007, right after we'd returned from a cruise. We went into the shipyard for a while, then I got sent IA to Bahrain. I got sent back from that after a month and some change because of a bad eval (which is its own stupid story), did lots of pre-cruise workups and headed out in August 2008. We returned in April 2009, did more workups and set out again in September '09, until November. Then, after even more workups which often involved 12 to 14 hour workdays, we set out /again/ in January. We're preparing for a rapid turnaround again after getting back. Gimme a break!

But when we mention how ludicrous this all is, what's the command's response? They say that 'single people don't have anything else to do anyway'. Really? What are friends, non-married significant others, personal space, personal time? Chopped liver? They have some minuscule amount of sympathy for married folks, but if you're single, what do you get? You get 'you're a grown-ass man, you don't live with mama anymore and you don't have a wife. What the fuck do you care'. Yeah. Fuck that baloney.

I'm just pissed off at this command right now. They just don't fucking get it and any attempts to make them see the light just result in beatings that will continue until morale improves. I wish I was kidding, and I wish I were using that phrase ironically. I'm not. While they won't put it in quite those terms, it basically amounts to punishing anyone who seems unhappy and ordering them to do the same. Has that ever worked?

Last June my aunt had to come and get me from work after I ate a bite of brownie that contained something I was allergic to. I'm seriously allergic to walnuts and even though they weren't one of the listed ingredients chocolate and nuts often go together so I assumed that was the problem that day. About a week later I had another reaction only this time it was a chocolate chip cookie that did me in. The reaction wasn't too serious however this time I hadn't known that the cookie was resting against another cookie that had walnuts in it.

Both of those episodes were in June, apart from two allergic reactions back in 2006 I hadn't had any problems with food. I chalked both of those experiences up to freak chance and dismissed them until July. One particularly humid morning I ate a bowl of cold cereal after I got back from a walk. About an hour or so later my stomach started hurting. I thought the pain would go away and it did eventually however it was an unpleasant experience to have gone through.

Fast forward a couple of weeks into August. I'm over at my sister's house. I had to work that night because someone else had called in sick. Since I didn't have a lot of time I spread peanut butter on bread, grabbed a banana, a container of yogurt and a handful of baby carrots. My throat felt scratchy about ten minutes after the sandwich. By the time I arrived at work my mouth was puffy and swollen. I made it through the night by popping a couple of Benadryl and my boss would have sent me home early except she wasn't sure it was a good idea for me to be driving.

The rest of August passed without incident. September went well but in the middle of October I had a bad reaction to something when I went out to eat with a bunch of other noders. At the table I wasn't sure if I was going to get sick immediately but I didn't feel well. On the ride back to Wiccanpiper's I started crying and I spent a cold and raw afternoon huddled under a blanket on his porch. The next morning I did feel better but I didn't get much sleep that weekend and unfortunately it wasn't because I was drunk.

My oldest niece was born in November, I still remember that day and hopefully always will. To celebrate her sixth birthday my mom invited my family out to eat. We were having a nice family meal before my food arrived. After my second bite of pancake I thought to myself, this is odd - it feels like I can't breathe. I spent the rest of the meal not feeling well and this is one of the problems with having food allergies - you think you're fine and you're not.

By now I'm wondering what I'm allergic to and why I keep having all these bad reactions. For a long time I thought was peanuts. I came home from work one evening to find my daughters mixing up peanut butter cupcakes. I stayed away from any peanut covered utensils. All I really did was help them stir the batter but that night I had such a bad reaction that I ended up giving myself an Epi-Pen injection.

About a week after the cupcake incident my sister Susan called as I was making supper. Pasta was cooking on the stove, I added broccoli as I talked to my sister about what was going on in her life before she asked me how things were with me and my family. Her theory was that I was allergic to wheat since the past couple of reactions I had had involved pancakes and cupcakes.

While I am aware that people can and do develop new allergies as they age I had been eating wheat products my entire life so I wasn't convinced that my sister knew what she was talking about. The conversation was short since I had to get supper ready but after the first bite of pasta and broccoli went into my mouth I stood in my own kitchen realizing that I could hardly breathe.

After that passed I started thinking about what I had eaten the last time I had a reaction. The cupcakes had peanut butter in them and I'm so allergic to shellfish that I can react to it even if someone else is eating it or a utensil contaminated with it touches my food but I hadn't had a single bite of the cupcakes and I hadn't really stirred the batter either.

Furthermore we had made the cupcakes in the afternoon, I had eaten chicken and noodles for supper and it wasn't until after that meal was over that I got sick. During December I came down with a bad case of shingles. I didn't care that the urgent care visit was going to cost me and the medication that might help decrease the severity of the symptoms was expensive but that was worth it to me.

Before my birthday I decided to try cutting wheat out of my diet to see if that made any difference. My sister Beth wanted me to eat a bite of peanut butter to see if that made me sick but I was afraid of trying that even at home where I had a semi-controlled environment. After the shingles outbreak my skin became ultra-sensitive to the point where wearing clothing hurt.

The tops of my arms and the front of my legs burned with an incomprehensible permanent itch that I could not get rid of. The funny thing about the itch was that if you just looked at my skin it seemed fine. You could feel tiny bumps if you ran your hand over the affected areas and no lotion, topical ointments or hydrocortisone cream did anything to alleviate the pain.

The second week in January I went to a going away party for a co-worker of mine. We went to Applebee's after work, since I was hungry I ordered a steak, a salad and I don't really care for potatoes so I asked if I could have broccoli instead of a potato choice. I felt kind of stupid asking the waitress if there was anything I might be allergic to in anything I ordered.

Our server assured me that the steak wouldn't be marinated in anything and I thought I had been clear about what I was potentially allergic to until my salad came back topped with croutons. I didn't want to send the salad back to the kitchen but by now I was almost terrified to eat anything that might make me sick. The waitress brought the salad back, she apologized for the mix-up and I assumed everything was fine until the restaurant became overly warm and people started asking if I was okay.

That night was another night that I probably shouldn't have driven anywhere. I remember standing outside with the smokers in the bitter Wisconsin weather wondering if I was going to pass out, vomit or both. In the end both fears were unrealized but I felt like garbage the next day. Cutting wheat out of my diet wasn't all that tough since now I was sure that grains were not going to be good for my body. As a nice side effect I lost a lot of weight although some of that was from not feeling well and treating food as if it was going to kill me.

About the only thing that really seemed to help was sitting in the sauna. I've always had problems breathing in the winter. I would go to the Y first thing in the morning, sit in the sauna and maybe walk around the track for a while afterwards. If that sounds pathetic it probably was but I still had the inhumane rash over half my body.

Having a rash like that made the seeminly simple act of getting dressed and walking around in regular clothes torturous. Fortunately February went by fairly quickly, in March I was transferred to the mall I work at now. I celebrated by getting some new clothes and it was a treat when my aunt told me that I looked good in what I was wearing. That day she took me out to eat at the food court.

The meal itself was fine but towards the end of it I started not feeling well. Back at work I waved to my aunt and gave her a hug. About half an hour later I was standing in the bathroom doubled over wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of my shift. Eventually my boss came to find me. He bought me some tea, I took small sips of that and everything stayed down but it was touch and go for a while.

Before that reaction I hadn't had problems with basic foods like chicken and broccoli. A coworker of mine was convinced that I was lactose intolerant after I got sick on a Starbucks smoothie. Someone else told me I had irritable bowel syndrome. One of my sisters suggested that it was stress induced. All or none of those may be true although I'm pretty sure I don't have irritable bowel since I don't fit that profile.

Growing up my parents didn't have a lot of money so going out to eat was always a treat to me. Working at the mall means you're surrounded by temptation, my coworkers would bring in cookies and muffins. Shoe reps would buy us bagels that I couldn't eat and I could have hugged the rep who brought in fresh fruit and granola. 

He also offered to buy us whatever we wanted to drink from Starbucks and you feel stupid turning down free food when everyone else around you is eating treats but I didn't want to chance getting sick at work. Before last June I wouldn't have said that stomach problems were a real issue for me. Since then foods I had been eating my entire life suddenly started bothering me. I ate a handful of gourmet potato chips that made me so sick I had to lie down on the bed for the rest of the evening.

The good news was that during April I noticed that my rash was gone. The tops of my arms were still rough but I no longer wanted to peel a couple layers of skin off when I showered or put clothing on so that was a big improvement over the previous months. Wheat is in common household products like shampoo so I had to go through the bathroom and get rid of everything I couldn't use in there.

The other day I threw out homemade some soup after that made me sick. That night my stomach was killing me but I couldn't figure out what could be in that soup that would make my lower abdomen hurt like that because it was basically corn, beans, potatoes, onions and chicken broth thickened with arrowroot powder. I hate tossing good food down the drain but it was better that than me getting sick eating it.

While I've never been a big pasta or bread fan I do like cereal and trying to find good gluten free cereal isn't as easy as you might think. Today I bought a box of this cereal that I used to get frequently when I was still a member of a local food club. The ingredients were corn flour, oat flour, unsulfered molasses, baking soda and some Vitamin C & E.

Since I was hungry I poured myself a good sized bowl as soon as we got back from the store but before I added milk I picked up a couple pieces of cereal to taste them. I think I ate three or four of them before the back of my throat started feeling funny. A couple minutes later my nose started dripping, my arms burned as I ran to the bathroom for some Benadryl and my stomach didn't start hurting until later but once it did I was down for the rest of the night.

Now that I have better insurance coverage I know I should see an allergist about this. I've been putting it off because I don't want to spend the money and I didn't really like the second to last allergist I went to even though I was a patient of his for years. The allergist I saw after him told me that she wouldn't have continued giving me allergy shots. 

That statement came as a surprise to me and made me like her more after she explained that each reaction gets faster and more severe. For years I took antihistamines just to make it through the day. I'd sit at work with my water and a box of tissues. My nose would spontaneously bleed profusely, I had tremendous sinus headaches and nothing anyone prescribed seemed to clear up the infection or dent the pain.

The last time I went to our regular family doctor no one from the clinic called me back with the results of my strep test. I've never been wild about him and I like my OB but I really need to find a family practioner that all of us can see and who knows my family and our history. Both of my children have seasonal allergies. I know my oldest daughter is allergic to cats and I think she might have something else going on because the tops of her arms are usually mildly bumpy.

While I hate to sound like someone who self diagnoses themselves based on things they read on the internet I'm still up at ten-thirty with pain that hasn't gone away since four o'clock this afternoon. This is all from eating fewer than five pieces of cereal and if you have food allergies you know that you can put something in your mouth, start chewing it and realize it is going to give you grief before it hits your stomach.

Right now I have essentially two options when it comes to healthcare. I can go to Pro-Health which I don't like overall but has a good allergist or I can go to Aurora who has typically been great to our family but has an allergist that I don't care for. Maybe this doesn't sound like a complicated decision but I am really tired of wasting my money at the doctor.

Physician visists are not cheap and I'm fine with them making a lot of money if I get the time and attention I feel that I'm entitled to. When I was in college I went to Children's Hospital for my allergy shots and I am almost tempted to call my previous allergist up and ask him if he'd be willing to take me back as a patient even though he's a pediatric allergist and I'm currently pushing forty.

The problem with seeing him is I doubt that my insurance plan would cover my visits to see him, he's in Milwaukee and I would like to say that my overall well being is more important than money but I have to be practical and realistic about the bills I have to pay. It would be nice to see someone local, I'm sure I'm going to have to go through the skin tests again but at this point I have to know what exactly I'm allergic to so I can move on with my life.

I hate being sick, I don't like going places where I'm afraid to put anything in my mouth and I don't have a super active social life but it would be nice to be able to walk into a restaurant and not wonder if each bite is going to be my last. Anyways, if you're still reading this I feel like you must care what happens and if you're sick of reading stuff like this I'm sick of living it.

Who understands nightmares? Who truly understands? Who knows what it’s like to wake up night after night in pure terror? I’ve been told that nightmares are things you mind creates, subconscious images that you can’t repress in your sleep, ideas that shouldn’t have been, fears you didn’t know you had. But why? Why then would your own body, your own mind let them out? And why would it let them out when you’re at your most helpless?
Nightmares come in so very many different forms. It can be something obviously scary and heart breaking, like watching a loved one die and not being able to do anything about it, or being able to try but failing any ways, knowing you did your best. Or they can be creations, monsters that you’ve made in your head. Monsters\Monsters that can do what ever they want and you can’t stop them. Monsters have different types to. Some monsters are humans. Beautiful humans that you know are wrong, that you want to run from but at the same time you want to get closer, to touch them and play their games, dance with them. Some monsters are horrible, scary, dull and slimy, bumpy, unproportionate, horrifying creatures that you can see are wrong. And then in the nightmare the monster saves you, and you grow to like it, then the pretty other monsters kill it.
And of course the nightmares that don’t make sense. Like being flushed down a toilet, or the world is taken over by some sort of play dough, or you’re being chased by a puppy. What about the nightmares that make you scream and cry over something not scary or sad at all?
What about the nightmares that make you gasp when you wake up as if you had stopped breathing? The nightmares that when you wake up you can’t even scream your so afraid, the kind where you’re trying to scream but you can’t. What do you do when you wake up and no one is there? How do you deal with it when you scream and scream and no one answers? No one comes to see what’s wrong? When the people you’ve lived with your entire life can hear you screaming and they don’t care? When you’re too afraid to even move out side of the blanket? How do you deal with that? What do you do when that is what happens every time you fall asleep? You can try to stay awake, but eventually you pass out. Believe me, I’ve tried it.

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