I finally got my heat fixed a couple of days ago so that’s a relief. Turned out my heat was barely working in the living room. The heating elements that are in the ceiling were barely getting warm. I’m guessing they were doing some “money saving” thing and my pointing out that this place was freezing got them deciding that maybe their money-saving idea wasn’t gonna fly. Who knows. I’m warm now.
As usual, I’ve hung a bag of ice over the thermostat to “fool” it into thinking it’s freezing in here so it’ll warm up this place. It’s currently 79 in here, and I’m so cold and wish it would heat up faster. I’m wearing a long down winter coat and winter hat and I’m shivering.
I went into town thinking I might go to the library and might not, so I brought my library stuff. I stopped at the post office to check my box, then went over to CVS to get tissues. They happened to be marked down, so I guess I came at the right time. Meanwhile, I’d blown my nose a zillion times, and felt so lousy that I knew that I would pass on the library today. I bought some calorie-free Powerade and some diet soda at Tedeschi’s. All this stuff was very heavy in my canvas shopping bag. I thought I’d never make it home carrying all of it. I switched the bag from one hand to the other, back and forth, so many times, getting frustrated, stopping all the time to rest, and someone even stopped to ask me if I was okay. I was feeling very weak, but I said I was okay, thank you. It was rather embarrassing.
I’m home now, and feel just plain rotten. I’ve had a bit to drink. I might go to sleep for a while but I’m not sure. I slept two hours this afternoon but got up because I wanted to get to the post office before they closed. It’s 80 degrees in here and I’m so cold still.
I had a little fun with a decision I had to make today. Walk, or cab? When you figure that cabs cost a fortune, walking is the obvious choice…or is it?
I recently discovered that it isn’t all that far to walk to my primary care physician’s office. It’s about 40 minutes if I walk fast but not ridiculously fast, that is, not walking and constantly reminding myself, “Gotta get a move on!” but walking while listening to loud, raucous rock music and not really giving a shit about anything or anybody. It took 20 minutes to get to the bike shop and the other 20 to get up a steep hill to Dr. K’s office. Yeah, I timed myself.
But today the weather……..let me put it mildly: sucked. This was the pits. I can take rain, snow, sleet, thunderstorms (Puzzle would disagree), blazing heat I happen to love, sub-zero even (believe it or not), but this? No way. Today was miserable. It was cold…and windy. I hate windy weather. We’re talking a biting wind that gets into your shoes, bites your face, goes through your hat and bites your earlobes, and goes up your sleeves and jeans. The worst of the worst windy weather, for me, is the kind of windy weather that blows the sand on the street and the salt onto my glasses and then I can’t see. It wasn’t that bad today but this wind put me in a wicked sour mood. I mean wicked. My doctor even asked me why my face looked “tan.” Well geez. I told her the damn cold, biting wind has been on it all day long. And today, it got colder, and colder, and colder. It started out above 50. Trust me, it didn’t even feel close to that. Then it dropped, and dropped and dropped. Within a couple of hours, it had dropped 20 degrees. I was not a pleasant person to be around. Thankfully, no one was around me.
So my appointment was at 1pm. When I got home from walking Puzzle I was faced with this question of cab or walking, which at this point was up for debate, given that I already knew about the afternoon’s predicted temperature drop and continuing sadistic winds. I remembered the lively speculation I’d enjoyed while on our walk. I had let my mind wander around, thinking of the Worst Case Scenario.
Say I walked to Dr. K’s office and froze my butt off. I’d have frostbit toes, of course. I’d be shivering and never really warm up, even though that building where her office is located is heated okay enough. Then what happens? I have to take my clothes off? Dang! So I go through all this examination rigamarole, and she isn’t too pleased to see me in such a shitty, negative mood. I go home to my freezing cold apartment, and the only way I have at my disposal to warm up is to take a shower. Of course the hot water isn’t working. Now, the Housing Authority has decided to heat the hallway this year. They have it heated plenty. Why can’t they heat my apartment the way they heat the hallway? I decide to do what I always do to warm this place up: I put ice on the thermostat. I drop the ice on my foot.
That’s about as far as I got with the Worst Case Scenario. Puzzle and I arrived back at my building, where I threw out Puzzle’s poops, and soon forgot about it all and stopped my silliness. I’m only remembering it now. But it was all this speculation that influenced my decision to break the bank and take a cab. It is a five minute drive, depending on whether you make it through this certain traffic light before it turns red. Whatever.
I’ll tell you my logic in all this. Being in a wicked, wicked sour mood, and coming home and still being in a wicked sour mood, would make for a lousy day and a lousy night and might carry over into tomorrow. It could rub off onto other people. Not that I’m ever around anyone, but you never know. Just vibes. You know, negativity.
The cab ride was nine bucks. That was super expensive, I must say, that plus I tipped, I think, another four or five bucks but I don’t really remember for sure. Was it worth it? Yep. I stayed warm. It was a little tough getting home, but there were no waits for buses. I had a bit of a walk, but I stopped everywhere I could, like at the library and a couple of stores along the way, like, you know, window shopping, etc, just to stay warm, and I made it back. And yes, I put ice on the thermostat for a bit. Things could be worse. Winter doesn’t last forever. And I think the hot water is actually working tonight.
I just looked at the clock on my computer. In a minute, my site blackout, protesting Internet censorship, will end, at 8pm. The lights will come on again. You will see me and read me again. Maybe I, too, will see things in a new, different light. Maybe it’s good to see things from all angles, positive and negative. Maybe it’s good to see all possibilities and scenarios.
It is indeed possible that I may recover from my illness, anorexia nervosa. I have read about people with all sorts of mental illnesses, deemed hopeless cases, either locked in back wards or on their death beds, who ended up making huge strides eventually against all odds and contrary to all predictions by not only “experts” but by everyone that knew them.
The thing about anorexia, and in the case of certain other mental illnesses, is that the sufferer doesn’t necessarily want to recover. This is not due to selfishness or stupidity or because the person is “doing it to themselves,” but because of the nature of the illness, and if you think otherwise, then you are not educated about anorexia nervosa. Schizophrenia can be this way at times. Mania can be this way. A person who is depressed, on the other hand, is often aware that he or she is depressed (but not always), and this awareness can be painful, as is, of course, depression itself. Most people who are depressed wish to rid themselves of depression and be happy again. I think this is a fair guess. But you can’t say this of anorexia, because of the simple fact that the person with anorexia fears weight gain, and probably wants to lose more weight. It’s as simple as that.
While in the shower this morning, I thought about the fact that I hadn’t weighed myself for…let’s see…simple math here…ten days. I’m not about to break that record. I can tell when I’m over x or under x. I am just over. I can determine this rather quickly. I was able to guess within a pound what I weighed today, and I discovered that was absolutely correct in my estimate when I stepped on Dr. K’s scale.
My weight is okay. I’m not going to freak. My clothes fit and I can wear them just fine. And I’d better wear my clothes. The biting wind might be dying down, but it’s getting down to 14 degrees tonight and I sure as heck can’t go out there naked.
I live in subsidized housing. The Watertown Housing Authority keeps our heat regulated by computer. We can lower the heat, but we cannot raise it over 73 degrees. Sure, it says 75 degrees, but it’s really 73, because there’s a “two-degree offset” they don’t tell you about before you move in.
I was too cold in my apartment. Still am, actually. I complained and complained. I wore, and still wear, a fleece jacket and hat indoors. I still wear it when I go out in the hall, and I wear it to the housing office, just to demonstrate how cold I am. However, I don’t need it in their office. It’s plenty warm there.
Finally, the manager said to me, “Julie, if you get a doctor’s note, we will raise the heat for you.” I got a note. From Dr. P. She wrote one on the spot, saying it was ridiculous that I should suffer in the cold. They raised the heat. I was overjoyed.
Now, I thought that this was the end of the story. The saga continued, though. Last year, it was the ordeal with the air conditioners. They didn’t take mine out till nearly the end of December. Some serious air was leaking under my AC and I was freezing to death. My heat couldn’t keep up with the leak. You’d think with all the money they wanted to save, they’d have taken out the AC in October the latest. Like this time last year.
Meanwhile, I was having this problem with the thermostats, and this is what I wanted to mention now. There is a computer glitch that makes the thermostats “jump” back from 78 to 75. This happens all the time now. So I call the housing authority maintenance lady, and ask her to fix my heat, and put it back to 78, and she does. This can only be done on weekdays, as first of all, the maintenance staff on weekends doesn’t have access to the computer, and secondly, a “jump” from 78 to 75 isn’t an “emergency” that has to be dealt with on weekends. So I freeze until Monday. As you can guess, one of my big worries is that the “jump” will occur Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, and I’ll be freezing for the next five days.
Today, I called maintenance to fix my heat yet one more time. I waited for the heat to go back to 78. I waited. And waited. Finally, I called again. Did you forget about me? No. Something’s wrong with the computer. We can’t do it today. We’ll do it tomorrow.
Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh. You know what I’m thinking. That this problem won’t ever be solved. That their computers won’t ever be fixed right. Because they haven’t fixed them yet, after two winters, going into a third. What next?
You may know what I’m thinking, but I know what you’re thinking, too. That I need to gain weight and put meat on my bones, and then I won’t be so cold, right?
Sometimes, when I’m videoconferencing (Skyping) with Frank, I don’t feel so cold inside. Sometimes, I even take off my hat and fleece jacket, and wonder why it suddenly got so warm in here. I don’t know if it’s so much that we eat together, or that we are special friends that does it for me. But when Frank is around, I feel a little warmer.
Yeah, Frank got me to eat, but he says I got me to eat. Today, I added milk to my diet. I decided that since my periods have pretty much stopped, probably from my low weight, I’d better get more calcium pronto. I had two glasses of skim milk today, plus the milk I used to make my oatmeal. I encouraged Frank to drink two glasses a day, and to my surprise, he said he likes almond milk and soy milk. I didn’t think he was that kind of guy.
Wow, it is cool getting to know each other. We talk about everything. We talk into the night. We get on Skype, with all its wonders, and it is like we are sitting across from each other, eating together and laughing. Sometimes, we get disconnected. Yeah, there are glitches in cyberspace. But we spend hours talking about how on earth we ended up with the curse of this eating disorder, and how we are going to deal with it…together.
My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access. To read more about it at my home site, click here.
Before I left for the hospital, I believe it was Tuesday the 12thof January, I called maintenance about the leak in my bathroom that I believed was coming from the toilet. When I stepped on the floor, water came up from between the linoleum tiles, in little puddles. It may have been the 12th that I made the call. Meanwhile, I had already slipped and fallen twice from the puddles. They came the next day and looked at it, and said they’d send the plumber, Sean, who also works for the Watertown Housing Authority. They said the toilet was leaking. Then on the 14th at 9am I left for the hospital, and expected that the work would be completed within a day or two, and that I wouldn’t have to worry about it while I was gone.
Wrong-o, wrong-o, wrong, wrong, wrong. I arrived home on the 22nd to find that the leak hadn’t been fixed. Every time I stepped on the floor, a puddle came up. I felt like the bathroom was a swamp, and it sickened me to go in there. I couldn’t bear to brush my teeth in there, and instead brushed them in the kitchen sink.
Finally, on the 25th, after I had nagged the maintenance lady, Debbie, several times, Sean came and looked at the situation. He said he’d be back on the 26th, yesterday, to take the toilet off the floor and re-do the seal. He came in the morning while I was out. The procedure worked.
Problem was, because the adjacent bedroom parkay wood floor had been soaking wet for so long, when it dried up it buckled up and expanded, and now it’s in bits, and a mess, and hazardous to step on. There’s an area 3 x 3 feet that’s formed a big bump in the floor. Because of Housing’s negligence, it’s going to have to be redone. It is unsafe for me to walk barefoot there now. Here’s a photograph of the part of the damage that I could capture in an image:
Living in a run-down apartment is a negative influence on my mental state. I don’t need this, especially not now.
On Saturday, December 19, I contacted the Watertown Tab via e-mail and phone regarding the 40 or so air conditioners still in the windows at my building. I pointed out the incredible waste of energy. This is taxpayers’ money.
On Monday, December 21, maintenance guys showed up at my apartment and removed my air conditioner. I can’t help but think that they did it to shut me up. Did the paper question the Housing Authority? I don’t know. I know that now the paper can’t come in here and see the leaky window I had–it is gone. Interesting.
Of course, I am delighted to be much, much warmer. What a difference!
And get this: it took those two guys about three minutes to do the job. Three minutes. Not five. Don’t tell me they don’t have the manpower to remove the other air conditioners in the building.
Wow, it’s nice not being cold anymore.
The saga continues….
Last fall, that is, in 2008, the Watertown Housing Authority installed new windows at 55 Waverley Avenue in Watertown, where I live. This was supposedly to make the apartments more airtight, and cut down on heating costs. I thought this was great! A warmer apartment was always welcome.
My enthusiasm died down when winter hit. You can read about my adventures in past posts here, about my struggles with the Housing Authority to stay warm all last winter. The good thing was that I did get a doctor’s note and got my thermostat allowance raised from 75 (which is really 73) degrees to 78 (76 really). You’d think that this would be roasting, but I am above the garage, and it is really chilly on the floor in here with no insulation between the garage and my apartment. The bathroom floor is like ice, for instance. I liken sitting on the toilet seat to sitting naked on a park bench in winter.
The Housing Authority gave out a notice that they were going to install permanent air conditioner panels. This was in May. We were supposed to tell them if we wanted our air conditioners installed with the panels. I put my name on the list. What I got instead was a temporary, summer mounting that was not suitable for winter use. Air leaks under, over, and around the air conditioner where it has been installed. There is a one-inch gap under the air conditioner where air comes through. I was told that the Housing Authority would take the air conditioner out in the fall.
You got it: they never came. I waited and waited. I called–I think I recorded the conversation here in a previous entry–and was told they would take them out. And I waited.
Then yesterday came. Last night, it got down to 7 degrees. Seven. My apartment was freezing when I got up. The heat was blasting, but couldn’t keep up with the leaks. In the apartment it was 70 degrees. It may sound warm enough to you, but to me it was way, way too cold. If you read my blog last year, you may recall it once was 46.5 degrees in my bathroom when it was 73 degrees in the main part of the apartment.
Today, I called maintenance and asked them when they were going to take the air conditioners out of the windows. The woman at maintenance, Debbie, told me they were planning to leave them in all winter.
Now, what’s the point of new windows if you’re going to leave air conditioners in them all winter???? What kind of logic is that????
The Housing Authority maintenance people told me last spring that they installed about 50 air conditioners. That’s 50 people whose air conditioners are still in their windows, 50 leaky windows, 50 cold tenants.
If the Housing Authority cares so much about saving money that they ration our heat and insist on keeping it at 75 degrees and not only that but keep it at a “two degree offset” so it’s actually at 73, why the heck are they leaving air conditioners in the windows????
If the Housing Authority cares so much about saving money that they spend a zillion dollars on replacing ALL our windows in the fall of 2008, why are they wasting these beautiful new windows by leaving air conditioners in them????
I called the Watertown Board of Health to complain. They called Brian Costello, head of maintenance over here, who told them it was a “liability issue” and that tenants could take them out themselves or hire someone if they wanted. Fine. I will.
The point is that all these tenants are waiting for the Housing Authority to do something. They don’t have the means to take the air conditioners out, or they don’t understand that the installations are temporary. The Housing Authority needs to provide the means for the tenants to take the air conditioners out, or take them out for them, or suggest services that tenants can hire to take them out. These air conditioners should not be in the windows all winter long. It simply makes no sense.
My plan is to call the local newspaper tomorrow and see if they’ll do a story on this. What the Housing Authority is doing is a crime. What the Housing Authority is doing is wasteful. What the Housing Authority is doing is illogical, nonsensical, unthinkable, and inhumane. Maybe tomorrow, a few people in important places will find out about all this.
Winter is coming, and I’m having trouble with my heat again. Here’s the scoop:
Last winter I secured a doctor’s note (from my shrink) and got permission for my heat to be raised from 75 (73, actually) to 78 (really 76–there is a “two degree offset, according to the maintenance department). The heat in these apartments are controlled by computer, and the computer has malfunctioned a number of times since my heat was raised last February, knocking the heat back down to 75 in one or sometimes both rooms. Sometimes, the temperature gets as low as 72, which I cannot tolerate. Remember, the thermostats are up at the height of my head. Immediately below my apartment is the unheated garage. My floor is mighty cold! However, setting the temperature at 78 (76) solves the problem just fine.
I have called maintenance about this problem, both last year and this year, when it has occurred, and they say they know nothing about my special permission to have it set higher–up at 78. I then have called the manager, whose response is that maintenance does indeed know, and refers me back to them.
Another problem is that the Housing Authority has delayed removal of the air conditioners from the windows. It is mid-October, and temperatures in the Boston area get down to the thirties in the mornings now. There is a half-inch gap under my AC where air moves in freely that I can’t plug up simply because I can’t get in there to reach it–I have tried with washcloths and a screwdriver and it doesn’t work.
I called maintenance this morning. To my surprise, the head of maintenance, Brian, answered, instead of Debby, the usual person. I explained my situation. He said I was “just going to hang tight” regarding the AC. He said, in regards to my heat, that he’d “look into it.” This was not very reassuring. I called Michael, the manager, and left a message explaining that I had thought Brian knew about my heat situation. I also said that I hoped this computer problem would not repeat itself. I said I was concerned about the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and other long, cold weekends coming up. I also mentioned the AC problem.
Hopefully, I will not have another cold winter. At the moment, I am wearing a winter hat (one that I made) and a fleece jacket and vest. My hands and feet are icy cold. I realize that if I had more body fat, I would not be so cold, but the point is, I’m cold and miserable, and the agreement with the Housing Authority is not being met, never mind common sense–one takes an AC out of the window when the heat comes on (September 15). It is a matter of human decency.
To be updated soon!
I did not have a good appointment with Dr. P today. All she wanted to talk about was my weight and my eating. Nothing else. Nag nag nag. I told her I had started eating again and apparently that wasn’t good enough for her. She said I had to GAIN.
Well, I told her, at least I hadn’t lost.
This, apparently, was not good enough for her. Not losing wasn’t enough. I have to gain seven pounds, or else. Seven. I already panicked when I got to 99, I told her, and now she wants me at 105?
What’s so scary about 99, she asks.
It just is.
Well, see, Julie, that’s why you need a program. I really feel that a program could help you–
No program. I’m doing this on my own.
By “program,” she was referring to an eating disorders day program or evening program, where they serve you big meals and expect you to eat them. They weigh you and give you nutrition counseling, and they have stupid groups and expect you to go to them. Some people benefit from these programs, but I think I’d find it just babysitting for people with ED’s.
You say you’re doing it on your own, but you haven’t gained. You can’t keep doing baby steps. You have to eat regular meals. It’s going to feel like too much for a while because you’ve been restricting, but you have to do it. So I really think you should be in a program.
We went on like this for a while. I flat out refused to go into a program, and there wasn’t a damn thing Dr. P could do about it. You can’t be “sectioned” (court ordered) into a program, I don’t think, only into a hospital, and I don’t meet the criteria for hospitalization (or a “program,” for that matter, I don’t think).
I just plain and simple have no desire to gain weight or cooperate with Dr. P any further than I already have. Dr. P wants me to throw out my scale, and I refuse to do this. I have no desire to increase my calories back to where they were a week ago. I have gained enough weight and I don’t want to gain any more. So long as I don’t lose, she can’t hospitalize me. And that should be good enough for everyone.
As many of you recall, I gave Michael Mathes my doctor’s note stating that I required more heat in my apartment. I told Michael that I would be away the following week. Indeed, my plan was to attend the Goddard College residency in Port Townsend, Washington, from February 8th until the 16th. In fact, I left town the 7th, and flew back from Seattle on the 17th.
My flight was uneventful, but my excursion to the hotel was not. Fog surrounded the entire airport, giving the entire night an eerie feel. I immediately came upon a serious accident involving two hotel courtesy vehicles in which a driver was hit. He was lying on the ground and some ambulance guys were attending to him as I drove past in my courtesy vehicle. “Rough night,” the driver said to me, “rough night. There was a motorcycle crash right outside our place.”
“Shoot,” I said. “Was the guy okay?” Stupid question.
The guy let me into my hotel room and showed me the heat control. “You just turn this knob,” he said, “for heat. Turn it this way.” He showed me.
Fine. I turned it all the way.
Three, four hours later, it was only 63 degrees in the room. I know. I had my alarm clock with me. Remember that alarm clock, the one with the thermometer on it? Yeah, that one. Sixty-three degrees. Finally, I showered (don’t know how I managed that one), put on long underwear, two shirts, three jackets, a hat, a scarf, and mittens, and took an hour and a half nap before venturing out to the bus for Port Townsend.
You have to understand West Coast mentality, in particular, Northwest Coast mentality, to know that people out there aren’t normal. They wear t-shirts in the summer when it’s 50 degrees out, and don’t heat their homes. But they do heat their homes in the winter, when it’s 48.
Fort Worden, where I was staying, was heated–sort of. The room I had was warm enough most of the time. The kitchen was freezing, very drafty. I couldn’t stand being in there for more than a couple of minutes. The thermostat–tee hee hee–was right outside my room. I manipulated it at will, much to the consternation of my roommates, particularly Dani, who is a local. Needless to say, she spent Saturday night at a hotel.
The dining hall at Fort Worden was the pits. Not only was the food–well, never mind the food–we’re talking about temperature here….There was this draft in the dining hall. If you put a napkin on the edge of your tray, the napkin would fly around like a set of wind chimes. That’s how bad the draft was. So you can picture what I looked like, wrapped in a stocking cap and scarf every meal, trying to keep my head, ears, and neck safe from the evil draft. Finally, I complained to a worker, who I noticed was wearing a winter jacket.
“I’m just wearing this ‘cuz I was in the freezer,” she said. Excuses, excuses.
While waiting for the bus ride home (Dungeness Bus Lines, formerly Olympic Bus Lines, runs a route from Port Townsend to Seattle) I waited at the Port Townsend Safeway. It was freezing in there, I mean, it must have been close to 60. I wore three jackets and my usual hat, scarf, and gloves. I was shivering. I felt like bursting into tears. I even asked an employee if there were any warmer places to sit. There were none. Eventually, my classmate, Cody, arrived.
“You would absolutely not like Japan,” he said.
“And why is that?”
“I lived and taught there for a year. They don’t heat their homes. Not even in winter.”
“Not at all?”
“Not at all. They have air conditioning, though.”
“Gee, that’s comforting.” I made a mental note to cross Japan off my travel list.
I spent the night in Seattle not at the cold hotel, but at the Skyway Inn, which, although seedy, was plenty warm enough, and I find I rather like the Skyway despite its oddities.
I flew home. The plane was warm enough. The food was warm enough. I didn’t have a stomach ache. They fed me enough. They gave me enough to drink. My luggage was safe and undamaged. I hopped in the cab. We didn’t get lost. I generously tipped the driver.
Slowly, I pulled my luggage down the hall, which seemed too bright and too dark all at once. I fumbled for my key, and, finding it, turned it in the lock.
Something seemed different. What was it?
Heat. I had heat.
Was this for real? I set down my luggage.
The thermostat read 78. I checked again. Seventy-eight. I closed the apartment door behind me, and gave a whoop. Seventy-eight! I checked the bedroom. Seventy-eight. At last. With the “two degree offset” the actual temperature in my apartment was 76, but I knew it would be higher in some areas. My worries were over. Heat. At last.
No longer would I have to huddle under the heating panels, wondering how I would stay warm. No longer would I have to wrap myself in a blanket for hours every morning. No longer would I have to wear a scarf and hat indoors, and a jacket and gloves. And even the bathroom temperature has improved.
I am much more relaxed. I worry less. I no longer get these intrusive thoughts about something bad happening to Puzzle. It is because I don’t feel the persistent stress of constant discomfort of cold. I am warm now. I am comfortable. I am truly blessed.