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Mon, Nov. 9th, 2009, 11:02 am
So Whatever Happened To Jade?

For those of you who know me, you know I've been considering going into security services, specifically personal protection i.e. bodyguarding. It was something I've wanted to do since before I got sick. I went to the one day seminar then, started to get into shape for the week-long training, and then came down with this mystery ailment (which my doctor insists could be fibromyalgia, a disorder I still don't believe is real). I'm not saying people with fibromyalgia don't have pain or symptoms, I just think there are other underlying causes that maybe aren't being looked at closely enough. To me, fibromyalgia is where they lump you when they aren't sure what it wrong, and it probably covers more than one actual ailment.

I spent the next year being sick and not getting better. The more I rested, the less energy I seemed to have. In the spring, I decided I'd simply had enough. If I could not get myself better and live something close to the life I desired, than life simply wasn't worth it. Being a disabled lump unable to do anything isn't really living, and if I followed all the doctors' instructions that is exactly what I'd be. So through all the pain, I spent the summer getting myself into shape for fall bodyguard training.

I entered my first 5K and beat my goal of completing it in under 40 minutes. In fact, my time was 35 minutes. Training was a bitch, months of painful walking and then jogging. I found out that jogging was no more painful on my joints than walking or any other exercise.

I started a new medication that seems to be working, but makes me so tired I literally fall unconscious. I ate more vegetables and became religious about taking my vitamins. I played CNN in the background all the time and read newspapers online. I found a martial arts instructor, after experiment with things like acupuncture, yoga, and qigong. I willed myself better.

In the meantime, AgtOrange and I scrimped and saved for my tuition. I worked my first security gig, a street festival, that tested my abilities to stay awake and focused without sleep. I had worked it out that I could quit anytime I needed, but I made it where others who weren't sick failed. In the end, I worked 22 hours straight through and figured I was ready for school.

What was school like? It was like the longest powerpoint presentation of your life coupled with a sleep deprivation experiment. Practical exercises came later in the week. What did they teach? If you really want to know, take the damn class yourself. It's a good school.

What did I learn? Well, as I told the instructor at the end, I only learned one thing, and that was the breadth and scope of everything I didn't know. Now there is a list of all the things that come next if I really want to work as a personal protection specialist. I also learned (in prepping for school) that I am capable of grasping all the fundamentals of one thing if I spend 3 months of my life doing nothing else. That means I can properly learn only 4 skills a year.

In three months I took my body from near-bedridden to my first 5K. In three months I can grasp conversational ability in just about any language. In three months I can touch base with every concept I need to learn to work security. In three months I can gain proficiency with just about any job I work. I sure as hell won't be an expert, but the foundation will be solidly laid.

Why didn't I blog about it every step of the way? Because it was no one else's business. Because some things are private. Because, while I will happily tell you anything about myself, including things that most people would consider secrets, I don't blog stories that don't belong to me. The things I learned at school are not things you can commit to ether; there is no proper way to explain an abstract.

What comes next? AgtOrange and I have plans to visit my family sometime closer to Christmas. He will probably meet my mother, whom I haven't seen in almost a decade. This is not a reconciliation; I feel it is important he grasp my background. Since she is a native Vietnamese speaker, from now until then I am teaching myself that language. It will be a surprise when I go visit. (I'm not worried she'll find out by reading this blog because she doesn't read English.) Maybe someday I will visit my family in Vietnam. Either way, I have a pool of native speakers at my disposal to help me with a second language, not to mention all the Vietnamese speakers I live near. So far, this is proving to be the only language I have absolutely no aptitude for learning. It must be a mental block, but I will overcome it.

In the spring I will start running again, even though I detest running. I want a better time on the 5K and I want to maintain my body. At that point, I will begin training in Shaolin kungfu in earnest and maybe go back to capoeira (which I haven't done since I got sick). The skill after that will be Spanish, a language I've dabbled in for years but never seriously applied myself to learning. In the fall we'll be vacationing in a Spanish-speaking country and I'll get to put my skills to use. I'm not sure what I should do after that, but it falls along the lines of getting my EMT-B and maybe working as an EMT (even if I have to volunteer) for at least six months. I will dabble in other skills that may or may not prove useful, such as crowd surveillance and how to spot a fake ID (some of my friends are bouncers). Maybe I'll take a computer class. I might also start doing that clinic escort work if I can. It will give me practice for real bodyguarding later.

I am hopeful that in two years I will be ready to look for work as a protection specialist. If that happens, I'll probably stop blogging entirely.

Mon, Nov. 9th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
american_arcane: Impressive.

I greatly admire your focus and determination. I can only imagine what sorts of things I'd be able to do if I could muster that drive. (Thankfully, I don't have anything I need to push that hard against... so I can happily remain lazy by choice. Of course, if my health ever goes south... well... then I'll have that internal motivation.)

Did no know you have a Vietnamese background. My friend nofcna has some pretty amazing stories about her family and her journey over to the US. The different paths of people--and the similarities they sometimes share--always fascinates me. Best of luck picking up the ancestral tongue. :)

Am I going to see you at the DC Bloggers meetup on Wednesday?ca

Mon, Nov. 9th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
jadxia: Re: Impressive.

I'm debating on whether or not I'll show up. It depends on how much of a head start I get on studying, etc. earlier in the day. If I laze about all Wednesday, I can't go.

Mon, Nov. 9th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
fibrochondriac: What a great kick a** attitude!

I just want to say that I admire your guts. I have fibromyalgia and I think sooner or later science is going to prove you are right about the diagnosis.

I'll just throw this at you and if you want to try it great, if not, just keep fighting your fight. Ever heard of "low dose naltrexone"? I've been looking at the research it and it's cheap, little to no side effects and it seems to work. And it seems to work on a lot of things like MS and tumors and fibromyalgia. Garbage can diagnosis has garbage can fix :)

I could go into the science of it (as I understand it), but if you're interested you'll find it. I just wanted to let you know about it. Best of luck and keep kicking ass!

Tue, Nov. 10th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
jadxia: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Huh, I hadn't heard of this. Naltrexone is side-effect free, at least, I'd never heard of any side effects reported by patients when I worked in the pharmacy.

I do see one problem however. As it is an 'off-label' use, the automatic assumption by insurance companies would list you as an alcoholic or drug addict. Just like taking HIV medications can cause your insurance and future insurance companies to permanently reject coverage (even if you don't have HIV), taking addiction medications could do the same. It would be worthwhile to push for naltrexone to have more labeled uses.

The free health insurance in DC (which covers all us unemployed folk) doesn't cover any addiction or mental health treatments because it "costs too much", which seems ludicrious considering if we treated people for mental health and addiction, maybe we could get them working again and they wouldn't need government health insurance. I might check if this Neurontin continues to knock me out (it builds in your blood, and seems the more I take it the stronger it gets), but I'm betting DC Alliance doesn't cover it.

Thanks for responding! I am ALWAYS interested in new treatments.

Tue, Nov. 10th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
tashok: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Oh, man, you were/are taking Neurontin? I used to be on that. Never again. Sadly, it was
not the worst of the meds I was on. Not by a long shot. I really hope they come up with something a bit kinder for you!

~S

Tue, Nov. 10th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
jadxia: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Yes, Neurontin (and I've just upped my dose). Right now twice a day 300mg, supposed to go up to 3Xday soon.

It is making me super tired and I'm getting fat (ugh).

Fri, Nov. 13th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
tashok: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Neurontin sucks, but it could be worse. If they try to put you on Depakote and/or Zyprexa, RUN. Seriously.

Fri, Nov. 13th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
jadxia: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

They don't give those for pain (that I know of, anyway).

I've been on Depakote before, it was the drug that removed my frontal lobe -- I seriously said every thought (good or bad) before I'd even realized it, including things like "Wow that dress makes you look fat" and "does this story have a point or do you always ramble this way?" Total truth serum.

Fri, Nov. 13th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
tashok: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

I was on it (and Neurontin) for being a crazy, not pain. Depakote didn't do that to me, but it did knock me out better than most sleeping pills. I also put on 30lbs the first month I was on the aforementioned combo; total weight gain wasabout 100lbs over a year - from 120 to almost 220. That sucked.

Fri, Nov. 13th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
jadxia: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Yeah, a ton of ppl I know gained huge amounts of weight from Depakote, but for some reason I didn't. (Maybe I looked slimmer from a distance, considering no one really wants to hear the honest truth habitually.)

Either way, it doesn't make you any friends quickly.

Mon, Nov. 16th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
tashok: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Understandable; I'm all for honesty but I'm also very much in favor of tact. =/ It's always rough being on a lot of those types of meds. In many cases the side effects are as bad as or worse than the original problem.

I'm going to give you a call once I know what's going on for break; if you don't hear from me by, say, next Tuesday call my cell and yell at me for being a featherhead. :D

~S

Sat, Nov. 21st, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
fibrochondriac: Re: What a great kick a** attitude!

Yeah, there is that. It's extremely low dose (normally 50mg for w/d, from 1mg to 4.5mg for fibro). From what I'm told it's $30 a month from a compounding pharmacy. There's no way my insurance will cover anything from a compounding pharmacy but because the dose is so low that's the only place to get it.

If you want more info on it I've got a bunch of links posted on my blog http://www.fibrochondriac.com/2009/11/09/low-dose-naltrexone-does-it-work-on-fibromyalgia/

Good luck!!

Tue, Nov. 10th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
tashok

Good for you! Sounds like you're doing great. :) I'm really proud of you.

>>It was like the longest powerpoint presentation of your life coupled with a sleep deprivation experiment.<<
Sounds like vet school. Oy.

>>I only learned one thing, and that was the breadth and scope of everything I didn't know.<<
I used to love that feeling. Nowadays, the OMG I'm going to be The Doctor soon and I hafta KNOW all this!! panic is slowly but steadily taking over.

Also, I would love to know what you learned in the class, but I don't really see myself training for a second career at the moment! I must admit the idea of a bodyguarding school - or any school - that teaches you something that can't be taught is a bit hard for me to grasp. I am of the opinion that anything can be taught given a sufficiently apt teacher and pupil; but I have certainly been known to be wrong before! My curiosity, it seems, is destined to go forever unsatisfied. :P Ah well. Like the proverbial cat, it will doubtless kill me someday. Unless, of course, I am the quantum type of cat - and then you will never know!

As for learning Vietnamese, sounds great! I've never had much aptitude for languages other than English (unless you count BioGeek!), but I think that's more lack of patience and dedication than anything. I'm used to picking up on things fast, so when I find something I'm slow to pick up on I tend to push it to the back burner unless it's something I have more than a casual interest in. For example: guitar, ballroom dancing, and German (my dad's side of the family is from Germany). We'll see if it ever happens. Too many interests, too little time! Still, I admire the heck outta you for learning new languages. Anyone who's bilingual or better impresses me like crazy.

Hope I get to see you soon - sounds like we are due for a looong and fascinating conversation! Well, my bit won't be all that fascinating unless you're into vet med, I'm sure, but I can always sit across for you, sip coffee, and be suitably impressed by your exploits. :D

~S





Tue, Nov. 10th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
jadxia: You can learn anything, you are super smart!

and I love talking med stuff, although I know more about human medical than animal

Fri, Nov. 13th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
tashok: Re: You can learn anything, you are super smart!

You're on, then! Just make sure to stop me if you're bored or need an explanation. I've mostly forgotten how to talk to non-vet students. ;D